In recent times we have been bombarded by numerous ethical and sociological issues such as global warming, over population, nuclear threats, sexual harassment, bullying, obesity, terrorism, gender inequality and many more. Imbedded in these issues are the inevitable growing concerns of our health.
We’ve witnessed health flourish to a multi-billion-dollar industry with enormous resources allocated in the Western world. However, despite all the good intentions, the overall health of the population does not reflect the advances made in medicine and the money spent.
The obesity rate is rising every year, our mental health is waning and the rate of iatrogenic complications are increasing rapidly, including an increase in mortality from prescription drugs, namely opioids.
Despite all this, we are encouraged to ‘cure’ pain with further interventions that include other chemicals such as medicinal cannabis. One only has to look at the history of the human love affair with chemicals and its associated industry to realise that perhaps we are making the same mistakes, all over again, at a point in our global history where the expanding population is bursting at the seams and has major issues around resource distribution and sustainability.
Perhaps it’s time that we change directions to give the next generation and the planet a better chance for the future.
Perhaps, instead of politicians and the industry swaying our minds and action we need to be guided by sound and non-commercially conflicted science, intellectuals, philosophers and those who practise science and not entrepreneurship.
As far as pain medicine is concerned, the path is quite clear if you look beyond ‘curing pain’ to tackling suffering instead. The essence of what we do, as medical practitioners, is not about fixing isolated problems but creating the opportunities for rehabilitation and return to function with emphasis on quality of life and purpose.
We need to be mindful that being passive and relying on chemicals and invasive interventions to solve our problems is not the way forward and has not been since the Industrial Revolution. There is a call for more thought into this and an approach with sustainability at the forefront. I like to think that I am more than an extension to a prescription pad or a hand on an invasive instrument and I can guide patients away from suffering rather than ‘cure‘ their pain.
It may sound far-fetched, however, I fear we only have a small window of opportunity to turn things around before demand outstrips resources, which will lead to a prolonged winter of suffering.
Please consider these reading lists and podcasts:
Behave by Robert Sapolsky
The Brain That Changes Itself and The Brain That Heals Itself by Norman Doidge
Sapiens. A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
The Genetics of Health by Dr Sharad P. Paul
Waking up with Sam Harris (Podcast)
Jordan Peterson (Podcast)