Pills offer the promise of cure with the lure of ease. Feeling sad? Take an anti-depressant. Feeling anxious? Take a tranquilizer. A pill-sized solution to our problems is alluring. When work, family and hobbies compete for our attention, it makes sense that we want an easy way to stay healthy.
But the innocent-looking shell of a pill hides the risks of addiction and dependency. Over the long-term, pills may not work as well as non-chemical treatments. For insomnia, cognitive behavioral therapy can be more effective in the long-term (and with fewer side effects) than sleeping pills. For anxiety, switching to a less-stressful job that doesn’t take away your evenings and weekends might work better than a tranquilizer.
Maybe in the future, doctors won’t prescribe drugs anymore, they will prescribe experiences. We may rely on chemical fixes for some conditions, but find that a big hug or a good laugh is the best medicine for others. Feeling aimless? Try preparing for a marathon to focus your energies. Feeling anxious? Take a week off and go hiking in the Rockies. Maybe a week at Disney World will be the next Prozac.