Why Do Some People Refuse Medication? Issues with Production
Medication - something that many of us just consider part of everyday living. For many, medication slows down or even stops the progression of many harmful diseases, but many patients may try to actively avoid medication. So what gives? Why would someone refuse something that a lot of evidence says would extend their lives?
First, its important to consider the role of the pharmacy to the patient. The pharmacy dispenses the mass produced drugs in a legal, tracable way. However, this relationship might lead to serious situations that risk a patient’s health. For example, a pharmacy may, often for legitimate legal reasons, refuse to refill a prescription that a patient needs in order to survive, but a patient may not be able to visit the doctor until after the prescription needs to be refilled. This can lead to a delay in receiving medication, a delay that the patient is usually responsible for in the end if anything happens, and a delay that has a serious risk to lead of injury or death of a patient.
Therefore, the pharmacy has incredible power over a patient’s life while a patient needs medication. This has lead to systemic abuse of pharmacology to restrict, for example, access to birth control medication or hormone treatments that could be used in hormone replacement therapy for transgender people. Likewise, the prescriber themeselves can be a barrier to entry, denying diagnosis or even treating a problem improperly. Minorities across the board have a wide range of issues with dealing with medicine and how access and quality of care is distributed to them, and avoiding abuse from caretakers.
Medication-based treatments have also done major damage to other treatment options that may be underfunded, often due to unscientific political reasons. A major example is how mental health therapy has mostly been reduced to outpatient practices and forces patients and their families to have to manage complex healthcare decisions by themselves, including those related to other physiological conditions they might have, one of the results of shutting down state owned mental institutions. Because maintaining a large scale well-functioning inpatient psychotherapy facility is difficult and expensive, and we have failed to provide a financially accessible option to assist these people, our society often assumes that cheaper options that seem just as effective in trials are more cost-effective. However, this leads to major issues with how we ultimately treat mental illness.
An issue that arises from this complicaition is how medication acts as an accessibility function. In successful cases, medication can function as an accessibility tool to allow mentally ill people to participate in society. They become visible in society with the accessibility tool, in this case medication, representing a means of achieving a new level of human participation. However, because this association becomes a part of the image of that illness to a wider scope of people, those who are still unable to utilize this tool to help themselves find themselves in an even worse position - where they are fully responsible for their lives, but at the same time, unable to care for themselves, and unable to cry for real help. The image of their disability transformed under their feet - leading to a population dependent on families, friends or even left to die in the street.
On the other side of the coin, this dynamic can be used to abuse vulnerable populations; for example, transgender patients are often readily identified as mentally ill for their desire to change gender, which leads to the acceleration of real mental health issues.
So - even though pharmasutical medication can provide a lot of benefit, there are legitimate reasons to want to try to seek different routes. The problem is that in the current system of consumption that we live in, people who want to have access to an alternative are easily swindled, because the alienation produced by the medicine that produces medication also alienates the patient from a developed medical understanding.
Alternative medicine, for example, is a type of product that uses the vague signs of medicine, other sciences and often racistly appropriating signs from other cultures, making it seem like to a consumer that its an “alternative” to western medicine. It propogates because of this alienation between doctor and patient. If people already knew the basics about western medicine, they would know why this kind of appropriation is ridiculous. But most people do not have access to that information to know, and can only rely on essentially marketing from both the medical world and the alternative health world, making them nearly indistinguishable. This problem is not anything new by the way, it’s been known about for centuries. Alternative medicine poses a serious threat to disabled patients because of their exploitative pricing, haphazard production and extremely unreliable results. Not only this, but the appropriation of minority health care from various cultures results in the delegitimization of those cultures and techniques - some of which may never work in the context of industrial society but have nonetheless a legitimate existence within the context of another culture.
Without a body of serious knowledge, patients should never be expected to take proper decisions in their own healthcare, which is represented by how medicine continually encroaches our lives with invasive health insurance surveys, medical questions and data collection, opening a massive security hole into the lives of patients, a social cost paid invisibly through data abuse of the disabled. But why should patients be willing to participate in a medical system that inherently excludes them? Patients have much less power over their own care than doctors do, and are barely able to be informed - not because the doctor doesn’t want them to know, but because there is no time for them to be explained, due to the overcrowding of patients. Not only this, but they as patients have no access to the production of research that drives the way we produce medication and treatment.
In my opinion, there are a few policies that must be aggressively fought for that can fix the situation:
- Universal healthcare, as socialized as possible. People should not have to worry about whether or not they can afford treatment. I speak as a former health insurance worker and someone who interviewed my docs about the subject - privatized insurance is THE largest barrier to healthcare in the modern world. It’s existence is parasitic and should be removed from society. You are paying for rich people’s jobs. Get real.
- Challenge the conservative structures of medicine that force patients into a submissive position of discussion. The end goal of medicine is to improve the lives of the patient. Patients should be the one leading the discussion, not just doctors.
- Challenge individual patient responsibility. Healthcare is a social condition, we should treat it socially.
- Break up big business in medicine, which is the largest growing industry to date, and force all levels of production of medication to be open sourced.
- Force more disabled participation in design of clinical studies and ethics commmittees.
- A serious economic analysis of alternative medicine. Alternative medicine represents one of the biggest failures of capitalist medicine.
- Empathy, understanding and serious analysis of those who were swindled by alternative medicine. It’s not a joke that people die years early because they made an avoidable mistake. Understand why that mistake happened and actually help people.