Since I stepped in America, I have been exposed to the horrors of medication. In Ghana, I never really remember taking any medication for any illness apart from malaria. Each time I had a head ache, I was asked to drink lots of water and take a nap. When my tooth ached, I was asked to sleep it off. When I had a skin disease, I was asked to take three showers daily until my skin looked better and each time I had a severe cough, my grandmother will grind lots of pepper and ginger that made me feel better as soon as I drank them all. No medications seemed necessary. Neither were dosages; somehow, everyone knew just how many ginger was adequate or how much sleep qualified as enough without making you look lazy.
I remember times when I had a bad cough or was battling malaria. My mother will boil some herbs in a pot and I was only required to sit by the steaming pot with my entire body covered with a thick cloth, so my body could absorb the steam from the pot and I could inhale some too. Usually, that is all it took to cure a bad cold or free me from malaria.
When I came to the states though, the opposite was the norm here. I had to go through several tests and immunizations. Within a week, it had been determined that I might be contracting measles sometime in the future, meningitis, a month or two from the day of my arrival or I might already be exposed to tuberculosis. I was subjected to so many immunizations and medications that I fell ill.
Before I came to the states, I don’t remember contracting a single illness that lasted more than three days but here, my illness was so bad, they were thinking about quarantining me for some time or taking me back to Ghana. The first time I took a flu shot was when I came to the states and in that same year, I got the worst kind of flu that kept me up at night and made me feel horrible during the day.
I don’t know of a single person in Ghana that takes medications for a headache. Everyone I know just sleeps it off, takes in a lot of fluids and eats lot of fruits. Here in the states however, the tablets that my roommate has to take every morning is more than the number of tablets I have taken my entire life. I am not even exaggerating! I did not even know that depression was an illness that people took medications to fight against. If you were feeling moody or unhappy in Ghana, all you had to do was look at the people next door who had nothing to eat or were wailing because they had lost a loved one, to make you feel good about your life. No one ever went to the hospital to be treated for depression. I know for a fact that I did not know that depression pills were existent until I got to America.
When I told my roommate that I was finding it difficult to sleep at night, she diagnosed me of insomnia and prescribed an off the counter drug for me. When I called my mother back in Ghana to complain about the same issue, she asked me to stop eating late at night and to switch off my light before I jumped into bed. Medication was the last thing on her mind, whereas medication was the first suggestion my roommate made. This, and many more incidents, prompts me to question the prescription of medication here in America. Is it that drugs are so abundant here that medical researchers need people to try them and therefore ask doctors to prescribe them for their patients? In Ghana, like other developing countries, is the absence of lots of medication driving the choices that people make? Despite the fact that mortality rate in Ghana is higher than that in America, there are a lot of healthier people in Ghana than there are in America. Is drug abuse an issue in America that needs serious consideration?