The AMA just redefined obesity as a disease and now new research asserts that almost three-fourths of all Americans are on some sort of prescription drug. I could understand if the bulk of the prescriptions were for, say, kidney stones — but they’re not. It seems that the freest country in the world is also the most depressed.

Researchers find that nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half receive at least two prescriptions.

Mayo Clinic researchers report that antibiotics, antidepressants and painkiller opioids are the most common prescriptions given to Americans. Twenty percent of U.S. patients were also found to be on five or more prescription medications.

The study is uncovering valuable information to the researchers about U.S. prescription practices.

“Often when people talk about health conditions they’re talking about chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes,” Dr. St. Sauver stated in a Mayo Clinic press release. “However, the second most common prescription was for antidepressants — that suggests mental health is a huge issue and is something we should focus on.

How many millions of Americans suffer a legitimate chemical imbalance that requires anti-depressants and how many are merely taking anti-depressants because they’re desperately trying to mask underlying problems? It’s a good question. As I’ve attested in the past, it was often speculated that I had ADD as a child (turned out I just needed an attitude adjustment), and as an adult I had good friends try and get me to seek anti-anxiety pills (turned out I just needed a job more in tune with my long-term goals). I’m very familiar with the push to get someone to turn to prescription drugs. I empathize with those who take them for a number of reasons, but I think they should think long and hard about the root causes of their grief before going that route.

Let it be known: I am not disputing that there are cases where drugs prescribed by a medical professional for cognitive disorders are necessary. I am not saying that someone who takes prescription drugs is a bad person. What I am saying is that the sheer enormity of the numbers suggest that America as a whole has much deeper cultural issues that need to be addressed. Perhaps we spend so much time blaming Democrats and Republicans, rich people and poor people, gay people and straight people, white people and black people, etc. for the sad state of affairs we’re in because it’s a lot easier than looking in the mirror and addressing our own shortcomings.

The United States has more gadgets and gizmos than at any point in human history. We live like kings, even if we don’t realize it. And yet, almost 70 percent of us need at least one prescription drug? It gets mighty hard to worry about things like radical Islamic terrorism abroad when hundreds of millions of Americans here at home are hurting themselves in ways extremists could only dream of.

And with that, I will end with a quote from Rivers Cuomo: ‘We Are All on Drugs’


  1. Golly wow gee whiz! I just discovered that I may qualify as a victim of graduatestudentbrokeadocis, a physical disorder caused by shortfunditus which then precipitates low self esteem due to financial distress. Prescription: massive doses of greenbacks followed by luxury spa treatments.

    On top of that, I just discovered that this ol’ cowboy is –gasp–a Lesbian!

    Maybe Obummercare will kick in for my affliction.

    1. Nah, those maladies are just a result of the realization that an undergraduate liberal arts degree is worth less than nothing on the open job market. Are you really going to colossally compound your mistake by wasting your parent’s farm profits on a graduate degree in… liberal arts? During the worse recession in US history? How exactly do you see that panning out?

      You don’t need drugs or “Obummercare,” you desperately need a swift kick in the ass. Start by re-reading one of Doug’s many posts extolling the virtues of hard work and forging a life for yourself. At very least, stop suckling at your parent’s teat, quit grad school, and go out and make a life for yourself. Maybe become a vagabond and have some experiences to write your poetry about. Sell your shiny truck and go busk in Nashville. Apprentice your guitar craft under a blues legend. Do something…

    2. Like the cowboy video, I will stay far away from the aspects of this reply that will only get me in trouble… However, I will say one thing: Jim, I vaguely remember one of your comments where you did mention a dream of going off to another state (I’m assuming Kentucky?) to play your guitar. I know that your parents might need you on the farm (an extra man on the farm doesn’t suckle as far as I know), but I also know that if there’s always been a yearning in your heart to do something … you need to find a way to do it.

      “Everyone I know has a big ‘but’. Come on, Samone, let’s talk about your big ‘but’.”

  2. Great post, Doug. I have come to the same conclusions. The explaination that comes to mind? As Tyler says: “Our Great Depression is our lives.”

    “…an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact.”

  3. FYI-lightbringer: I currently work 8 to 12 hours a day on the farm this summer 7 days a week.
    As usual, you’ve no idea of what you’re spewing.

    Take your meds now, straighten your beret, and try to get some sleep.

    1. I have no doubt you work very hard for your parents. That’s not the issue. The issue is whether or not your liberal arts degrees are going to show a good return on investment or if you are doing your folks a great disservice by having them pay for a degree that screams “I’m avoiding adulthood.”

      Ask yourself what you are going to do when your employers don’t share your chromosomes. What will your degree(s) do for you? Name some country greats who had a masters in arts. How about the the world’s great poets? You might have a better case with writers, but a masters certainly isn’t required.

      I don’t take meds, only the French, liberal art students, and SF wear berets, and when I do sleep, I sleep really well knowing I can pay my last two years of student loan payments with a great-paying job that actually required the degree.

      I wish you luck.

  4. “We live like kings, even if we don’t realize it.” Seriously. Some people need to start realizing that, be a little grateful, and get their life together.

    1. The poorest Americans today lives better than the kings of old. The rich live like gods. I think we often forget just how blessed we are to be living where and when we are.

  5. Great article, we are in a generation of excuses. The question is how do we change this attitude? There are many people out there that are willing to go the extra mile so we need to support them. I am happy to say that I teach people for a living and the few that have that special spark continue to motivate me.

    1. Teaching is an incredibly honorable profession. You’re helping people one-on-one in your local community. Lasting and meaningful change is done at that level…

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