Copyright 2001 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved

Crank's Corner: by Linda Marcas

                                                  Drug Culture

    I've noticed the red ribbons tied on the lamp posts and doors and car antennas; we must be having
another "Just Say No" campaign in the everlastingly popular War On Drugs.  Lock-ins, drug testing, rallies,
ad campaigns, Prom Promises and reward incentive programs notwithstanding, this is one war we are never
going to definitively "win."  Illegal street drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and the other self-prescribed "crutches"
that many of us are addicted to are different from the helpful prescription and over-the-counter medications
that qualify as "legal" drugs, but those differences don't necessarily mean much to kids who see the world
around them filled with drugs of both sorts.  We live in a drug culture, and the kids know it.

    Have you noticed how TV commercials for some products have begun to use "addiction" scenarios
to catch your attention?  "I started by doing it just once a week, but then it got to where I needed to do it
every day."  The lovely, seductive spokesmodel isn't referring to drugs, she's talking about shaving her legs,
and promoting a cream that purports to make frequent shaving less necessary.  In another ad, a young
mother exclaims, "The first time I did it, I was hooked, and now I'm getting my friends to do it!"  She's
"hooked" on saving money by trading in gently used children's clothes and toys at Once Upon A Child, and
buying other toys and clothes for her kids at the same popular resale shop.  Do you think that these
commercials, by parodying actual anti-drug messages, dilute the impact and effectiveness of those

    How about the group of young women sitting in a restaurant, with one woman asking another for a
pain reliever?  She digs through her voluminous handbag, pulling out one remedy after another and saying,
"I'm a pharmacy!"  She dumps her purse out on the table and continues to search, until the first woman
admits that she has her period and wants Midol for cramps and bloating, etc.; of course, that's in the bag,
too.  From the cradle to the grave, there are drugs for every stage and condition of life; see how many of
following medications sound familiar to you, just from overhearing their names on TV.

    First, the kid stuff, for childhood sniffles, dehydration, or possible malnutrition, all in various
formulas and flavors: PediaCare, PediaSure, PediaLyte, Dimetapp, and Robitussin.  If your school-age
is a discipline problem, someone will probably tell you he needs Ritalin, for Attention Deficit Disorder.
Most folks don't give their children aspirin anymore, for fear of Reye's Syndrome, but children's aspirin is
now being used as the perfect low dosage for "aspirin therapy" to lessen the occurence or severity of heart
attacks.  With winter coming, be sure to load up yourself and your kids on zinc supplements and vitamin C
and flu shots, or you might have to go to the doctor to get some Relenza to help you through your flu
symptoms so you don't miss too much work.

    For women old enough to worry about birth control but still young enough to have zits, there's
Ortho-Tricyclen, proof against rugrats and acne, when taken as directed by your physician.  Of course, it
does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, so we have Zovirax, Valtrex, and Denavir for
Zithromax for urinary tract infections, and Monistat, Mycelex, and Gyne-Lotrimin for those pesky yeast
infections.  My research is a little unclear at this point; many of the yeast infections medications also seem
to work for various fungal conditions, and vice versa, so add Lamisil, Nizoral, Diflucan, and Nystatin to that
list.  At least one of these should make sure that your gnarly yellow toenail fungus won't gross out your next
hot date or embarass you at the beach.  Once you've sown those wild oats and are ready to settle down
have a baby, start taking Folic Acid before pregnancy, then pre-natal vitamins during the gestation period,
to get Junior off to a healthy start.

    We live in a stress-filled world; most of us get sick of it from time to time.  For acid reflux,
heartburn, and ulcers, we can take Prilosec, Prevacid, Pepcid, Zantac, Propulsid, Tagamet, Nexium, Tums,
Rolaids, Mylanta, Maalox, Gaviscon, Alka-Seltzer, or a host of other remedies.  Sonata, Ambien, Tylenol
PM, and Nyquil and Nytol will help us get to sleep and stay asleep.  If we develop Social Anxiety
Generalized Anxiety Disorder, panic attacks, or plain old depression, Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Wellbutrin, and
Xanax will provide relief.  If none of those seem to work, call the number for the new medication trial and
volunteer to be a guinea pig.

    So many things can go wrong with our bodies; aren't we lucky to have so many remedies?
Imodium, Pepto-Bismol, and Kaopectate for diarrhea and gas; Colace, Ex-Lax, and Metamucil for
constipation and irregularity; Lipitor and Zocor for high cholesterol; Meridia for weight loss.  If you want to
improve your health and quit smoking, wean yourself off the nicotine with Nicorette, Nicotrol, Nicoderm,
or Habitrol; if you backslide, try Zyban next.  There are too many popular headache and sinus remedies to
bother with listing here, but if your life stops for your migraines, take Imitrex or Zomig.

    Those of you with allergies can seek relief by taking Flonase, Flovent, Claritin, Allegra,
Nasalcrom, Nasacort, Nasonex, or Zyrtec.  If you have full-blown asthma or bronchitis, you can have your
nebulizer medications delivered through the mail, or get by with Serevent, Flovent, Accolate, or Singulair.
And if there's anthrax in the air, let's all hope we have some Cipro.

    Mid-life and old age have their own host of ills, and the aging Baby Boomers are taking their drug
culture with them into their golden years.  We'll take Caltrate to prevent osteoporosis, PremPro, Estroven,
and other Hormone Replacement Therapy for menopause, Rogaine or Propecia for hair loss, and Viagra
impotence.  We'll take Detrol for our overactive bladders, so we "don't have to go right now."  If our
arthritis kicks up, we'll take Aleve, Celebrex, and Vioxx; we'll check our blood sugar levels, and check
often, and take our insulin, unless we can get by with Glucophage.  We'll remember our blood pressure
medication, and hope that that new drug helps alleviate the side effects of the chemotherapy.  Meanwhile,
we'll munch down our Centrum Silver and drink our Ensure, just in case we missed something.  Uh-oh,
better take some Ginkoba, for memory!

    I think I'll invest in stock for companies that make red ribbons, because business is sure to be
booming for years to come.  The War On Drugs will never end, because we can't say it's over until we win,
and that victory will never come.  How can we expect to teach kids to "just say no" to illegal drugs while
surrounding them with legal ones?  Unless we're willing to suffer all of life's ills as un-medicated as our
ancestors did (which is highly unlikely), we'll have to continue living in a drug culture.

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