Wednesday, September 15, 2010


How many pills do you take every day? I take 18 vitamins. At night when I can't sleep I try Benadryl, 25 mg. One doesn't always work; two sometimes does; three doesn't always work and my doctor says 75 mg. is a maximum.

What about prescription drugs?

What about addiction?

We've lost a lot of wonderful people to pill-popping.

Sometimes two acetaminophen (Tylenol). help me sleep; two aspirin work, but the doctor says "no" -- it reduces "platelets" (thins the blood).

What about the sleeping pill "Ambien?" NO! I sleep, but wake with depressive, weird thoughts that stay with me all day.

I know from personal experience with the Vicotin that my dentist gave me, that what the brain loves, it craves! Oh yes, Vicotin takes away dental pain, and wow -- what a great sleep I get. But if I don't take Vicotin the next night ... well ... okay just for two nights ... three?

There are other drugs to try. And new ones -- drugs for acute and chronic pain are rolling off the production lines.

The best sellers are Oxycodone, Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Hyrocodone. Remember when Rush Limbaugh was arrested, booked, photographed, and fingerprinted, but not handcuffed -- released on $3,000 bail? Later he paid $30,000 to defray the cost of the investigation, completed an 18-month therapy regimen with his physician and got addiction treatment for using Oxycontin?

Okay, if someone's dying, addiction isn't a problem -- but pain pills for chronic pain are a serious problem.

Here's some numbers.

Three years ago, 5.2 million people used prescription "pain pills" non-medically. In 1990, deaths from non-medical pain pills was 6000. Three years ago, about 27,658 people, died from overdoses -- a combination of prescription drugs and booze.

Yes, there's a national epidemic of pill-popping, as well as accidental overdosing. "Pharmaggedon" -- that's what Dr. Barbara Krantz says. She is the head of the Hanely Center, , a residential addiction place, where people go for a cure, in West Palm Beach.

What's the solution?

Better surveillance from the alphabet soup of agencies -- the FDA (Federal Drug Administration), CDC (Center for Disease Control), SAMHSA, (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), and the NIDA (National Institute of drug abuse)?

What about an electronic database of all the pharmacies? A law requiring drug companies to provide a better list of side-effects and more detailed instructions to doctors?

In my most down-to-earth, charming, "you can trust me" tone, I asked my friendly, reliable internist, "Are there any new pills for sleep -- can you give me a prescription?"

He suggested a glass of wine and counting sheep.

So I count chimpanzees, chanting Shakespeare -- "One chimpanzee, 'sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care,'" then "two," and get sometimes get to two-hundred plus, drift off, wake a few hours later, sip water, and drift off again.

Gee, I wish I could get at least four hours of continuous sleep. More wine, and a combo of pills? I don't want to get pickled -- a lot of people are getting pickled -- once your brain becomes a pickle, it can't go back to being a cucumber.

Got any suggestions for cucumber Em?

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