So we finally reached the disaster that was the Analgesic Scare of 1975 in history class last week. One instance of someone poisoning over the counter painkillers early in 1975, while having tragic results, sure had a huge effect on the public’s fears about pain relievers. This is especially noticeable in comparison reaction to the similar 1982 event in Chicago. I mean, there was no scientific evidence that the medications themselves were harmful, but people still avoided them as if they had caused it. Nine months of declining sales lead to someone finally offering that new “all-natural” product you are well aware of, which quickly because the leading painkiller in this country. It then took the government three years to notice that a large percentage of the infants being born had speech delays and banned the substance that caused it. Then everyone went back to regular pain relievers and since then they are all perfectly fine the way it was before some people decided they needed to be changed for no good reason.
Everyone was assured this new substance was “safe” because it was all-natural, although that didn’t stop people from not taking medication that has the same active ingredient that is found in all-natural willow bark. But the new reliever caught on because it was extremely effective and didn’t seem to cause any side effects. But even if didn’t feel any different, it permanently changed various reproductive processes enough that the effects were passed down to their offspring. People didn’t notice at first; even if a child low-functioning you won’t know for a while if there’s a speech delay. And it took until a whole lot of them before a pattern emerged, and a longer period before they figured out what the cause was. By that point most people had gotten pain from arthritis or headaches or some other ailment and had taken the new reliever to help them. It was long after that that people figured out it affected all the children of people who had taken it at the time; it just affected us each differently.
So once the truth came out the birth rate plummeted. I mean, human biological urges, birth control failures rates, and the stigma of abortion being what they are babies were still being born, but there were much fewer and very few were planned pregnancies. There were few kids to fill the schools, hence the name the Missing Generation. Our history teacher showed us pictures of this school’s cafeteria in the early 1980s and the early 2000s. In the first picture, the room was completely full; in the second it was over half empty. I also noticed that in the early 1980s picture the room was painted in garish colors as opposed to our current off-white walls. Those that hadn’t taken the new pain reliever during the period were still having kids, and eventually drifted into communities populated by similar people. There are still some kids like us and some kids like them in each other’s schools, like Paul for example, but that got increasingly rare as time passed after the scare. Their kids desired things that we didn’t, and it resulted in mostly homogeneous communities.