“Can I trade you half of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich for your chocolate chip cookie?”
Prior to starting elementary school our best buddies live in our neighborhood. We form new friendships through games of hide ‘n’ seek, racing bikes and sharing favorite mud pie recipes. After entering school we progress to making connections in class or through shared after-school activities. Through our high school and college years we become more discerning, selecting friends based on purposeful experiences and values. Finally, in early adulthood, our work and hobby networks may define the company we keep.
As we have children of our own we come full circle. We have adult friends who are our neighbors and perhaps even “seasonal friends” – the ones who we sit next to in the school auditorium or bleachers.
It seems that some of our most treasured relationships might be based on random occurrences: right place, right time. Yet, they mean so much more. Great friends make us feel calmer and happier and even make uneven trades of sandwiches for cookies.
We’ve devoted blog space over the years to the physiological need to get our “friendship high” from the hormone oxytocin. It has been proven in medical studies from institutions ranging from UCLA to Harvard: the more oxytocin is released, the better we feel.
Since it is in our best health interest to increase the production of oxytocin in our brain, what is the relationship to prescription drugs? If you know anyone who had surgery lately, the “go to” drug is oxycodone. It is used to relieve pain from injuries, arthritis, cancer and other conditions. Some common variations are Percodan (oxycodone and aspirin) and Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen). It is also widely abused.
It makes me wonder why doctors don’t prescribe oxytocin along with the narcotics. Imagine walking away from a medical procedure with the following notation, “Take one oxycodone, one ibuprofen and see one friend every 4 hours.”
I experimented with this dosage in the last 6 months. While my two-person-trial would never qualify for the New England Journal of Medicine, I swear it works. I am going on record: next time you are ill for any reason, try this easy remedy. However, this restorative elixir does come with one known side effect, you may become addicted to your friends.
Carol Lewis Gullstad
September 9, 2013 firstname.lastname@example.org