Say Yes to Medication And No To Drugs

Please don’t call them drugs.

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Today I spent eight hours in the company of many neuroscientists.  Smart folk.  People I look up to, want to emulate and learn from.  It was an honor.  We covered different stimulating topics about serving our patients, diagnosing better and the development of our field of practice.  We connected collegially, ate too much chocolate, exchanged cards and talked about each other’s families.  I hope to meet them again soon at future related conferences and continue learning from their experiences and study.

The one thing I do not like about any of these meetings however, is hearing people who know better (if they thought about it) naming our good medications “drugs.”

Drugs.  Yuck.  What do you think of when you hear that word?  I think of stigma, addiction, substance abuse, ruined families, fathers who do not come home, needle marks or powder on mirrors, low-living, illegal behavior, dealers, hepatitis and so much more – very little of which is good.  Drugs.  I cannot number how many patients I have spent oodles amount of time on talking them away from the stigma attached to medications because they thought of them as “drugs.”  Blah.  It is not anyone’s fault but we can start over when ever we want to, so let us.  It is time.

Who thinks of anything that actually improves us when thinking of drugs?  Who thinks of life-saving remedies, disease cures, hope, ability to feel pleasure again, forgotten shame, ability to hold a job, restful sleep, speaking well in public, desire to live restored or a mother who no longer wants to drown her baby?  Do you think of that when you hear drugs?

Let’s get together on this and forget the word that carries so much loaded negative meaning.  It is a disservice to ourselves – physician, scientist, grocer, student, surviving family of a suicide victim, newborn baby, patient and all of us who have any connection whatsoever to disease and treatment.

Drugs.  I think of First Lady Nancy Reagan‘s famous campaign in the 80’s, “Just Say No!”  That is not what we want to say or hear when we write or receive a prescription to treat and to heal what can be healed from a debilitating disease.  Just say yes, please.

Medication.  Not drugs.  A word does matter.  A word carries emotion on it like the smell of cookies baking in the oven or the toilet that was not flushed.  A word can start a war or inspire forgiveness.  Words matter.  Words can be part of what helps us be better friends to ourselves.  Why not use them to our advantage?  Let us change our culture and decrease stigma with this simple word – “medication.”

Maybe when I am able to get together with my colleagues again, maybe next year even, we will be using the word “medication.”  Maybe it will be because of the shift in culture people like you and I can start now.

Self-Care Tip:  Please forget about the misunderstood word, “drugs,” and say yes to medication.  Be a friend to yourself.

Questions:  What do you think of when you hear “drug?”  vs. “medication?”  Is there a difference to you?  To you think it would matter to culture and your “Me” if we used “medication” to refer to prescription therapies?  If so, how?  Please tell me your story.

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Fears of Addiction To Medications For Brain Illness


22 thoughts on “Say Yes to Medication And No To Drugs

  1. I agree with you. I remember when my son was very young and there was some drug-scandal going on in the Olympics and he said “why don’t they just ban making drugs at all?” and I had to explain to him that drugs are actually medicine, that each performance-enhancing product that these healthy people were taking actually does real good to people who are not so well.

  2. Yes medications sounds better but with prescription medicines (uppers, downers, psych and pain) as the most abused substances they ain’t no medicine. They are drugs. Dope. I am not getting notifications your new posts or anyone else’s. Everyone seems blocked. This is serious problem. Any suggestions?

    • U hv suffered greatly the reality of our vulnerabilities to “help” offered and speak w a knowing worth respect.
      Re: email notifications, ck on your main word tess dashboard the list of your subscriptions n see what u r registered for in frequency. I don’t know why, but it’s happened to me before that my selected preferences changed.

  3. i think that like so many things there are good and bad sides tio the same things. trying to distinguish between proper ane improper use is the key. even medication prescribed can be a bad thing when improperly used.

    • True that, sideview. Even the word “drugs” at one point in history’s story must hv implied something we thought was friendly to us, or we wouldn’t own it as such a part of our culture’s fabric. So can happen w “medication”. Fair warning.

  4. I agree with you that culturally it is misleading the use of the word ‘drugs’ when referring to medications. The word ‘drug’ will always be applied to illegal substances. If the person is abusing his medications, they are still medications, but it is the doctor’s responsibility (if under the care of a doctor) to withhold the medication or substitute for another one. I can not speak from experience, so this must be wishful thinking.

  5. I understand what your saying but in the current moment Im going to have to disagree. What are drugs? Mind altering substances which is exactly what psychiatric medications are, and my current “medication”, in my opinion, affects me much more like a “drug” than medicine.

  6. The multitude of psychoactive “medications” that I have taken over the past several years didn’t do me any good. I am quite convinced they generally made matters worse and will therefore always be “drugs” to me.

    I didn’t try to kill myself until after I was on *drugs.* I didn’t become a frequent flyer of the local psych unit until after the *drugs.* I didn’t gain well over 100 lbs until after the *drugs.* I didn’t dip into the deepest darkest nights of my depression until *after* the *drugs.* I didn’t start freaking out with massive anxiety and panic attacks until after the *drugs.*

    Do they help *some* people? Most probably. Are they as helpful as they’re made out to be? I doubt it. Do patients know the real dangers and actual efficacy of their “medication”? I don’t think so.

    I understand what you are saying but I maintain that these “medications” are toxic, mind-altering drugs.


  7. Let me just say this as simple as possible from my own experience with medications.
    When your heart is very sick, you go to a heart doctor and take whatever heart medications will keep you alive and keep your heart beating healthy for as long as necessary without questioning your heart doctor. When your brain is very sick with depression, anxiety, fears, panic attacks, sleep disorders, etc… you go to a Psychiatrist (brain doctor) for help and you will take brain medications for as long as necessary to live a normal and happy life again, no difference, just a different part of your body. I’m all for will power and trying to get better without medications, but when you reach such a low point that you just can’t function any longer and just keep getting worse by the day, you will a beg your Psychiatrist for some kind of medications to make it go away and get back to a normal, functional life again. If you work together with your doctor, you will definitely find something that works for you, and believe me, you will take them for as long as necessary until you feel normal again, just give them a chance and time to start working, most of these meds take time to start working, you just have to stick to them and trust your doctor, thank God there are so many different kinds of meds available for these problems that will help you get back to normal again. I know a lot of meds have side effects, but you keep trying until you and your doctor find something that works for you, and you will. If I didn’t take medications for my problems I don’t think that I would be alive today, so I thank God and my doctor for saving my life, I couldn’t have gone much longer without my medications.

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