Using Your Brain on Drugs

New Mexicans are dying at higher rates from the abuse of legal drugs than from illegal ones. Across America, there were more emergency room visits in 2004 for abuse of legal drugs than for cocaine.

Compounding the rampant abuse of legal drugs is the practice by doctors who, according to Knight Ridder News Service, write more than 100 million prescriptions a year for drugs “off label” – that is, as treatments for conditions the drug was not tested or approved for.

The third leg of the legal drug abuse triangle consists of most of us – the majority of patients who do not follow prescribed treatments, including people who don’t take the drugs they are supposed to when they are supposed and in dosages they are supposed to. This should be the easiest part – doctors communicating clearly in culturally appropriate ways and patients taking an advocate with them to actually listen to what is being advised.

As in most of health care, it isn’t how many drugs you have, it’s how many brains.

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