Someone asked me yesterday had I cold-turkeyed off the cocktail I was on and was that why I got so sick. I decided to share my response because it’s a question I get a whole lot. There is no way we can be sure who will be impacted by protracted psychiatric drug withdrawal issues, but some things certainly don’t help. My history didn’t help me at all. I took thirty-nine different drugs by the time I came off of the six drug cocktail when I began my withdrawal. My history pretty much guaranteed a fried nervous system. It is generally true that going off cold-turkey is dangerous (with some rare exceptions) and that going off slowly is a much wiser and safer thing to do. In instances like mine, though, unfortunately, it may not alter the final outcome. I still recommend going slowly. I do think it could have been even worse had I not. I am not writing this to suggest those of us on such cocktails throw caution to the wind. I think we need to be even more cautious, in fact. In any case, the nervous system takes a long time to heal, but I am, indeed finding that it is healing. And it’s healing in truly beautiful ways. I am grateful for my amazing resilient body/mind/spirit.
This is the answer I gave to the person who asked me if I’d cold-turkeyed off the drugs.
MEDICATION MERRY-GO-ROUNDS are essentially multiple cold turkeys….
I took 6 years to come off 6 drugs…I was on them for 2 decades. Anyone on drugs for that long have had multiple cold-turkeys because that is how psychiatrists switch folks from drug to drug… if we were heavy users of psych meds our nervous systems are all fried by the time we come off…that’s another under appreciated fact…med merry-go-rounds are like multiple cold turkeys…
yeah, not a nice thing to contemplate, but that’s what it’s like…
*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. See: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up
The aftermath of polypsychopharmacology: my story on Dr. David Healy’s site –this is the most complete short synopsis of having been grossly over-drugged and my path to drug freedom.
And a mini memoir at Mad in America: Everything Matters: a Memoir From Before, During and After Psychiatric Drugs
The above two pieces can serve as a mini history of my personal journey in and away from the psychiatric system. Since then things continue to get better. See: the IT GETS BETTER series.