America has a big drug problem. And the problem has nothing to do with the war on drugs. It has nothing to do with illegal street drugs like cocain, heroin or crack. NO, here in America the problem is that, as the documentary American Addict points out, we have less than 5% of the world’s population, yet Americans consume 80% of the world’s prescription narcotic drugs. This is a problem that runs the current of the society, with victims such as Marilyn Monroe in 1962, and more recently Michael Jackson—whose causes of death are directly related to America’s problem with prescription drugs.
America’s love affair with prescription drugs is that it is far too easy to get drugs from the medical system, which is not doing enough to ensure only those who need drugs are getting them, and that those drugs are being used according to the prescribing doctor’s instructions.
Most recently the world mourned one of America’s most loved pop-icons, Michael Jackson. As facts of his death came out, it became clear that what killed Jackson was the drugs he was taking, drugs that his doctor provided him with. In this case, because Michael Jackson was such a prominent figure, a full-scale investigation was launched to figure out the cause of his death. His Doctor, Dr. Conrad Murray absolved himself of any innocence, but the court system saw things a different way. He said in an interview that he and Jackson were like family. “We were family,” he said “We loved each other as brothers” (Graham, 1).
But that love did not prevent him from prescribing Demerol and other strong prescription drugs to help Jackson with his insomnia, which eventually led to his death. A century before, another pop star died because of her access to and misuse of prescription drugs. Maryln Monroe was found dead at the age of 36 in her home in Los Angeles. She was naked in her bed when doctors found her and net to her was an empty bottle which had contained the sleeping pill Nembutal, which led some to conclude that her death was a possible suicide.
The 2012 film American Addict explores this issue, which is not just affecting celebrities, but everyday Americans. The film looks at the politics behind our medical industry, and how it is a big business that is profit driven. It makes sense that Americans are the most heavily prescribed prescription drug users in the world, since the more drugs prescribed (or perhaps the better word would be sold) cause bigger profits for doctors and those working in the powerful pharmaceutical industry. As the film puts it “We have gone from being the land of the free, to the land of the addicted.”
This problem, on a sociological level is a societal problem. Current laws and regulation are not doing a sufficient job of keeping those who would abuse prescription drugs from doing so. It is too easy to walk into a doctor’s office and say that there is an ache or pain, or that you are having trouble sleeping and then procure a prescription drug. Some users are using Medicaid and Medicare to get drugs fro free and then they turn around and sell them on the street. It is also very easy for a patient to see more than one doctor in order to get more than the required dosage.
With many Americans dependent on drugs, and many wealthy people dependent on their sales to stay wealthy, this is a societal problem without a clear solution. But until something is done, Americans will continue to be the most drugged up nation in the world.
"1962: Marilyn Monroe found dead." BBC News. BBC, 8 May 1962. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/august/5/newsid_2657000/2657289.stm>.
American addict. Dir. Gregory A. Smith. Perf. Netflix. ., 2012. Film.
Graham, Caroline. "'No, I didn't kill Michael. He did it himself with a massive overdose using his own stash': What really happened the night Jackson died, by
Dr Conrad Murray, the doctor jailed for the death of the King of Pop." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 24 Nov. 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2512469/No-I-didnt-kill-Michael-He-did--massive-overdose-using-stash-What-really-happened-night-Jackson-died-Dr-Conrad-Murray-doctor-jailed-death-King-Pop.html>.