The FDA, in the USA, is reviewing a drug that could tell doctors and caregivers if the person under their care is taking their medication. This is specifically being targeted towards individuals with mental health issues. Using a combination of Abilify (an antipsychotic) and a “digital sensor the size of a pencil tip”, doctors will be able to monitor if their patients are taking their psych drugs as prescribed.
The thought of this drug seriously makes me feel sick to my stomach. I can, of course, stretch my mind and think, “Oh, this is great because people should adhere to their medication to gain the positive effects,”…but…..that makes me feel sick too. This drug just oozes oppression, mistrust and lack of personal autonomy. I can surrender my personal beliefs about psych drugs and admit that some people, to keep them or others safe, need to be on these drugs, but to potentially use such oppressive means such as tracking their body chemistry as very upsetting.
The article opens with, “A digital drug under review by the Food and Drug Administration could offer a solution to one of the largest barriers to treating people with a serious mental illness: adherence to medication.” This sentence demonstrates what I believe is a huge problem within our mental health system and how mental health issues are viewed in society, “Who is the problem a problem for?” It sounds to me that this digital drug is supposed to make the lives of others better, not necessarily the lives of who would be taking the psych drugs or the digital drug.
People do not adhere to their psych drugs for a variety of reasons. I know for myself, I did not adhere to my psych drugs as prescribed because they were making me suicidal and homicidal. I also, as a teenager, abused my psych drugs and took many milligrams over the prescribed dose. I wish that my psychiatrist has listened to me when I told him I didn’t like the psych drugs I was on. So for me, a combination of physiological problems and issues with a mental health professional made me not adhere to my psych drugs.
I believe that it is important for mental health professionals to LISTEN to why their clients do not want to adhere to their psych drugs. We all have valid reasons even if professionals and caregivers do not agree. Listening tends to yield a lot of useful information. I also believe that a lack of psych drug adherence demonstrates the issue with psych drugs effects on the body and mind and the lack of available and affordable alternatives to psych drugs. For many, it is easier to get a prescription than it is to get a therapist. For some, their concerns could be managed and/or eliminated with proper therapy (and not the one size fits all therapy we currently have) without psych drugs or in combination with short-term use.
Again, yes, I get it, some people need psych drugs to be the best they can be. That is OK! But this tracking drug is NOT OK! As Jennifer Mathis, director of programs at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law says in the article, “Atypical antipsychotics can have very serious side effects, and uncertain efficacy for many individuals, so we should be extremely careful about technology that could be used to promote coercive delivery of these medications.”
We need to tread carefully as people with mental health issues have historically been treated horribly all in the name of “treatment.