Monday, January 03, 2011

Take two martinis and call me in the morning

Talking about the social costs and benefits of drug use at Ta-Nehisi Coates' place got me thinking about self-medication and how weird it is that substances that don't come from a pharmacy are basically considered bad habits by mental health professionals.  If you use alcohol to self-medicate for social anxiety, why shouldn't a therapist advise you in how to do this safely?  They'll do it with Xanax, which has its own dangers and potential for addiction.  

Now, the obvious answer is corruption (kickbacks from pharma?), as well as American Puritainism, but I think the idea is really promising, since swallowing a glass of wine before diving into the conversation at the office party doesn't really come across as something a crazy person would do.  Taking a pill kind of does.  Embracing traditional treatments like these could really reduce the impression of the overmedicalization of normal human behavior in psychiatry, and obviate some of the stigma of mental illness.

The same idea could apply to the use of (somehow decriminalized) marijuana.

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