The Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs, written by Will Hall and published by The Icarus Project and Freedom Center five years ago, is now available in a revised edition!
This Guide can be downloaded for free on this page:
and the file can be accessed directly here:
The new second edition has expanded Resources, scores of new collaborators and Advisors, new topics, more detail on the reducing and coming off process, and additional ideas for harm reduction and staying on medications. The Guide is Creative Commons copyright BY-NC-ND, meaning you have advance permission to copy, print, link, publish and share as much as you want (a special printer ready version is here, with instructions here).
Thousands of people worldwide have used this Guide to help themselves and people they know become more empowered around medications, including coming off. Hundreds of professionals and mental health agency staff have been downloading the free guide, to fill gaps in their own knowledge and give to their clients. Now the Guide in its second edition is even better, incorporating reader feedback and new ideas.
Since being published, the Guide has been translated into Spanish, Greek, and German, was featured in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, and has been used as workshop and training curriculum. 5 years ago what seemed to many as an unspeakable topic too radical for print has proven to be wildly successful. It’s helping people around the world, in the words of the introduction, to “trust themselves more and take better care of one another.” (Read about the making of the Guide here.)
What are some of the differences with the new Second Edition?
- Expanded Resources, including vital tools such as Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic and Monica Cassani’s website Beyond Meds: Alternatives to Psychiatry
- More than twice as many Collaborators and Health Care Advisors
- Additional art and graphics
- Revised science discussion, to reflect new popular awareness of neuroplasticity, neurogenesis, and epigentics
- More comprehensive section on staying on meds and harm reduction, including a list of common tests
- Additional nutrition and holistic health advice
- New conclusion on looking to the future and redefining “normal”
- A section on “do no harm” that addresses prescriber responsibility
- New consideraton of the risks of using holistic healers
- Lots of little tweaks in accuracy and comprehensiveness (such as that some medications can’t be cut with a pill cutter, and that liquid potencies can vary by brand)
- Deeper appreciation for the placebo effect and medication response as a social construction
- New section with ideas on what to do if someone you know is overmedicated.
The second edition revision was written by primary Guide author Will Hall, but was a vast collaboration over several years gathering input and engaging in dialogue. The Thank You’s list has grown to more than 50 people: Ben Abelow, George Badillo, Amy Bookbinder, Dave Burns, Kent Bye, Mick Bysshe, Monica Cassani, Oryx Cohen, Colin, Mary Kate Connor, Laura Delano, Jacqui Dillon, Dionysia Dionysius, Marc Dinacola, Dianne Dragon, dreamer, Sascha DuBrul, Empties, Steve Fenwick, Marian B.G., Vikki Gilbert, Richard Gilluly, Rhiannon Griffith, Chaya Grossberg, Molly Hardison, Gail Hornstein, Lee Hurter, Jenna, Jonah, Julie, Marianna Kefallinou, Ed Knight, Inez Kochius, Peter Lehman, Paul Levy, Krista MacKinnon, Jacks Ashley McNamara, Tsuyoshi Matsuo, Pheepho, Suzanne Richardson, Olga Runciman, Alex Samets, Sarah Seegal, Seven, Janice Sorensen, Lauren Spiro, Bonfire Madigan Shive, Stacco, Jessica Max Stein, Terramuggus, Amy Upham, Agustina Vidal, Dorea Vierling-Claassen, and Robert Whitaker.
After the Guide was released many medication prescribers and clinicians expressed their strong support for its balanced and empowering message. The Health Care Professional Advisors list is now up to 53 doctors, nurses, acupuncturists, counselors, and even a shaman or two: Ed Altwies, David Anick, Ron Bassman, Alexander Bingham, Patrick Bracken, Christopher Camilleri, Michael Cornwall, David Cohen, Celine Cyr, Patricia Deegan, Jacqui Dillon, Kelley Eden, Neil Falk, Daniel Fisher, Mark Foster, Chris Gordon, Jen Gouvea, Mark Green, Nazlim Hagmann, Will Hall, Lee Hurter, Gianna Kali, Peter Lehmann, Bruce Levine, Bradley Lewis, Krista Mackinnon, Daniel Mackler, Rufus May, Elissa Mendenhall, Renee Mendez, Dawn Menken, Arnold Mindell, Joanna Moncrieff, Pierre Morin, Matthew Morrissey, Sharna Olfman, Catherine Penney, Maxine Radcliffe, Myriam Rahman, Lloyd Ross, Judith Schreiber, Michael Smith, Susan Smith,Claudia Sperber, Linda Star Wolf, Peter Stastny, Ted Sundlin, Philip Thomas, Krista Tricarico, Toby Watson, Charles Whitfield, and Damon Williams.
Seth Kadish and Cheryl Weigel joined as designers, and the facillitator crew at Portland Hearing Voices played an important role sustaining the work.
Thanks to everyone involved with making this possible — please download the new version here and spread it around!
and the file can be accessed directly here:
— Will Hall
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
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Appreciate this resource!
Thank God. Thank God that something like this exists.
Thank you Will and thank you to your collaborators. I have just read this once. I need to read read again another nine times before I can even begin to absorb this wisdom deep into my being. I intend to use this booklet to spread to my contacts, some of which are doctors and social workers, but I really need to understand this material myself!
I had many years of CBT training to convince me any and all suffering/disappointments in my life were due to a chronic, pernicious illness I had. That kind of “lived experience” does not disappear overnight.
I was running this morning on an eight mile loop. At 5 1/2 miles I was thinking in my head, I’m going to stop short at 7 miles. I just don’t want to finish this. I passed a fellow stranger/runner who beamed at me, and said, “You’re doing a great job today.” I immediately smiled! I decided to not listen to that inner doubt and finish my eight miles. In retrospect, I think I must have been frowning to prompt him to spontaneously give me that encouragement.
If this stranger were a hypothetical psychologist he would have said, “You can stop right here and now. Or you can keep going. Whichever you want.” I think that kind of message confuses people. Why not encourage perseverance?
This booklet offers encouragement and I salute that! (Plus,it has the added bonus it can literally save people’s lives!)
Thank you very much. I have downloaded the booklet and already know a few clients who will be getting a copy next week.
the first edition of this guide was a huge help for me in my process to go off meds when it was clear they were doing more harm than good for me. after a period of being med-free i made the choice go back on a single med, and i was able to advocate for myself with the mental health providers to only take the one med, not go back on a cocktail of pills. having a guide like this helped me trust myself and make careful decisions about how to treat the symptoms i experience. i’m looking forward to reading the new edition!
An extremely important resource for coming off medications safely.
I’m very glad to see the guidelines for reduction have been revised to “10% or less reduction of your original dose every 2-3 weeks or longer.”
I would add — perhaps in the next edition — “make a smaller reduction if you get serious withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms are nature’s way of telling you to slow down! While some may be transient, they’re signalling that your nervous system is in distress. Try to reduce in a way to minimize stress on your nervous system — it’s the only one you’ll ever have.”