The only accurate record of the amount spent on drugs to induce relaxation is kept by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Research Department. During the financial year 1978-79 Australians spent 17-75 million dollars on tranquillizers, sedatives, and hypnotics. The cost to the Government in rebates was 19-7 million dollars.

Unfortunately patients and many doctors have come to regard mood-altering drugs as a panacea for all kinds of social, physical and emotional ills. Interestingly enough, many people who would not think of taking alcohol do not seem to mind taking the various psychotrophic drugs available. Nevertheless, the most widely-used drug of all in our society is alcohol. It brings pleasure and relaxation when used carefully, yet misery and destruction when yielded to.

We believe that there is a place for placebos—pills that contain no medication but that nevertheless work because the patient believes they will work. In fact, many ‘genuine’ drugs an? capable of curing people in part because of what is called a placebo effect. Bogus pills, or clinically inappropriate ones, are just the beginning of placebo medicine. Any treatment which has no definable curative powers but which nevertheless improves the patient’s health, qualifies as such. This goes for the miracles at Lourdes, and other examples of faith healing. The best placebo of all, in a way, may well be a good doctor-patient relationship.


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