When their kids had problems, my grandparents’ generation had a cheap and easy solution: “get over it”. (Repeat as necessary until child gets over it)
My grandmother did this to me a lot when I was growing up, in extreme cases punctuating it with an eye roll to illustrate that there were starving children in Africa, for godssakes, and I had nothing to complain about.
My parents’ generation, on the other hand, thought that their kids’ problems were best solved through therapy. I know women my mom’s age whose offspring have been in talk therapy since they could talk.
But all those SUV-driving-huge-sunglasses-wearing-cell-phone-talking-designer-purse-toting-thirty-something-moms have yet another child rearing philosophy: Whatever your kid’s problem is, medicate the shit out of it.
I’ve heard of Generation Rx, of course, those darn sneaky kids who raid mommy’s medicine cabinet for a high. I think I might technically be part of GenRx, although the label seems to apply primarily to the tween set. People my age go to high school and snort crack, as far as I know, pill-popping is for weaker souls.
But the Truth commercials, having long since given up the ghost trying to stop college kids from smoking pot, seem extremely concerned about GenRx. So does the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Check out this AP story.
NEW YORK – About one in five teenagers have tried prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin to get high, with the pill-popping members of “Generation Rx” often raiding their parents’ medicine cabinets, according to a study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. The 17th annual study on teen drug abuse, released Thursday, found that more teens had abused a prescription painkiller in 2004 than Ecstasy, cocaine, crack or LSD. One in 11 teens had abused over-the-counter products such as cough medicine, the study reported.
Three things I gleaned from this story:
1) Does anyone still take LSD? I thought we, as a nation, kicked that in late 1978 with all those drug education films featuring talking hot dogs.
2) Why did they begin doing studies on teen drug use the year I was born? Are they trying to tell me something?
3) This is the problem, as near as I can tell: the Truth ads and the PFADFA (I have no idea if that’s the correct acronym) are selling the story that kids are stealing meds from their parents. But from what I heard the other day, these kids pretty much all have their own prescriptions.
My mom related to me a harrowing tale of sitting amongst a group of 12- to 13-year-olds we know.
“And they were all just one-upping each other about how many drugs they took,” she said. “It was, oh, I take this for my anxiety, and when I can’t sleep my mom gives me benadryl, and one of them was talking about how when she had to get a shot she screamed so much that eleven nurses had to hold her down, so now they have to give her something before she gets the shot to calm her down…..”
I think this last is the most superfluous of all these superfluous drugs. I remember a time (1995 or so) when I was younger than eight (i.e. a lot younger than thirteen) when I knew in my heart that if I protested getting a shot my mother would jerk me back home so fast my head would spin, and that the car ride there would consist entirely of a discussion about how grievously I embarrassed her. That’s Southern discipline: you do not embarrass your mama.
Also, I knew that she would explain to me in great detail the disease I was getting inoculated against. There were starving children in Africa, dammit, who would have given their eyeteeth to get this shot. My mother would no sooner have allowed a nurse to restrain me than drive the wrong direction on the highway.
But not today. Today you give your children anti-anxiety drugs so that they won’t be anxious about how many drugs they take.
And the anti-anxiety meds are the primary ones I take issue with, anyway: what the hell do these kids have to be anxious about? If I attended a private school, didn’t have a job, owned more than one iPod, a razor phone, upwards of fifty pairs of shoes, a wardrobe full of designer clothes, weighed less than 120 pounds, and had parents who could literally write a check for my entire college tuition, I think anti-anxiety meds would be the very last thing I needed. Actually, I might need downers of some kind to prevent me running through the town throwing hundred-dollar bills into the air.
Maybe you think these kids are anxious about school. Well, I’d be anxious about school too, were I making straight Ds, as many of the kids in this conversation are.
“They’re in middle school,” Jules said once, “how do you make Ds in middle school? Middle school is a [very bad word] free ride. You’d have to work at it to make Ds in middle school.”
As high school students doing college-level work, making straight As, leading others in extracurricular activities, doing occasional volunteer work, and popping no pills excepting an ibuprofen here and there to deal with the terrible headaches we get from listening to rich middle schoolers bitch and moan about how awful their lives are; Jules, Kikki, and I think these children irreparably stupid.
Or so I thought.
When I told Jules, who currently has a horrendous case of plantar fasciitis, about this post, she actually chortled. “Do you know what I take every night?” she asked. “Two aspirins for the pain in my foot, then something to help me sleep because aspirin makes me hyper, then something for my allergies……” the list went on. Then I remembered that Kikki’s mom is a physician’s assistant and they have stuff from drug reps lying all over their house.
Apparently I’m the only unmedicated person I know. Possibly because my parents don’t have any drugs worth stealing or wheedling. I think getting high off nasal spray is probably more work than it’s worth.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Tom Cruise; there is definitely such a thing as a chemical imbalance, modern medicine is a wonderful thing, and plantar fasciitis sucks. People totally need medication for some things. But shouldn’t that be a last resort? Shouldn’t saying “I’m feeling anxious,” prompt a day or two of relaxation before a prescription; shouldn’t you try taking the phone off the hook before prying off that childproof cap – especially if you aren’t even a grownup?
A University of Michigan study released in December also noted the apparent growing popularity of OyxContin among teens. Dr. Mitchell Rosenthal, head of the Phoenix House drug treatment facility, said his agency has watched the use of painkillers by adolescents rise in recent years. “Adolescents find the line between drugs that do good for you and drugs that make you feel good becoming fuzzier every year,” said Rosenthal, whose non-profit organization treats 6,000 patients in nine states. “This is a wake-up call to parents.”