Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dazed and Confused

A sedated nation. The '74 Valium percentage is stunning.

From Wellcome History...

1950s America: those were the good old days. Or were they? Viewing the past through rose-coloured spectacles – longing with a special kind of nostalgia for the white picket fences, home-baked cookies and families with a Mom, Dad and 2.5 children – makes misleading history. When contemporary critics bemoan today’s immoral society with its broken families and workaholic mothers, it is this era that they often hark back to. But postwar America was far from idyllic. Gazing historically inside the average suburban American house uncovers families still suffering from the economic fallout of the Depression, and a culture alarmed by the shadow of a constant threat of nuclear war and communism. The ‘domestic goddess’ cooking the family’s meal had a dark secret too. Everyday drug use for depression was very common among American mothers. 
In 1955, the first tranquilliser, Miltown, burst onto the American drug market. It was the first medicine to be marketed to the public in a manner similar to other popular consumer products, and was soon in huge demand. Within a year, a staggering 1 in 20 Americans were regularly prescribed it. Pharmacies frequently ran out of stocks, having to hang window signs declaring “Out Of Miltown – More Tomorrow!”

The drug was a potent and prescription-only tranquilliser, most often used by [suburban housewives]...Such anecdotes spawned a flurry of Miltown cocktail recipes for star-struck housewives to copy. There was the ‘Militini’, a martini with a pill replacing the olive. Or those more daring drinkers could try a ‘Guided Missile’ – a double vodka and two Miltowns. Cartier advertised a silver charm bracelet with a convenient holder designed for a single Miltown pill. This was a medicine like no other – until it was surpassed by its descendant, Valium. By 1974, an astonishing total of 53.4 million Americans were taking Valium – a quarter of the whole population.

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