Have you ever had that feeling, after an energetic gym session, or perhaps a long walk, that you’ve earned the right to a mountainous slice of cake, or to lounge lazily in front of the telly? Psychologists call these licensing effects and a new study has documented a similar phenomenon following the simple act of taking a vitamin pill. The researchers say the finding could help explain why the explosive rise in the consumption of dietary supplements (approximately half the US population take them, according to recent data) has not led to a commensurate improvement in public health.
On average, are patients on statins less likely to improve their diet and exercise? Probably. Could the same apply to antidepressants or opiate replacement medications?
One of the key strategies in Motivational Interviewing is to try to elicit “change talk”—statements that express desire, ability, reasons and need for change. Medications can chip away at reasons and need.
Again, if a patient needs a medication, they need it. But, practitioners should be thinking about how to mitigate this unintended consequence.