Over-Prescribed: Mental Health & Drug Dependency

An experience with mental illness and prescription culture.

Douglas Balmain
Ascent Publication
Published in
9 min readJan 4, 2019


Preface: I feel the need to state that this is an extremely abbreviated account. This article could be expanded indefinitely; I hope only to make a generalized point, a point that I feel to be of vital importance as we seek to understand, treat, and better ourselves.

They greet you with a soft-spoken welcome, a searching smile, and a submissive handshake. You walk into a dank-smelling room that’s made up to emit some sort of pseudo-homey energies. The assessment begins as soon as contact is made; they allow you to choose which seat you’d like to sit in, and watch you decide as if it were some sort of significant indicator of who/what they’re working with.

They’ll begin the session with an open-ended introductory question that prompts you to begin speaking about yourself. If you lack direction, or begin fumbling over your own thoughts, they’ll begin offering more defined questions to help steer you towards the subject of your troubles. The topics you offer first will be telling, and will not be forgotten.

Should you find speaking about—or accessing—your thoughts difficult, the health care professional will probably implement a personal-confession of their own as a tactic to make you feel safe. If they expose a vulnerability, especially one that you can both relate to and empathize with, it will help you to feel safe and willing to expose a vulnerability of your own.

They’ll neither agree nor disagree with you. They won’t give personal answers to opinion based questions, they won’t affirm or condemn; they’ll continue answering your questions with questions, until you expose your own opinion of the question you asked of them. Completing these thought-circuits will tell them about your thinking process, your experiences, your opinions, your fears, your emotions, your insecurities, your traits and tendencies, your desire to affirm your own beliefs, etc.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM): the psychologist’s and psychiatrist’s bible.

They won’t wield the DSM immediately, you probably won’t even see it in view. But, you’ll see it in their eyes. As they watch you and…