The International Writers Magazine: OD Living

My War on America’s drugs
Ginette Ballard

n recent years, the United States has been known for its war on terrorism. Before the war on terrorism, the U.S. had been and continues to, fight a different kind of war. This war could easily be described as a war against its citizens. The majority of those who are incarcerated in this country have been so because of their association to drugs. Whether being a user or dealer the war is on and it has cost its government and its citizens billions of dollars a year for years. And to this day there is no end in sight.

While the government continues to spend our hard earned money on the war against street-drugs; it supports a medical/pharmaceutical industry that has turned its citizens into a bunch of pill-poppin’ drug users. Drugs that offer warnings such as dizziness, headache, diarrhea, stomach problems, heart problems, liver problems, and worse are becoming a way of life. The new ‘dealers’ offer something for everyone and all you need is an appointment with your Doctor. You’re guaranteed a ticket, otherwise known as a prescription, to RX heaven.

Although I believe that there is a time and place for pharmaceuticals; the complete and total reliance upon them is out of control. There is little, if any, education or discussion on the prevention of illness and degenerative disease. Our complacency has put our health in a precarious position; the hands of an industry that makes billions of dollars a year off of sick people. Doctors live in their esoteric unreality where being questioned is the equivalent to being slapped across the face. Apparently eight years of schooling has put them in an elitist group that can’t be touched by common sense or just plain concern. And in all those years of schooling they seem to know close to nothing about nutrition or prevention. If they do know anything about either one or both they’re keeping it to themselves. The solution to everything, from headache to heart disease, comes in the form of a tablet or capsule. This has become the reality. The mere mention of alternative-medicine to a ‘real’ doctor never fails to provoke a sardonic response leaving the patient feeling like a fool. To put it simply, natural medicine is treated like voodoo. The fact is that the majority of pharmaceutical drugs are derived from plant sources. Our drug companies have been isolating and synthesizing the active-ingredients of plant life for years making drugs that can be sold for huge profits. Meanwhile, whether or not we can afford the cost, we’ve become dependent on legal drugs to maintain our health. No question’s asked.

Nutrition has become something that you’ll find mentioned in tabloid-esque magazines such as People or US Weekly in regards to this actress or that rock-stars latest ‘get slim quick’ diet. In the mean time, diabetes among adults and children alike has become the latest epidemic. One can pick up a box of any children’s cereal and find among the list of additives and preservatives, refined sugar as one of the primary ingredients. With our busy schedules we lack the time to prepare healthy, well-balanced meals. Instead we allow Chef Boyardee and Mama Celeste into our kitchens; absolutely everything is pre-made, pre-packaged, pre-cooked and ready to eat in five minutes. And we pretend that this isn’t affecting the health of ourselves and our children. We take our children to the pediatrician and ask how this could’ve happened; what can you do to make my child better. We rely on everyone, but ourselves for information. We have put the most important aspects of a healthy and happy life into the hands of the medical industry without using the slightest bit of common sense. The quality of life which should be gauged by health and happiness is instead gauged by things as trite as what kind of car one owns. The average person is more concerned with what they put on their bodies than with what they put into their bodies and then wonder why they have high blood pressure at the age of twenty nine.

Delaney Amendment: If a product causes cancer in animals it cannot be put in food!
The late FDA toxicologist, Dr Adrian Gross, testified to the senate: "In view of all these indications that the cancer-causing potential of aspartame is a matter that had been established way beyond any reasonable doubt, one can ask: What is the reason for the apparent refusal by the FDA to invoke for this food additive the so-called Delaney Amendment to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act? Is it not clear beyond any shadow of a doubt that aspartame has caused brain tumors or brain cancer in animals?

"Given that this is so (and I cannot see any tenable argument opposing the view that aspartame causes cancer, how would the FDA justify its position that it views a certain amount of aspartame (50mgm/kgm body weight) as constituting an ADI (Allowable Daily Intake) or "safe" level of it? Is that position not the equivalent to setting a "tolerance" for this food additive and thus a violation of that law? And if the FDA itself elects to violate the law, who is left to protect the health of the public?"

The above statement in regards to the FDA was made by one of its own and is just one example of many. To avoid weight gain or perhaps because of afflictions like diabetes the public, rather then choosing to avoid soda altogether, chooses diet soda over its sugar-filled counterpart. And let’s face it; our bodies aren’t equipped to utilize synthetic chemicals just like they’re not equipped to handle large quantities of refined sugar or any other overly-processed foods. To put it simply, we are exchanging one vice for another that is just as bad or maybe even worse. We live in a society that doesn’t seem to understand the concept of moderation. A diet soda once in awhile probably wouldn’t cause cancer, but most soda-drinkers don’t drink soda once in awhile. Most will drink it everyday which is why we have gotten to the point of needing the diet soda alternative.

Our lifestyles and lack of education have created the ‘need’ for pharmaceuticals. I grew up in a house-hold with parents who didn’t really care how much soda we drank. They didn’t monitor the mountain of ice cream or piles of cookies that we consumed on a daily basis. As a child, my parents had me in the doctor for this headache or that stomach-ache on a regular basis. I was poked, prodded, and tested for every allergy your imagination can muster to no avail. Perhaps if my doctor had taken the time to question my dietary habits I wouldn’t have suffered more than the usual childhood cough. For me, life is about quality not quantity. Having a handful of meds that keep me barely alive until ninety isn’t living. Being healthy and active and independent of pain and pills is living.

We are a society that insists on the best of everything. If we’re interested in purchasing a car we make sure that we know everything about it before we spend the money. Control is something that we don’t give up very easily. So why do we give up control over the most important aspects of being alive?

© Ginette Ballard April 2006
ginetteballard at

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