Overdosed America Paperback Edition Available

"Some of the nation's worst drug dealers aren't peddling on the street corners, they're occupying corporate suites. Overdosed America reveals the greed and corruption that drive health care costs skyward and now threatens the public health. Before you see a doctor, you should read this book." - Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation

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Excerpts: Introduction | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14

deeply concerned at the rate of prescription drug abuse in my city

I am a twenty year old college student attending the University of Louisville. I am deeply concerned at the rate of prescription drug abuse in my city. It seems that a very high rate of my friends are either prescribed to Alprazolam (primarily in the medication known as Xanax). I am wondering about the true negative effects of this chemical on the brain.

I have noticed that my friends who are abusing these type of anti-anxiety drugs seem like completely different people than they were before they started the abuse. I know (as was cited by you on Coast to Coast last night and as is general fact here in the old Kentucky home) that my general geographical area is a hot spot for the abuse of prescription medications. I have heard that Xanax can actually alter brain chemistry in the long term is this true? I am deeply concerned. Really enjoyed the show last night and I await an answer from someone who seems to actually know what they are talking about. Please email me back.

Dear W.S.,
I share your concern about the overmedication of college students. I think the real danger is not so much the biochemical effect on the brain as the way people learn not to deal with the real sources of their anxiety when they take a drug that simply covers up the symptoms. Besides education, the most important pychological task of college years is to leave behind the ways of childhood and emotional dependence on one's family of origin and learn how to become an independent productive and fulfilled adult in this complex world. This is far from an easy task and highs and lows are an inevitable part of the process. To "medicalize" these psychological growing pains can slow down the rate at which people make progress in adopting constructive adults behaviors. Of course, there are times when the subjective discomfort is just too great, but for the most part engaging in talking therapy, I believe, is more constructive than just drugging the symptoms.
Al the best,
Dr. A