Psychiatric Medications, Illicit Drugs, & Alcohol

Z Magazine March 1st, 2002

The article titled “Pay Attention: Ritalin Acts Much Like Cocaine” was published in August 2001 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It’s not likely you’ve heard about it. Pharmaceutical companies do their best to ensure we hear something altogether different, something like this: “Psychiatric medication—just like insulin—restores the chemical imbalances that cause mental illness.” To get that message across, they spend billions of dollars on TV commercials. They also spend billions of dollars on drug representative visits to doctors’ offices, advertisements in medical journals, and seminars for doctors. Pharmaceutical companies even help fund the American Psychiatric Association, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and other mental health institutions. Nearly one in four American adults are taking prescription psychotropic drugs, while America’s “war on drugs” has led to more people imprisoned in the United States (in total and per capita) than any other industrialized nation.

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