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Past the Pill

 

All it takes is a simple comment or action and a bee’s nest appears. Another thought is another bee. One by one each thought emerges. You feel consumed. It’s not a bee’s nest, those are hornets. They are swarming. You can’t control your thoughts. All eyes are on you. Your heart is beating faster. Faster. Your hands shake. During the transition we undergo from a teen to a young adult, this pile of trepidation is thriving from each stress factor in our lives. Instead of depending on a pill to relieve our anxieties, we should consider other coping mechanisms that will be more beneficial throughout our lives.

Millennials are known as the “anxiety generation”-prone to worry. As high school students, we worry about college, sports, grades and expectations by our parents and society. Attached to our phones, incessantly in the loop of social media, we can’t catch our breath. We can’t step back from the tumultuous roar of expectations and judgement. We’re suffocating. Our generation was raised on instant feedback of likes on an Instagram post; we heavily rely on this immediate gratification as our lifeline to feel self-sufficient. Society has engraved unrealistic expectations into our minds, and we’ve unconsciously added stress to the growing pile we’ve already accumulated.

Growing up in this environment, it is justifiable why many teens face anxiety. In the United States alone, during 2013 from ages 13 to 24, 2,311,226 teens and young adults were prescribed anti-anxiety medications (“Number”). This has created a generation dependent on prescription drugs. Prescribing medication without reluctance or considering other options is making this growing problem worse. Side effects of benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety medications) include: sedation, dizziness, weakness, depression, memory impairment… the list goes on (“Benzodiazepine). Teens prescribed these medications face intense withdrawal and are 12 times more likely to abuse them than those not using prescription medication(“Teens”). In fact, overdoses from anxiety drugs are becoming more frequent, as they were the cause of 30% of the 22,767 prescription drug deaths in 2013 (Rabin).  A simple solution to prevent this abuse is to refrain from prescribing benzodiazepines so willingly.

Stress is what makes us human. If we medicate teens to help them cope instead of teaching them strategies for how to deal with anxiety, they will not know how to handle the stress of adult life. If a child breaks her leg, we wouldn’t expect her to walk on crutches endlessly. We would send her to physical therapy to regain her strength, so eventually, she can walk on her own. So why do we prescribe teens pills to use as their crutches indefinitely instead of teaching them how to cope on their own?