All psychoactive drugs, and many other drugs, produce drug dependence when taken for long periods - i.e. more than a few weeks - and to stop the drug then entails going-through a withdrawal reaction.
When the drug is tapered-off, and if the withdrawal is not hurried, then many people will be able to withdraw from a long-term drug; but for some people the reaction is too severe - or too severe to be managed in the context of their actual lives - and then the person is likely to continue taking that drug indefinitely.
However, the near-universal of phenomenon of drug tolerance - by which the brain (and body) adjusts to the presence of the drug, and the drug either loses its effect or a higher dose is required for the same effect, means that people can and do become dependent on drugs which are giving them no benefit.
Even worse, the long term drug user may well be experiencing zero benefit but instead significant impairments (side effects) from a drug which they are dependent upon.
All this from acting upon what is presented as the best medical advice - following official guidelines - and from good (albeit ignorant) intentions.
How big a problem is this in modern societies? Almost surely a very big problem indeed - if defined as long term prescribed drug taking, without benefit, with side effects, and which the patient cannot, in practice, stop - then certainly it is affecting several percent of the population of Britain.
All the psychiatric drugs generate dependence, and are difficult to withdraw from without provoking withdrawal psychiatric problems - sometime worse than the original indication.
Thus it is not just tranquillizers (such as barbiturates, bendodiazepines of the Valium type, or 'Z' sleeping tablets of the zopiclone type) and psychostimulants (amphetamins or Ritalin) which cause dependence and often chronic use - but all the major drug groups: antidepressants (including SSRIs), antipsychotics, 'mood stabilizers of all types, including anticonvulsants - and lithium.
ALL the drugs.
This is not rocket science. The facts were known back in the sixties or even earlier - but have been 'forgotten', denied, confused - obfuscated in every way imaginable.
So, increased psychiatric drug use leads to chronic psychiatric drug dependence - and the prescriptions of these agents continue to rise alarmingly - for a=example SSRI antidepressants in the UK are increasing at about 7 percent PER YEAR, year upon year - the fastest growing prescribed drugs of all; and antipsychotics are being given as 'mood stabilizers' for minor 'neurotic' indication even to children - with Ablify the biggest income generating drug in the whole world. Even benzodiazepine (including 'Z' drug) prescribing continues to rise - despite thirty years of public and professional knowledge that these drugs are addictive.
In addition, people become dependent on antihypertensives, statins and any other drug taken in the long term.
The formula is very simple: increase long term drug prescribing and you will increase drug dependence - and this will happen regardless of whether or not people are benefited or harmed by the drug.
Presumably the prescriptions for psychoactive drugs continue to rise, and profits to increase, despite a general decline in prescriptions costs for most other drugs - because each new prescription of a psychoactive drug has a fair probability of creating a new psychoactive drug 'addict' (in the sense of someone dependent on the drug who cannot stop it without feeling so much worse that, in practice, this is very difficult and in practice not possible) - and so prescriptions accumulate.
So we are become - and this is happening very rapidly - a long-term, perhaps permanently psychoactively-drugged population - a population impaired by these drugs, yet dependent on them.
But nobody is interested - the government does not even attempt to collect data on this topic - which (in the UK) is always a sign that they do not want to know about it - more exactly that they already know, but do not want to put a number to it.
The reason is not hard to understand - from the warped perspective of the modern, or rather 'postmodern' state - which includes the big pharmaceutical companies and the health service professionals.
Increased drug dependence creates profits for Big Pharma, Big Pharma is good for the economy - and Big Pharma is good for the personal status, wealth and professional prestige of leading politicians, regulators, doctors and researchers.
Massive and growing prescribed drug dependence benefits Big Pharma - and this benefits the ruling elites in the modern .
Because Big Pharma dominate medical research, and medical research is BY FAR the largest and most prestigious kind of 'science' in the world today. Big Pharma dominates health service research. Big Pharma dominates the prestigious kind of drug and therapeutic research - the kind that gets you jobs, publications, promotions, power.
Big Pharma is not separable from the state, and is not separable from the ruling elites - whether they are in health service administration and management, health service provision, medical research or medical education.They all benefit both materially and also in terms of status from mass drug dependence.
Mass drug dependence is money and security, jobs and prestige - for the ruling elites - in the blinkered and myopic way that they perceive things - mass drug dependence is a no brainer: a must-have.
The new generation of prescribed drug 'addicts' are docile, and do not create trouble - from the rulers perspective it will always seem a 'good thing' to have more of them (until a certain point is reached...) - and this mass doping can easily be justified in terms of providing more health services - giving people what they need.
In fact, the mass creation of drug addicts is spun as medical progress! More medicines means more health! And dealing with the problems means more administrative empires and more jobs!
What's not to like?
Please do not mistake this analysis for a call to action - there will be no backlash. Because there is nobody to lash-back - or nobody that matters...
What I am describing is a pathology of modern governance that is so deep as to be ineradicable without destruction of the basic structure of modernity.
To cure this would entail a kind of altruistic suicide of the elites.
Altruism of the elites? Yeah, sure: that's going to happen...
All the people with power, all the most prestigious people, the most famous doctors and psychiatrists, the leading researchers (i.e. the one's with the biggest funding), all the senior administrators and managers - all of these groups benefit (professionally) from and are happy with these trends; and all are trained not to think beyond what is pragmatic and politically possible in the short term.
There is therefore nobody to stop these trends, and nobody who is able to stop them that wants to stop them.
Therefore please do not expect me to persuade you of the truth of what I am saying. You do not want to be persuaded, and you will find more-than-ample reason to reject it. But it is true, nonetheless.
Those in opposition to mass prescribed drug dependence have neither power nor prestige - and who listens to weaklings and losers?
You or I may opt out (if we are allowed to) but these trends of increasing mass drug dependence will continue and continue... until they can continue no more.
Only then will it stop.