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The Problem With Ron Artest and Antidepressants
November 24, 2004
by Tony Zizza

You don't have to be an NBA fan to feel extreme disgust after watching highlights of the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons brawl last friday night. If you are an NBA fan, as I am, than it is now time to talk about the problem with Ron Artest and antidepressants.

New York Daily News sports writer Roger Rubin wrote an excellent article that was published November 21st. Perhaps the most revealing portion of the article is contained when Rubin writes, "According to one lifelong friend, Artest has sought professional help for his mental health and is on prescription antidepressants.In an interview with WFAN yesterday, Greg Anthony intimated that as well. Artest recently completed court-ordered anger management counseling that resulted from a domestic abuse charge."

I would like to know why a growing number of NBA players and other sports stars are either on antidepressants, or are shameless paid promoters of them. Namely, Terry Bradshaw, former Pittsburgh Steelers great who is fast becoming more recognized as a Paxil patsy than the fact he helped bring the Pittsburgh Steelers national fame.

I can only hope Pittsburgh Steelers faithful from the past and present are looking at Terry Bradshaw with this thought in mind: "What are you doing?"

We need to look at Ron Artest with this same thought. And more. I fully understand that antidepressants are finally under scrutiny right now, but it does no one any good to try and blame "society" or "emotion" for mayhem.

Even worse, when someone like Ron Artest commits violent crimes and other pathetic outbursts, cries of being "misunderstood" start rolling in. We need to find out ASAP what his diagnosis was that warranted an antidepressant prescription. We need to find out ASAP what the name of the antidepressant is.

The problem with Ron Artest and antidepressants is crystal clear. No responsibility, no accountability, no remorse. Sports psychologists and pharmaceutical big shots enjoy lamenting that we supposedly live in a frenetic society and things - just happen. Right? Well, are we supposed to be glad help is out there?

Give me a break.

We all go through troubling times, and there is no harm in this itself. In fact, there is no harm in finding a "drug-free" counselor who can bolster you with solid life skills to work through emotional hot spots.

However, it is very sad to see both the sports world and the world of "mental health" drowning in a sea of subjective psychiatric disorders and lethal drugs. Whatever happened to self-restraint? Self-reliance? Knowing what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior?

Imagine a world where both athletes and pharmaceutical companies took responsibility for the mayhem they create. Imagine a world where both athletes and pharmaceutical companies felt remorse for their actions. Imagine a world where both athletes and pharmaceutical companies were held accountable to a tee for the destruction they cause.

It appears antidepressants and anger management have done nothing for Ron Artest. Antidepressants and anger management have done far more harm than good for the rest of us as well. It is time for Ron Artest to walk away from the NBA before he kills himself or others. Maybe he can put together a support group with the likes of Terry Bradshaw and Ricky Williams. Or rap with him on his next album.

What a scary thought.

Zizza is a freelance writer based in the Atlanta area. He serves as Vice President of Parents For Label and Drug Free Education in the state of Georgia. Email comments to him at: tz777@yahoo.com

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