succumbing to peer pressure

Monday, October 31, 2005

The last article in yesterday's Times Magazine is called "The Vanishing Boy" about an autistic five-year old whose increasingly violent outbursts lead his parents to start giving him prozac. The last paragraph really got me:

"Really? You medicate your son? Our choice required no explanation to parents of disabled kids, but to others I almost had to apologize for...well, getting medicine for my child. The failures of the past and present - those old almanacs and new black-box notices - make us suspicious. But I don't have the luxury of distrust. I do not love that it came to this. I do not love drugs. I do not love the companies that sell them.
But I love my son."

Which is really what it should be about. What's best for each individual person, made as an informed decision by the people who care most for them. "...getting medicine for my child." It should be no different than seeking any other medical treatment. Certainly, I am no fan of big pharma and I do fear that we dangerously over-medicate our children and ourselves, particularly in America. But it's not that black and white - drug companies are neither our saviors nor evil incarnate. For some people prescription drugs are probably somewhere between not helpful and a really bad idea. But for others they may mean the return to a 'normal' productive life. And just like we need to start talking more frankly about mental health, we also need to have more open discussions about drugs. About what they do and do not do and when the benefits outweigh the side effects and for whom they seem to be working. It shouldn't be embarassing to say you went to therapy this morning and you shouldn't have to apologize if your child is experiencing better living through chemistry.


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