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Drugs, Guns, and Risk

December 22, 2012 , , , , , , , ,

If Mr. McMurphy doesn’t want to take his medication orally, I’m sure we can arrange that he can have it some other way. But I don’t think that he would like it.-Nurse Ratched

The shadow America does not want to face is our mental health system.  Mental health treatment has been a barbaric system of emergency drug administration with no hope for cure.  My parents could afford the best available when they needed help in their last years.  The problem was finding any ethical and effective treatment for them.  Everyone was ready to charge big bucks, but nobody had any real therapy (or even care) for the patient.  They had unlimited access to all drugs, but no access to careful diagnosis or medical ethics.  When I volunteered for the VA my Vet was long-term suicidal, and there was no available help for him either.  I am sure there are some quality programs somewhere, but before going out and spending twice as much money  giving people twice as many drugs, why not evaluate the efficacy of the treatments used now? I am going out on a limb and say our neighborhood system of mental health treatment is damaging to all concerned.  Random pharmaceutical drug use is not healthy, mentally or physically.

In my neighborhood, here in central Tucson, where you can virtually buy drugs in the middle of the street and there is probably  a weapons concierge who will bring a selection of guns to your house for purchase, a 6-year-old was found with a loaded gun in has backpack at school.  His dad was arrested for an old felony charge so the kid who said he did not know how the gun got into his backpack is now probably a foster kid while his father serves time.  This is the reality for the youth here, and they may or may not know how the gun got there, but they know it will not be the last gun they will see.  This deep, sociological, complex problem will be resolved by government programs with an arsenal of pills.  Is that, in any way, believable?

We also have a very large mental health center available to the public and funded by Medicare.  It is close to a public bus stop with a convenience store on the corner.  People from all over the city can come, buy enough alcohol to be over the limit, and be admitted for the night to the mental health clinic.  If they are not at the limit, they simply walk back to the store and buy another pint of liquor. They will be given prescription drugs as a result of the entry to the clinic which they can sell right there in my neighborhood.  The clinic is supposed to make sure that the patients leave the area, but of course there is no way to enforce that rule.  So the patients are released to repeat the cycle.  Spending twice as much money on this will create at least twice the  insanity and grow creepy petty crime around here.  It is a risk to continue to pretend we are treating mental illness or Vet suicide.  Money spent on this denial while asking for more funding is running from the reality that systems profit from status quo, and not from change.  We need fundamental change, comprehensive.  Stopping the madness will involve stopping the flow of drugs as a substitute for therapy.  This is a war on drugs worth fighting and well within our power.

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I believe a real problem is to find politicians who will listen and vote to allocate funds for therapy. Who is so courageous amongst them, at all levels, that they could risk such level-headedness?


Gerry Zeck

December 23, 2012

They will have to be major prophets ready for some big fat scorn and lobbying, but it could happen.



December 23, 2012

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