I Just Don’t Understand Why We Have an Issue with Kids and Drugs in this Country…

The other evening, my older son sliced open the side of his finger. We took a pleasant drive over to the Emergency Room at ten o'clock and by five the next morning, he was sewn up as good as new. The doctor was thoughtful and competent--it turned out our kids had gone to school together--and, as we were leaving, he handed me a prescription which I dutifully filled after dropping my son at home.

Ellery's protestations that I wake him up and take him to school in an hour notwithstanding, I let him sleep off the effects of the anesthesia. When he awoke at the crack of noon, I asked him how he was feeling. He acknowledged that his finger hurt pretty badly, that he was in fairly severe discomfort. Even though I had 20 Oxycodone in my pocket, I gave my son an Advil. When he woke up again at four that afternoon, I asked him again how bad the pain was. "I can handle it," he said.

Then, having missed a couple meals while he was being sewn up and sleeping, my adolescent son sat down to eat a plate of fried vegetables only slightly larger than his head.

The point of this vignette is not to remind my gentle readers that I am psychotically anti pain medication. Yes, I am concerned about the rising tide of prescription drug use, but were one of my loved ones suffering through chemotherapy, I would do whatever I needed to do to ensure that my family member would have access to, say, medical marijuana. No, I am only mildly impaired on the subject of pain med's.

Nor is the point of this story to argue that zero Oxycodone was the correct dosage. Another sensible father might have given his teenage son an Oxycodone upon arriving home at six in the morning and another pill when the boy woke up for the second time at four in the afternoon. Had Ellery been in worse pain, I would have given him a pill or two.

The point of this article is to express concern over the fact that where reasonable people could agree to disagree over whether zero or two Oxycodone was the correct number, NO LOVING PARENT IN HIS RIGHT MIND would give an adolescent a series of 20 powerful narcotics over the course of a week. My son had a bad boo-boo on his finger; he did not have a cannon ball tear off his leg at the hip.

Oxycodone is an opiate narcotic or analgesic--I'm copying from the website here--that "changes the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain." I like my son's brain just fine the way it is, thank you just the same. I am completely satisfied with the boy--his prodigious appetite for fried vegetables notwithstanding.

Wendell Phillips (not Thomas Jefferson as is commonly believed) said that "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Lao-tzu said, "The longest journey begins with a single step." I am not the first to remark that every drug addict was born clean. I am going to suggest that if you want your kids to grow up relying on themselves rather than on your medicine cabinet, yesterday would be a good time to start. Because you have to fight this fight every single day. Your kids will be offered drugs of some kind--at school, on TV, by the doctor, by a relative--each and every day. In 2012, DAILY vigilance is the price of a non-addicted child.

I am not advocating for pain. (The Pain Lobby gets few contributions, I feel certain.) I am not in favor of depression. (I am equally convinced that the Depression Political Action Committee has no members with whom I would wish to have a conversation.) Only a zealot would argue against narcotics, psycho-stimulants, and SSRIs for those who need truly them. I am suggesting that for a generation who doesn't remember life without the expression, "There's an AP for that," we have to be careful that they don't also believe "There's a pill for that."

No one wants to watch his child in pain, depressed, or doing badly in school.

But no one wants to watch his child in treatment for addiction to prescription medications either.

In no other country are pain medications dispensed so freely. At no point in the history of civilization have pain medications been so easily available. It's time in our culture for the pendulum to swing back toward the World War II slogan, "Make it do or do without." Because I have to wonder how many of the 2.3 million folks in this country incarcerated for drug related offenses started out in the ER with their dads with a prescription for pain from a well-meaning doctor.

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