Americans don’t shy away from taking pills. According to IMS Health, an estimated 16 million people in the United States use painkillers, 5 million take sleep aids and 18 million rely on some form of antidepressants. In this week’s “Super Soul Sunday,” Oprah and a panel of dynamic thought leaders tackle the issue of pill-popping in this country — is it a necessity or has it become gratuitous?
For Oprah, the pill-popping statistics raise a deep philosophical question. “Do these numbers point to a collective hole in the soul of our country?” she asks her panel in the video. Reverend Ed Bacon of the All Saints Episcopal Church addresses the issue of taking pills with a personal admission that he himself takes sleep aids and pain medicine.
“For me, it is an OK thing to do if it’s going to help me enter life. If it helps me avoid life, that’s a different matter,” Rev. Bacon says, drawing a distinct line. “If I am avoiding life, then there is a hole in my soul, yes.”
Oprah returns to the current statistics on pills. “But I’m looking at the number of 40 million U.S. adults who are plagued with some kind of anxiety disorder,” she says. “I mean, people take pills like candy.”
Rev. Bacon understands that characterization. “As a pastor, I hear about this all the time. So, I really do understand the overuse of anti-anxiety drugs,” he says. “[But], before we go there, I simply want to lay down a foundation of respect for people who do have a chemical imbalance, because I would hate for somebody who’s watching to think that we’re dissing them and discounting them.”
Oprah and her guests continue their discussion on pills and explore additional topics of gun violence, celebrity obsession and terrorism on “Super Soul Sunday,” airing Sunday, May 26, at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.