I am seeing an unfortunate trend in the psychiatric survivor community: People are saying cold turkey can be a perfectly fine way to go off psychiatric drugs.
We know many people get away with cold turkey, but others injure their nervous systems severely, for months or years. You don’t know in advance what will happen. Even a taper over a month reduces the risk of injury.
What’s more, if you do get withdrawal syndrome, you’re on your own. You cannot imagine how bad it can be. There’s no real medical treatment. You can’t count on a nice doctor with a pill to save you.
We need to get together to protect each other, the way the gay community united to encourage safe sex to protect people from HIV infection.
Please help spread the word: Friends do not let friends cold turkey.
Yes, withdrawal syndrome is hell. Be safe. Do whatever you can to avoid it.
While I’m posting that concise and important message from Alto Strata, I’ll take this opportunity to repost below the withdrawal and withdrawal syndrome round-up page from Beyond Meds that has lots of compiled information that can help you withdraw from psych drugs more safely. Withdrawal always has risks. Minimize the risks by being cautious and methodical in your approach to coming off.
Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up
In the course of my work with those coming off psych meds I’ve learned that there are few people, even among critics of psychiatry that have a clue at the potential severity of psychiatric drug withdrawal syndromes. That also means there are virtually no professionals that can offer meaningful support when people encounter serious issues. We remain dependent on each other.
Other than those who’ve directly experienced protracted withdrawal or those who have lived with those who have experienced it, it simply remains under appreciated and therefore undertreated and under recognized even, as I said, among critics of psychiatry. It’s rather horrifying for those of us who find ourselves struck by such illness. While perhaps a minority, we are not an insignificant minority. I alone have had contact with 1000s of us.
The other thing to consider is that we are perhaps not even a minority because the fact is so many issues with withdrawal are not recognized at all and are instead considered and then treated as the “underlying illness,” many folks simply get sicker and sicker on meds and never even know why they’re ill. Those people never come to understand that all the multiple trials of drugs and the numerous times of coming off and on them has actually been the cause of their illness.
I’m putting together a collection of withdrawal links for the navigation menu since the drop-down menu has become rather long. I will post it as a new post and then it will be accessible permanently from the top of the blog.
Generally, prolonged withdrawal syndrome is not recognized by medicine. You will find very few doctors to diagnose it and still fewer to treat it. This is a collection of links that might help you educate yourself so that you can find more appropriate care when the time comes as well as hopefully avoiding falling ill at all. I found that being well-educated and finding doctors who respected how much effort I put into educating myself helped me. It must be said, though, that it is also a curse because for every doctor who appreciates a knowledgable patient there are likely 15 or 20 or maybe even more who feel threatened by that same patient. Still, it is a plus to know what we are doing.
I will update this page as appropriate and as I remember about older posts from the archives.
This post and it’s content really only scratches the surface of the issues we face. Still it’s a good place to start.
For much more general information on withdrawing from psychiatric drugs see here: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up
*it is potentially dangerous to come off medications without careful planning. Please be sure to be well educated before undertaking any sort of discontinuation of medications. If your MD agrees to help you do so, do not assume they know how to do it well even if they claim to have experience. They are generally not trained in discontinuation and may not know how to recognize withdrawal issues. A lot of withdrawal issues are misdiagnosed to be psychiatric problems. This is why it’s good to educate oneself and find a doctor who is willing to learn with you as your partner in care. Really all doctors should always be willing to do this as we are all individuals and need to be treated as such. See: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up
It’s become clear to me that whenever it’s possible that it’s helpful for folks who’ve not begun withdrawal and have the time to consider a carefully thought out plan to attempt to bring greater well-being to your body before starting the withdrawal. That means learning how to profoundly nourish your body/mind and spirit prior to beginning a withdrawal. For suggestions on how to go about doing that check the drop-down menus on this blog for ideas. Anything that helps you learn how to live well can be part of your plan. That plan will look different for everyone as we learn to follow our hearts and find our own unique paths in the world. Things to begin considering are diet, exercise and movement, meditation/contemplation etc. Paying attention to all these things as you do them helps too. The body will start letting us know what it needs as we learn to pay attention.
For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page.