DUCK SOUP: Ask Your Doctor

Everywhere I peer I see drug pushers and I've about had it. It is high time for our society to take a good hard look at the problem and try to dream up some creative and effective strategy to stop them cold. You know the ones I mean: The talking heads on television and models in magazines, the actors who have perfected the creased forehead and agonized stare that says, "headache," the ones who manage to sound totally congested at the drop of a hat, the others who fake PMS or heartburn so convincingly. They're out to get you hooked.I know there are times when an analgesic can soothe severe pain or reduce fever, and some people like to take pills to quell certain symptoms of a cold, but it looks to me like drug use has gotten way out of hand. I know folks who take Tylenol every day after work, and I've read of factories where workers routinely take BC powder at every coffee break. Tolerance for pain is a very personal choice and I sympathize with those who hurt a lot, but I think a lot of people pop pills because of pushers. It looks like advertisers are selling the idea that no one should ever feel anything at all.You've seen the ads. A twenty-ish woman with a serious expression faces the camera. You can tell by looking that she has put a great deal of thought into the decision she's about to announce. "My Dad tells me to take Advil for body aches, and my Mom says Excedrin is the only thing that will touch a tension headache. I love my parents, and I respect their experience, but they just don't understand: there are days when I don't feel bad at all, I just feel like, well, like it's the kind of day when I could feel bad, maybe. And for days like that, my sister told me about Hapitol." Then she smiles and hugs another actress and the voice-over says. "Hapitol. A secret shared by sisters who really care." The day before I wrote this commentary I went downhill skiing. This is an activity I have enjoyed twice in the past sixteen years. This morning I feel parts of my body I haven't paid attention to for a long time. That's okay. Aches are sort of a physical memory of yesterday's fun. Severe aches can be a warning that I overdid it and should take it easy for a day or two. It works the same way with digging in the garden or splitting wood -- anything I don't do frequently. That doesn't mean I need dope, it means I'm alive. It's not that I'm particularly stoic, in fact my best friend thinks I'm kind of wimpy about pain. I think I just try to be realistic. We don't always feel exactly the same and even in the best of health, every day is a little different. Pill pushers play us like arbitrageurs who make money on tiny fluctuations in the stock market. They literally make mountains out of molehills.The most insidious of the pushers don't even tell you what their drug is supposed to do. They have become macro-pushers who simply sell the idea that taking drugs is inherently good. Such ads are common in newsmagazines and tv magazines like 60 Minutes where the target audience is middle-aged and older.First we see a grandfatherly gentleman pushing children on a swing. We know from the context that the tykes are token grandchildren. The sincere announcer says, "Don't you owe it to your family? Blynkensol HD. Ask your doctor."It is exactly the same in print. An evocative picture with a headline, "Jeanid. The way life ought to be." And down at the bottom a tag line, "Ask your doctor.Ask your doctor what? There is never a word about symptoms or indications. The print ads are followed by a full page of chemical data, warnings, scientific documentation and numbers but no clue why on earth I might need Blynkensol HD or Jeanid. Am I supposed to go a doctor with a laundry list of funny sounding names and demand to know why I can't have a fistful of prescriptions?Some kids think drugs will make life better. Hmmm. I wonder why.

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