Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rant #756: Not a New Problem

We constantly read about people getting addicted to pills.

Whether the pills are used for some emotional problems, to alleviate pain, or to help people to get to sleep, addiction to pills is something of an epidemic.

It is kind of a "person next door" epidemic.

When someone is addicted to some illegal drug, you have a vision of them in some alley or some corner, shaking like the Dickens, foaming at the mouth and looking like they haven't washed in months.

Not so with addiction to pills, or at least, not to the outside world. Some of these people look as normal as you and I do.

Some just go off the deep end, as the recent incidents on Long Island involving painkillers and pharmacies being attacked have illustrated.

Yesterday, while riding my stationery bike for a little exercise, I turned on Antenna TV, a wonderful, oldies TV show rerun station that is on the air in New York via WPIX Channel 11.

I watched an old episode of "Adam-12," the buddy cop show with Martin Milner and Kent McChord that ran on NBC in the late 1960s and the 1970s.

The story seemed to be right out of today's headlines.

A mother is struggling to understand her young teenage son, who the cops are investigating for dealing pills. The mom says that it can't be her son, he is so young and innocent, so it can't be him.

He does very well in school, so it can't be him, she claims. "I have heard that the first thing that happens when a kid is addicted to drugs is that his grades go down," she exclaims, and her son's grades are just fine, she says, so he can't be doing drugs.

Well, one thing leads to another, and the kid is apprehended. He is a smart kid, and tells the police that he knows his rights, and he doesn't have to tell the police anything.

And, of course, he is right about that, so they take him down to the station, and his mother is called.

With the two policemen and the mom and son together, the show's climactic scene unfolds.

Finally, the kid breaks down, and tells the police he has been getting the pills illegally. But he really isn't the main culprit here.

"It was me, officers," the mom says. "I haven't been able to get to sleep. Someone I play bridge with has a husband who is a physician, and she has been writing the requests on his stationery, and sending them out to the manufacturer. I have been using 18 pills a day."

To me, 18 pills would sink a water elephant, but the woman needs that amount of pills a day to sleep.

Sure, this is a dramatization based on an actual case, or so we are told, but that show was filmed probably 40 years ago.

The problem still exists today.

People get hooked on these things and can't get off. They justify it by saying that it's not heroin, so they aren't drug addicts.

But they are.

And in some instances, the need for these things not only hurts the person and their families, but many others. Some would kill for these things.

When I had my kidney stone problem last summer, I was given a pain killer, and told to only use it if I was in some discomfort.

My discomfort was relatively mild, but I decided to use it anyway, just to see why people would literally commit murder to get some.

I knew almost immediately why.

Within about three seconds, I felt no discomfort, no pain, heck, I didn't feel much of anything.

And yes, soon after I threw those pills out.

Those pills were so strong that they should be made illegal.

But back to the show.

That show opened up my eyes. I guess I was a little naive to think this type of behavior started maybe in the last 25 years or so, but it's probably been going on for decades.

It's just that now, the pills are stronger, and people will go to any means to get them.

How sad. To have your life run by little, but potent pills.

Happily, I never really have had the need for such things. But I know others swear by them.

But you have to watch yourself. They are so good, so strong, that they are very addicting.

Just think, do you want your lives run by a pill?

I think not. I would hope that others would feel the same way.

And the P.S. to this rant is that the very next show, an episode of "Dragnet" with Jack Webb and Harry Morgan, had a back story about one of the detectives popping pills to ward off his allergies.

He eats them like candy throughout the show, and finally, Friday pops some of the pills too.

Look, I know that 40 some odd years ago, these types of pills were looked at differently than they are today, they were much less potent, and if there was an ailment, there was a pill.

Even television advertising followed suit, showing pills like sleeping pills in almost a heavenly light.

But I just found it interesting that one show, made in 1967, showed cops popping pills like candy, and the other show, made in 1973 or so, shows cops pursuing citizens who are popping pills like candy.

And the shows were produced by the same guy, Jack Webb.

Very strange bedfellows indeed.

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