This is not a rhetorical question!
Why do people who have been diagnosed (by a professional) with a mental illness reject prescription meds? Usually the argument is "Oh, I don't want to take any drugs. I'm afraid of the side effects."
Meanwhile, they have no problem taking street drugs (including pills!)which don't help their condition at all.
Anyone else seen or experienced this?
Mighty Mom, I agree with you. I do not know why people worry so much about side effects of drugs when many of them take drugs that are much worse than prescription drugs and they know what the side effects are of these drugs. Also, the benefits of taking prescription drugs always outweighs the risk or side effect of the prescription drug. For example aspirin reduces the risk of getting a heart attack but it side effect is increase bleeding if you take too much of it. That is why we take the low dose 84 mg tablet to reduce that risk.
I have heard the argument about side effects, with all the television commercials on the horrible side effects, that is enough to scare anyone. Then there are those who feel all better & quit taking the medication. I'm not sure about the street drug issue - I've just talked with others about the side effects and stopping medication either because of the side effects or because they felt all better.
I think in order to fully understand you actually need to have the diagnosis yourself, know what I mean? Psych docs like to start patients out on the newest meds, and often the older ones work better and have far more data than the new drugs on the market. Many people cannot (I for one) tolerate any of the anti-depressants in one "group" of medications, SSRI's have some pretty nasty side effects and they don't often go away after 3-6 weeks. You also have to look at the prescribing doctor, GP's do not have near the experience with these kinds of meds where a psychiatrist has vast knowledge.
To give you a perfectly honest answer from someone who has been through the whole self-medicating a mental illness, it most often is because the street drugs do not have the horrible side effects that anti-psychotics, antidepressants, and even anti-anxiety medications have. In the long run you may end up addicted to drugs and alcohol, but treated your mental illness almost successfully. In all honestly sometimes drinking alcohol helped much more than a handful of pills that brought on weight gain, zombie like personality, dry mouth, dizziness, toxicity, and more. Alcohol didn't have a vicious side effect like say Lithium might.
With self-medicating you are doing just that. You know what works, you know how much to take or not take, how much is too much, you can cut back if something is to much, or add something if it isn't enough. And self-medicating does often help more than prescribed medications. Temporarily though.
With prescribed medications it is totally up to the doctor what is given, and how. We kind of go along "testing" the medications that are suppose to work.
I am not saying this is the right thing to do, I am telling you how I USED to self medicate myself to aid my bipolar symptoms. Street drugs and alcohol worked well for a while, but as with any drug it can soon become abused, as it did in my case. So to answer your question, certain medications do help the symptoms, and doctors only prescribe what they are suppose to. So there you have self-medicating to tame the symptoms that prescribed medication doesn't always fix.
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