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Online support for psychiatric drug withdrawal
Support is vitally important in the process of withdrawal. Often one of the best places for information and support is online as there are rarely people in our lives who truly understand what we are undertaking. It’s important to have people supporting you at home too and ultimately better if you can manage that. The best case scenario is to have both, along with professionals that also support you. I never found professionals who really knew what to do, but I did find wonderful people who cooperated with me and learned with me about the whole process. That is often the best one can do. It’s critical that the professionals you work with are willing to listen to your particular experience.
In preparing to withdraw diet and nutrition is very important. A good multi-vitamin, minerals, magnesium, vitamin C and fish oil is a good place to start. Other supplements may be helpful as well and often finding what you need is a research project–if one is lucky they may find a good alternative health care provider, but that is often hard to find. I’ve found most of my care online with very careful research.
See also: Drug withdrawal and emotional recovery - By John Breeding
Some online support groups are listed here (I am no longer involved with these groups and cannot speak to the quality of the support or information in general at this time save Surviving Antidepressants which is one of the best boards I’ve ever come across):
- Surviving Antidepressants (information and help available for all classes of psych drugs)
- Recovery Road - benzodiazpines
- Alt Therapies for Bipolar
- Alternative to Meds (Safe Harbor)
- Med Free or Working on It
- Paxil Progress (SSRI withdrawal forum)
Many support groups are dogmatically opposed to all supplementation. This is probably because once in withdrawal many people react to and develop sensitivities to many things, including foods and natural things. (see here for a detailed explanation — Multiple drug sensitivity (the outcome of grossly over-prescribed medications)
What I’ve observed is that if one starts a carefully thought out program of supplementation BEFORE they get sick from withdrawal it goes a long way in supporting good health. In fact, if one is able the best thing to do is clean up diet and nutrition before one starts withdrawing. In these cases it seems less reactivity to supplements, food etc happens, at least some of the time, but not always. One must be aware of developing sensitivities as they can cause problems. “Vacations” from supplements are a good idea from time to time.
If you’ve already begun to withdraw it’s important to be VERY careful when adding supplements as people can certainly react to all sorts of things. Getting professional help or help from others who have done this is really quite necessary if you’ve not used supplements before. Caution is always warranted. The flip side of this is there are people who recommend supplements for mental health concerns that can be very risky especially during withdrawal. It’s very common for alternative doctors to do this prescribing sometimes. One must learn adequate discrimination as most of these doctors have never seen someone in acute withdrawal.
I’ve found that all support groups and forums have their own particular culture and dogma. Please use your own best judgment. The most important thing to remember is that you are an individual and withdrawal manifests differently for everyone.
There are many more online groups and boards if you do a google search. There are also lots of videos on youtube that have been made by people coping with withdrawal.
It’s best to join several groups and learn all you can from as many sources as possible since the dogma in each group sometimes precludes good sense and you may find what you need elsewhere. This is especially important if you are on multiple drugs as groups that specialize with one class of drug are generally quite unknowledgeable about the other classes.
The single drug boards have a strength in that they have a very large collective knowledge. (Benzo and SSRI boards) Boards that deal with all drugs often have much less collective knowledge about safe withdrawal, so it’s actually quite helpful to join the single drug boards even if you’re on multiple meds. Most of the best withdrawal tips are applicable to all the psych drugs.
Also be aware that the benzo and/or SSRI boards in general know very little about the particular risks and dangers of other drugs one may be on along with the drug that group concentrates on and in fact often give very bad information regarding other drugs and their use. This is a generalization but it pays to be aware of a lack of knowledge and experience by people who sometimes act as if they know more than they do. Multiple drug situations get extremely complicated and most benzo folks think it’s benzos are always at fault when speaking about withdrawal issues when it may or may not be true in any individual situation.
One benzo board made it explicit to me that I was NOT ALLOWED to talk about other drugs at all after I gave some information to someone who had started a thread about antidepressants. The information I gave was limited to responding to a direct inquiry about a particular documented risk involved in taking antidepressants. This silence about another class of drugs in a benzo forum is a dangerous precedent to set and so if you have any other drugs involved in your taper I would recommend going somewhere you can freely talk about all of them.
The same thing happens on antidepressant withdrawal boards where people are routinely on benzos and no one realizes how dangerous the benzos are. Just be aware all the psychotropics have serious issues as well as withdrawal problems. That some people sometimes choose to take other drugs to mitigate withdrawal from a drug is fine…it is their right to do so, but if information is withheld about the risks involved in doing so how is the board different than a psychiatrist saying everything will be fine while they feed us benzos.
As always informed choice is what is missing. Once the information is available people should have the right to make whatever decision is right for them.
UPDATE: The above problems with single drug boards was written a few years ago. These issues remain unfortunately see here: I’ve been banned from Benzo Buddies (benzodiazepine withdrawal forum)
This is provided so that you might be aware that ultimately you need to vet your information and not take anything at face value. I’m sorry it’s complicated sometimes.
And for my own brief description on what I’ve learned about withdrawal and what I did for the most part see here.
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