American Depressions Series: The Drugging of America

Posted on November 18, 2011 by

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Editorial Note: Socialist Agenda is running a week-long series. The series was originally published on tikkun.org in January 2010.

By Harriet Fraad

The fifth tributary that helped to create our deluge of disaster is both a cause and an effect of America’s social breakdown. This is the numbing of Americans with psychotropic drugs. In 2006, Americans, who make up approximately 6 percent of the world’s population, consumed 66 percent of the world’s supply of antidepressants. In 2002, more than 13 percent of Americans were taking Prozac alone. Prozac is one of thirty available antidepressants. Anti-anxiety drugs, such as Zoloft, are so widely prescribed that in the year 2005, the $3.1 billion sales of Zoloft exceeded the sales for Tide detergent.

Many of these drugs, which are also called “cosmetic drugs” or “life-enhancing drugs,” are diagnosed for loneliness, sadness, life transitions, or concentration on task performance. They have been “normalized” through extensive direct-to-consumer advertising and marketing to doctors who are financially rewarded for recommending them to colleagues. Regulations that once restrained the widespread promotion and sales of these powerful drugs have been relaxed to the point of near nonexistence. The United States is the only Western nation that permits direct-to-consumer drug advertising. We are also the only nation without price controls on drugs. Psychiatric drugs are so ubiquitous that the pharmaceutical industry is the most profitable industry in America, and antidepressants are their most profitable products.

Editor’s Note: Harriet Fraad is a psychotherapist-hypnotherapist in practice in New York City. She is a founding member of the feminist movement and the journal Rethinking Marxism.  For forty years, she has been a radical committed to transforming U.S. personal and political life.

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