April 27, 2020
America's Great Anti-Depressant Scamby Ballard Quass
I generally avoid watching network television (or any so-called "free" television, for that matter) because I've grown allergic in my old age to the condescending and manipulative power of product advertisements. However, I occasionally watch (or at least hear) one of these sales pitches in spite of myself as I attempt to remain updated on a breaking catastrophic news story such as the Coronavirus.
Last night, for instance, I was messing about in the kitchen when I overheard a commercial for some new medicine that combatted some gnarly-sounding side effects of anti-depressants and bipolar "medicines." The commercial was hugely "telling" when it comes to the way that the media and Big Pharma literally dictate through words how society will think of any given psychoactive substance. Will we think of them as horrid "drugs" or will we think of them as blessed "medicines"? Answer: We'll think of them the way that Big Pharma and its advertising agencies want us to think about them, especially after said pharmaceutical companies have staffed the morning news shows with affable guns-for-hire from the medical industry who will reinforce in general terms the product-specific message of the multi-million-dollar advertisements in question.
I don't recall which notorious anti-depressant side effect last night's advertised medicine was intended to combat (sexual dysfunction, the risk of suicide, severe addiction, emotional flat-lining, weight gain), but what floored me was the fact that the dulcet-toned female narrator referred to the admittedly harmful anti-depressant as an "important medicine." In other words, the fact that anti-depressants caused devastating side effects was not the point of the commercial: the point was that some company was helping you stay on "your important medicine" despite these acknowledged side effects.
Conclusion: anti-depressants are "the drugs that can do no wrong."
If we were talking about any other psychoactive substance - especially one that was produced only by Mother Nature, such as psychedelics - its creation of the gnarly side effects mentioned above would turn it into a "drug" in the worst sense of that word, and it would quickly become a punching bag for outraged medical pundits across the country to trash in professional journals and public media. There would be front-page stories in the New York Times warning us how psychedelic X was the drug from hell. But when it comes to the horrible side effects of anti-depressants, the exact same kind of enormous shortcomings are seen merely as a whole new business opportunity for the marketing of anti-depressant "adjuncts." And so Big Pharma takes advantage of the psychological fact that folks don't like to be wrong in their choices: they have become persuaded of the long-debunked lie that anti-depressants are miracle drugs that fix chemical imbalances, and so the public will readily welcome any new medicines that help them hang onto that "faith," even in the face of increasingly obvious evidence to the contrary.
This is why a war on plants, once started, is so difficult to end in a capitalist society. Naturally occurring psychoactive substances are handicapped from the beginning. They merely have to be responsible for (or indeed associated with) one eye-catching horror story viz. side effects and we suddenly consider the "drug" in question to come from hell. Meanwhile, a synthesized drug from Big Pharma can blatantly addict 1 in 8 American males and 1 in 4 American females, and we will still consider it to be a miracle cure, in fact a "medicine" that it is our duty as health-conscious Americans to take daily, every day of our life!
What further proof do we need that the drug war is about politics, not health, politics designed to keep Mother Nature's godsend plants from competing with Big Pharma? The scam works something like this, by the way: first the DEA outlaws scientific research on natural products that might prove to be competitors to Big Pharma. Then Big Pharma runs prime-time ads that turn their own addictive synthesized substances into apple pie in the minds of the American public. Mother Nature is thus silenced from the beginning while Big Pharma runs advertisements on prime-time television: which one do YOU think is going to win the hearts and minds of the American people?
Of course, in hindsight, it was a telling moment when Congress began allowing pharmaceutical companies to start advertising on television: that was a tacit admission that the world of personal health in America had nothing to do with science and fact, but rather with salesmanship and hucksterism - a fact which any long-term psychiatric patient like myself can readily believe, having frequently shared their doctor's waiting room with an antsy suitcase-carrying sales rep from Big Pharma.
Believe it or not, there are no addiction experts out there today. Why? Because almost all the godsend medicines that could treat addicts have been outlawed by the DEA. No surprise there. We'd have no aviation experts if the US government only allowed Americans to fly gliders. Ayahuasca, ibogaine, psilocybin, peyote, mescaline, specially processed ergot -- yes, even cocaine and opium could play a role in an addict's recovery were these substances to be employed advisedly by a pharmacologically savvy shaman. But American Drug warriors don't want to hear it. They have this superstition that says that any psychoactive substance is horrible once it's been demonized by politicians... and that is not science, but religion: specifically Christian Science religion.
For more on America's idiotic drug war and its role in aggravating addiction and complicating addiction recovery, check out the following broadsides against America's shameful drug war: