November 27, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 50  

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Fix your fears & pop the pills

By Kelly Marcella
Gazette Staff

Gazette File Photo
A LITTLE RITALIN WILL SOOTHE YOUR SOUL. Our generation has been more receptive to new drugs that “fix” our minds.

Drugs have long been a part of the lives of many youth in 20th century society, but it seems that more and more people are turning to drugs as quick fixes for all of life’s problems.

Whether it’s marijuana and other illegal chemicals, or prescription drugs like Ritalin — it seems in this day and age people are increasingly quick to turn to a chemical fix for a social or personal problem.

According to Alan Leschied, a psychologist and professor in Western’s faculty of education, this generation’s suicide rates, depression rates and hard drug use are on the rise. “Maybe more people are self-medicating because of a higher degree of vulnerability,” he said, noting questions of school safety and divorces can create more angst and fear among youth.

Generations before ours have grown up amongst the violence of two World Wars, the Cold War and Vietnam, along with civil rights and women’s movements; periods of huge social and political upheaval that have defined their generations.

Our generation has not experienced these traumatic events, but we have grown up in an era of AIDS, the Columbine shootings and the complete breakdown of the “traditional” family unit. Concerns about personal health and school safety hit home with much stronger force and to a wider range of people because these things are random, and they happen without warning in our homes and schools. Social stigmas still attached to children in divorced families or in gay marriages further affect youth mentality in a way that arguably encourages internalization of all of these fears.

From Ritalin to Prozac, more and more “miracle cures” for internalized problems continue to crop up in hopes for some sort of a quick fix. Acid in the ’60s to escape from reality has been replaced with prescription drugs in the ’90s to return to reality.

Couple these newly available acceptable drugs and an increasingly unstable and insecure world and the only possible solution is the cynicism, apathy and self-destructive nature of today’s younger generation.

Regardless, this society continues to forget that medication does not solve problems — it only hides them and pushes them farther away from the surface. Our youth generation has been given the prescription to avoid all the fears and concerns they’ve internalized and has yet to find a suitable outlet to resolve them.



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