Twice the amount of prescription medication is now being taken here in Britain, compared to a decade ago. Around 29 million prescriptions were given out in 2017, according to ITV documentary ‘Britain on Painkillers’. This situation is also prevalent in America, with these same drugs being the leading cause of overdoses. But what if there’s another way? We’ll come to that further on.
We understand that in some cases prescription drugs may be the only option. We are in no way medical experts, but it sometimes feels like too many people are simply given drugs without treating or identifying the underlying issue and symptoms.
Without sounding cynical, the pharmaceutical industry is a monstrous money-making machine. In 2017, the global industry was worth $934.8 billion and is estimated to reach $1170 billion by 2021.
When you switch on the news, there are continual reports of the pressures doctors are under. Everything is now target-based, and we have simply become numbers on a spreadsheet. We are just customers to these pharmaceutical companies.
It’s worth watching a particular episode of ‘Last night with John Oliver’ in which he discusses this issue. He talks about the situation in America with prescription drugs, in particular Oxycontin.
When you watch and read what’s happening, it’s difficult to believe our health and well-being is at the forefront of these companies’ priorities. You start to feel that they would rather have you addicted to their products than be cured.
Extremists even believe cures for cancer have already been found, but are kept secret due to the amount of money being made from cancer drugs.
A recent painting by CreativeFolk artist Paul Kneen makes a statement about the situation. Called ‘Happy Pills’, the painting shows hundreds of iconic smiley faces cascading from an open pill. The background also features £50 notes – highlighting the money that’s being made.
Paul says, “I wanted to create a piece that spoke about the issue of drug dependency, and the money being made from these addictions. I chose the smiley face as I felt it was the perfect reflection of the fake mask we wear when on these drugs. I agree that in certain situations these prescription meds can help, but often they are simply hiding the problem and lead to more serious issues further down the road.”
We love this new piece by Paul Kneen. The pop art style is bold and vibrant, and the message really hits home.
As we stated earlier, we are most definitely not medical experts – and these words written are simply our opinions and thoughts, but as this crisis worsens we thought we’d look at an alternative to prescribed medication.
This is where art therapy comes in.
Talk to any artist, musician, actor, dancer and they will inevitably mention how therapeutic they find being creative is. For many this creativity allows their mind to focus on the task at hand, to think about the ‘here and now’ rather than worry about all the ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’ the future may hold.
Art therapy comes in many forms, and allows participants to express their feelings through a variety of mediums. It can help to work through issues, problems and traumas resulting in greater clarity, confidence and resolution. Although many studies have been done, according to Mind.org the numbers have been too small to reach a conclusion on the success of art therapy.
All we can say is, that as artists, we know and appreciate the power of creativity. No matter how bad our day has been, as soon as we pick up a brush – the worries of the day simply subside. Our only focus is to create. And with that comes a sense of accomplishment and well-being that no pill can ever replace.
If you’d like to find out more about art therapy and the prescription drug crisis, here are some great links for you: