If you’re like me, born with a genetic predisposition to addiction, you were born with a gift. We’re a creative group who find excitement in discovering new solutions to old problems. It’s the thrill of doing something new or taking things to new heights that keeps our motor running. Average, mediocre and mundane are words not found in our vocabulary – much less our lifestyle. Most importantly, we are achievers who contribute to society. We are the titans of business, politicians, professional athletes, entertainers, movie stars, musicians, construction workers and the person who brought you your meal at the local restaurant.
Robin Williams was not just one of us, but the embodiment of us all. For those who haven’t had a bout with depression, drug or alcohol abuse it will be difficult to comprehend what Robin Williams felt every day of his life. For the rest of us it is an all too familiar reminder of the grudging battle we fight daily to keep the demons at bay while we put our heart and soul into pursuing our dreams. As challenged as Williams was, he still found a way to be the absolute best at his craft; a true testament to his inner strength and fortitude.
What I find most endearing about Robin is what he did when the cameras were not rolling. Williams was a headliner for dozens of USO shows. He donated much of his free time to charities to help raise money for their cause. His heart was bigger that his infectious smile. Robin Williams was a role model that we can all learn from. One of the things I find most concerning about this tragedy is the utter lack of real solutions for Williams’ disorders. When someone of his stature and means can’t find help, it’s time to have an open and honest discussion about mental health and its treatment.
The simple truth of the matter is that mental health in our country has been pushed aside and swept under the carpet. Nearly forty years ago there was an almost giddy optimism amongst psychiatrists caused by the extensive research into mental health. The results provided the platform for new advances that early on showed great potential to dramatically improve the lives of people with disorders.
The atmosphere soon turned grim when budget cuts forced a downturn in funding and the closing of many psychiatric centers across the country. The promise of funding for a network of local clinics and halfway houses intended to replace the big institutions was never kept. With so few options, police and judges began placing the mentally challenged in prisons where they were least likely to receive the care they so desperately needed. It’s absolutely shameful that a person with severe mental illness requiring hospital care in 1900 would be better looked after then – over a hundred years ago – than they would today.
Coinciding with the deinstitutionalization of America was the emergence of a new Big Pharma business model with a major shift from research and development (R&D) of new products addressing existing needs to pure profiting. It was about this time that R&D costs rose exponentially. Rather than continue developing new product, Big Pharma opted to repurpose existing products for off label uses and develop ‘me too’ drugs that are cheaper to manufacture and market than drugs with a unique mechanism of action. Money was redirected from R&D to marketing. Currently Big Pharma spends almost twice as much on promotion as they do on R&D. In 2012, the industry on a whole invested nearly $3.5 billion into marketing drugs on the Internet, TV, radio and other outlets.
Big Pharma’s business plan worked and they became the darlings of Wall Street. Prescription drug sales were fairly static as a percent of US gross domestic product between 1960 and 1980. In the next twenty year increment – 1980 to 2000 – they tripled. According to IMS the global pharmaceutical industry can reach to US$1.1 trillion in 2014.
The sad consequence of these two seemingly unrelated events is that our current and future health will be determined by Wall Street.
The emphasis on developing new pharmaceutical drugs for the treatment of existing diseases that we saw up until the late 70’s has been replaced by apathy and pure profiteering. Humanitarianism is not profitable, so therefore, cut from the budget. Had this not been the case would Robin Williams still be with us today?
A growing demand for holistic remedies emerged with the downturn of research by Big Pharma and the inflated prices of their drugs.
Many people found that they could actually become well again by changing simple things in their lifestyle and avoiding the harsh side-effects of toxic pharmaceutical drugs. Many people have found relief from depression using holistic remedies.
Depression is a complicated disorder with many fathers. It can be brought on by simple things in our environment such as heavy metals and allergies or something more complex like Pyroluria or a thyroid condition. Some of the most common modalities proven to relieve anxiety and depression are transcendental meditation and exercise. Unfortunately, these modalities are almost always overlooked and not recommended by Big Pharma trained doctors.
The shaming has gone on for far too long. If public opinion of addiction and mental health is to change so that we can talk about it in its proper context like any other disease such as cancer or diabetes, it will be entirely up to us. Robin William’s death gave life to a new movement. He put his face on a disorder that has long been misunderstood by so many. Now the onus is on us to not let his sacrifice be in vain. We must tell our stories to anyone who will listen. Share your losses and victories with friends, family and on your social media accounts. Let the world know that depression and addiction are treatable diseases and that those who suffer from it are gifted people who make huge contributions to society. Now is our time to correct the misunderstandings that are standing in the way of quality care for us all!You were born with a gift – use it!
“His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly to those fighting personal battles” – Robin Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider, said in her statement.
God Bless You Robin Williams, we’ll miss you.
John Giordano DHL, MAC is a counselor, President and Founder of the National Institute for Holistic Addiction Studies, Laser Therapy Spa in Hallandale Beach and Chaplain of the North Miami Police Department. For the latest development in cutting-edge treatment check out his website: www.holisticaddictioninfo.com