Medication hampers creativity, individuality

For many of us, our morning routine includes eating breakfast, brushing our teeth, taking a shower…and medicating. Whether the “medication” in which we partake is pain killers, dietary supplements or Ritalin for ADHD, medication has become an integral part of our society’s day-to-day routine.
But for those who medicate every day, have you ever stopped to think about why? It seems obvious that we medicate to improve our health, but what does it mean to be “healthy” and who decides the definition? When one does not fit in to the category that our society has labeled as “normal,” it has become standard to alter the individual.
Self medication is turning into a Western epidemic, and the growing availability of drugs is partially at fault. Health professionals also play an important role in the growing occurrence of self medication. When one visits the doctor’s office for the common cold, what is the expected outcome? Medication. If it was not, the patient probably would not be there. If the doctor does not provide the patient with a prescription, it is possible that the patient will go elsewhere for a more satisfactory outcome. Is our society becoming too dependent on modern medicine?
Medicating for a disorder such as ADHD is among the most troubling examples of social drug dependency. There is ongoing controversy regarding whether ADHD diagnosis in children can be attributed to factors such as parental methodology, diet or even genetics. I cannot help but wonder what has caused the sudden “epidemic” of ADHD among children and what effects medicating these children will have on the future of our society.
Based on the behavioral changes of children after being placed on a medication regimen, it is my belief that these behavior-altering drugs hinder and suppress creativity in individuals. Perhaps children unable to pay attention in school are simply not capable of learning in that type of environment. Or perhaps the inability for children to focus is a reflection of our education system more so than of the capabilities of our children. If a child is interested in a topic and is approached with the right tools, he or she will find the capacity to focus and learn.
I am personally an extremely visual learner, and I struggle to retain information that is presented primarily in a verbal manner. Each child learns a little bit differently and possesses different talents, and to suppress those talents by altering the brain chemistry is altering the child’s potential. Although some may argue that the potential is altered for the better, what if it is not?
Great historical figures—such as Einstein, Newton, DaVinci and Ben Franklin—were all perceived as “odd” within their society. Einstein received failing grades in school and turned out to be one of the greatest minds in history. What effects would medications like Adderall or SSRIs have had on their contributions to today’s society? Similarly, what future contributions are we hindering by over-medicating our children?
The occurrence of savantism proves that even individuals with perceived disabilities can be brilliant. Even those who do not fit within our social norms can do great things. What sort of message would we be sending if, as a society, we pulled the paintbrush out of the hands of a savant claiming “you are not smart enough to paint?” We are sending the same message by medicating children for ADHD: “you are not calm enough to be good at learning like everyone else.”
We are teaching children to conform to our social norms and to be ashamed of their unique qualities. We are teaching them that it is socially unacceptable to stand out beyond a certain degree. Rather than trying to push children to conform, why not develop their natural talents and interests?
Medicating an individual simply because society tells you to do so should not be the norm. Next time you go to pop a pill, ask yourself why you are doing so. Ask yourself if you really believe it to be beneficial. Perhaps you will find yourself wondering what you have the potential to accomplish without your self-medicating lifestyle.
And before you decide to alter your child’s behavior, ask yourself what he or she has the potential to accomplish without medication. We should not simply turn to medication because it is the simplest option. The simplest option oftentimes hinders the greatest outcome.

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