by Peter R. Breggin, M.D.
Nothing in the field of mental health will be better and reduce more harm than encouraging withdrawal from psychiatric drugs. The time is past when the focus in mental health was on what drugs to take for what disorders. Now we need to focus on how to stop taking psychiatric drugs and to replace them with more person-centered, empathic approaches. The goal is no longer drug maintenance and stagnation; the goal is recovery and achieving well-being.
My new book, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and Families, responds to a citizen rebellion that demands, “Help us get off these drugs!” It also encourages a professional revolution among concerned therapists who want to reject the idea of enforcing “patient compliance.” It’s time for therapists–psychologists, nurses, social workers, family therapists, and counselors–to stop pushing their clients and patients to take psychiatric drugs that cause brain damage, harm the body, and shorten their patients’ lives. In Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, therapists will learn about psychiatric drugs to actively participate with patients and families in the medication decision-making process.
The book provides a new roadmap for prescribers, therapists, patients and their families that will enable patients to taper off their drugs and achieve emotional and physical recovery and well-being. At the same time, it provides an improved treatment approach for all patients regardless of whether they are taking psychiatric drugs. Prescribers of psychiatric drugs should welcome much greater participation of therapists, patients, and their families in decision-making about psychiatric drugs.
This new emphasis on patient partnership and well-being will greatly increase awareness of adverse psychiatric drug effects and facilitate patients withdrawing before the harm becomes irreparable. It will improve the prescriber’s overall satisfaction and effectiveness as a service provider.
Some therapists have told me they are afraid of being sued if they offer opinions or participate in psychiatric-drug decision making. In my extensive forensic experience, this almost never happens, and I know of no such successful suit against a therapist. Instead, the highest level of professional ethics requires the therapist to confront the risks and dangers associated with their patients’ psychiatric drugs.
There is now so much scientific evidence proving that psychiatric drugs damage the brain and overall health and lifespan, that the major concern should be “How to stop taking psychiatric drugs.” It can be dangerous and even agonizing to stop, and people need to take charge of the process and no longer let prescribers like psychiatrists, general practitioners, and pediatricians dictate to them how long they or their children need to stay on drugs.
Up to now, professionals—when agreeing to withdraw patients from drugs–have withdrawn them at their own predetermined rate and often much too abruptly. This book explains and illustrates a Person-Centered Collaborative Partnership that focuses on the patient’s feelings and needs throughout the withdrawal process. Therapists are often the first to realize that their patients are overly or unnecessarily medicated but they have been discouraged from voicing their opinions or discussing them with their clients or patients.
They have also been discouraged from participating in medication decision-making and have been urged or mandated to enforce medication compliance. This book offers a new pathway for therapists to participate in an active patient and family partnership, along with the prescriber. It begins with a review of the dangers associated with psychiatric drugs and then describes and illustrates the process of person-centered withdrawal and mental health recovery, often with the collaboration of the therapist and family.
Patients often come to me wishing to withdraw from psychiatric drugs but are terrified because their previous prescribers, if agreeing to drug withdrawal, have withdrawn them much too rapidly and without regard for their suffering in the process. Nothing is more important than the patient’s sense of control over the process and the timing of withdrawal. At a time when scientific research is demonstrating the harm from long-term drug exposure, the proposed new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) will be pushing for increasingly widespread drug prescription. The mental health field needs to reverse itself by vastly increasing emphasis on psychiatric drug withdrawal and drug-free recovery.
This model for a patient-centered collaborative team approach not only transforms drug withdrawal but mental health treatment in general with its greater emphasis on the patient partnership and well-being. Its approach transforms treatment for all mental health clients and patients. The book is especially vital for the treatment of dependent children and adults, individuals struggling from emotional crises and serious mental turmoil, the elderly, and anyone with compromised judgment and cognitive ability.
The Person-Centered Collaborative Partnership approach ushers in a new era of patient- and family-centered treatment. It offers a whole new level of drug-free recovery and enhanced well-being. The goal is no longer a drug-induced holding pattern, but genuine physical and psychological recovery and growth.
Peter R. Breggin, MD, a psychiatrist in private practice in Ithaca, New York, has been called “The Conscience of Psychiatry.” In addition to writing more than 40 scientific articles, he is the best-selling author of more than 20 books, including Talking Back to Prozac (with Ginger Breggin), Toxic Psychiatry, Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, and Medication Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide, and Crime.
He and his wife Ginger founded The Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy which holds an annual conference and provides a free e-newsletter (www. EmpathicTherapy.org). Dr. Breggin’s professional website can be found at www.breggin.com, including access to his weekly Internet radio interview show. Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and Families is available on Amazon.com and at a discount on www.breggin.com.
Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, developed Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) with a group of people with lived experience who were attending a mental health recovery workshop in 1997. She is the original author of the WRAP Red Book, as well as dozens of other WRAP books and materials. She has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to learning from people who have mental health issues; discovering the simple, safe, non-invasive ways they get well, stay well, and move forward in their lives; and then sharing what she has learned with others through keynote addresses, trainings, and the development of books, curriculums, and other resources. Now that she is retired, and that, as she intended, others are continuing to share what she has learned, she continues to learn from those who have mental health issues and those who support them. She is a frequent contributor to this site.