I awoke in the night to a sound I hadn’t heard for a long time, and fortunately it wasn't rats, but something welcome, though it took my sleep-dulled mind a moment to register: rain! Strong, steady, ground-saturating rain.
I’d been missing its presence, and most of all its effects on the earth, and its return last night was particularly welcome because it allowed me to plant taro this morning in soft, wet, receptive soil. It’s a full moon in Scorpio, too, so especially good for planting.
The soft, unformed brains of teenagers and adolescents are also fertile soil for planting all sorts of messages, a fact that isn’t lost on marketers, who make gazillions exploiting the fears, insecurities and peer pressure that plague most Americans — especially teens.
So why would anyone be surprised to discover that kids are using prescription drugs to get high, as is reported in a Garden Island story today on "pharming," or that alcohol continues to be the top drug of choice?
After all, from the time they’re tiny keiki they’ve been watching TV, with its plethora of prescription drug ads, abundance of beer commercials and myriad booze-sponsored sporting events. Why wouldn’t they think it’s the norm to self-medicate, when they see it happening constantly, both all around them and in that strange pseudo world of TV?
And then, of course, there’s the fact that kids today are medicated legally at a higher rate than we’ve ever before seen. Most of that comes in the form of drugs like Ritalin, which are based on the chemical methylphenidate and used to combat Attention Deficit Disorder.
As BBC news reports:
In 1994 there were just 4,000 prescriptions for methylphenidate, 10 years later that figure had gone up to 359,000 - a 90-fold increase.
Sometimes, they’re even given these drugs by the schools, or parents are told they have to medicate their kids or keep them home.
Is it any wonder, then, that they don’t think that drugs peddled by the multinational pharmaceutical companies — the new, legalized pushers — are any big deal?
I’ve also read a number of articles lately about how very young children — I’m talking under 8 — are being given heavy-duty psychotropic drugs after questionable diagnoses of manic-depressive disorder, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses typically not associated with children. These drugs have not been tested on kids and the long-term effects on developing brains and bodies aren't known.
As Kauai’s Dr. Gerald McKenna noted in the Garden Island article:
”The drugs keep changing, but the problem doesn’t change,” McKenna said. “The whole idea that we are an addictive society is the problem.”
That’s a big part of this ongoing issue, but it’s not the whole story. There’s also this desire to achieve some sort of “norm” in human behavior. Problem is, that “norm” is largely defined by the pharmaceutical companies, which promise that if only you take their drugs, you’ll be like everybody else supposedly is: happy, slim, sleeping through the night, focused, always ready for sex, young and perky— but not too much so.
It’s all a bunch of crock, but so many Americans are buying it and even foisting it on their kids. Why in the world would we think kids wouldn’t model this behavior, with often tragic results?
To change the subject entirely, I’ve begun blogging for Audubon Magazine, too, so if you’d like to read my posts, and the marvelous photos by Hob Osterlund, please check out their site.
And tomorrow night I’ll be one of several speakers discussing the Hawaii Superferry — my topic is its military links, which some people still doubt — at the 6 p.m. meeting of the Eco Roundtable at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall on Hardy Street in Lihue. Stop by if you want to hear the latest.