The advances of modern medicine have helped quality of life, prolonged aging and saved millions of lives. Without medications like penicillin and other antibiotics, minor childhood illnesses could become hospitalizations or worse. When do we reach the point of overmedication?

Medicine is a good part of our world. 

Unfortunately we've come to a day and age where a visit to the doctor office is considered incomplete without a prescription and a vast majority of American's are overmedicated. How do we find the balance? 

Dangers of overmedication

According to USNews, 81% of adults use at least one drug to treat a chronic health problem. Thanks to the prevalence of direct to consumer advertising, it's become common for patients to head into the doctors office with a 'diagnosis' in hand, demanding the magic solution they've seen on TV.

Overmedication is a trues epidemic. Trying to cope with depression, anxiety, and stress, many women use various prescribed medications too long.  The pharmaceutical industry targets women, applying constant public pressure to restrain emotionality. As a result, many find a way out in medications which hide natural emotions and make them synthetic. Unfortunately, patients frequently neglect prescription use period becoming addicted to certain pills.

Drug addiction is a complex issue requiring proper attention. Women-only treatment centers can provide treatment focusing the female-specific needs. Such facilities have rehabilitation programs for single women, pregnant women, and women with children. That is why women's rehabs have proved their efficacy in treating drug and alcohol addictions of any kind and severity.

The risks of taking unnecessary medications can be as minor as that drug no longer performing its intended purpose later, or a severe allergic reaction like Stevens Johnson SyndromeIn 2014, 1.3 million patients were treated in United States emergency rooms for adverse drug reactions and 124,000 died from the reaction.

Antibiotic resistant bacteria is on the rise, creating one of the most urgent threats to public health. Illnesses that were once easily to treat with lose doses of antibiotics are no longer responding, leading to dangerous and life threatening infections. Antibiotic resistant bacteria can be created in several ways.

Every time a person uses antibiotics, a portion of the bacteria is killed and a small amount of resistant bacteria is left to grow and multiply. This is why repeatedly taking antibiotics can render that antibiotic useless. Taking a portion of an antibiotic and not finishing its course can also allow this to happen. This is why it is so important for a 10 day prescription to be taken 100%.

Antibiotics should not be used for viral infections like the common cold, sore throats, bronchitis or sinus infectious, but because many folks insist on leaving a doctors visit with a prescription, those illnesses are being treated with drugs better saved for more severe situations.

Outside of antibiotics, there has been a large increase in using medication to control behavioral issues that may or may not require a lifetime dosage of psychostimulants.

The CDC reported a 5 times increase in the number of children receiving Ritalin during 2007-2010 versus the previous reporting period of 1988-1994 and over 10,000 toddlers are currently receiving the drug. Without in-depth testing to confirm if a child is in need of a psychostimulant medication, the diagnosis becomes a subjective choice between a parent and a doctor. What one family may consider healthy energy, another may feel is ADHD. IF the behavior is cured by the medication, the diagnosis is deemed appropriate and in many instances may be necessary.

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What happens to all of the children who are medicated for hyperactivity but do not in fact need it? Using psychostimulant at a young age alters the chemistry in a growing brain and could tie back to other disorders later in life. It raises the question of how do you know when it is appropriate to medicate and when it is not. 

Outside of children, the opioid crisis in America is a real problem. In the 90's pharmaceutical companies worked hard to ensure doctors and medical providers that opioid pain relievers were not addicting. As a result, doctors prescribed those drugs at a higher rate leading to widespread issues of addiction throughout the county. Today over 11.5 million people misuse prescription opioids and 116 people die from related drug over doses everyday. When prescribed opioids or any painkiller, the treatment course is very different from that with antibiotics. A painkiller should be taken at the lowest dose possible, for the shortest amount of time necessary.


It's easy to get to a point where drug A has been prescribed to solve a problem like being focused and drug B is prescribed to counter the side effects of that drug. Preventing overmedication is hard, but an important way to protect your health and the health of your family for years to come.

How to prevent overmedication 

  • Don't expect to leave a doctor's office with a prescription.
  • Find a doctor who is not prescription 'happy'.
  • If you are prescribed an antibiotic, take the full dosage.
  • Seek second opinions. If multiple doctors can corroborate a diagnosis, it's likely one that should receive medication.
Interested in learning more about the opioid crisis? Read our article on what parents need to know.

Are we over medicated? When is enough enough?

Sources: CDC, USNews, NIMH, Consumer reports, NIDA
Photo Credit: Pexels