Steffanie Rivers

Even when I’m experiencing one of my debilitating migraine headaches I opt to sleep it off instead of taking pain medication. Unless it’s some form of vitamin or other supplement I stay away from over-the-counter and prescription drugs. But the billions of dollars that pharmaceutical companies profit every year lets me know that I’m in the minority when it comes to pill popping.

I’m blessed to be in great health (except for an occasional migraine headache), but I know some people take medication to control chronic illnesses or due to accidental injuries. And then there are others such as the subject of an article in the August issue of Men’s Journal magazine who treat their bodies as if they are test dummy for the pharmaceutical industry. According to that article, there wasn’t a mood drug that his psychopharmacologist (yes, that’s a real profession; can you believe it?) didn’t prescribe for him.

Nearly half of the American population takes at least one prescription drug every day. Are you one of those people? Count the number of prescription bottles that are in your medicine cabinet and ask yourself if you can do without some of them – if not all of them – if only you would eat better and exercise more. It’s true that most of the people who injest pharmaceutical drugs are seniors, because health concerns leave them with no other options. But a recent government report even criticized the overuse of narcotics used to medicate elderly nursing home residents. And just a few years ago doctors and pharmacists connected to a well-known drug store chain confessed to filling prescriptions of nursing home residents using medicine from a drug company that paid them to push their products, even though there might have been other more suitable medicine.

In 2009 Americans spent nearly $2.2 billion on prescription drugs. And that cost continues to rise. More than 100,000 people will die this year in the United States due to medical errors; they took the wrong medication, too big a dose of the right medication or a combination of drugs in their systems did them in.The problem has become so problematic that medical errors now are one of the leading causes of death and injury in this country.

When there is money involved greed will get the best of some of the most ethical people. So if you want to keep more of your money in your pocket and live a healthier life in the process, do simple things to improve your lifestyle: eat better, exercise more and don’t look for a pill to cure what ails you.