Janet Currie is a prescription drug safety advocate who lives and works in Victoria, BC. A researcher by profession, she initially learned the hard way about serious adverse reactions and addiction caused by psychiatric drugs after being prescribed a sleeping pill for occasional problems sleeping when travelling for work. When she expressed caution about taking the drug she was told it was safe and non-addictive. When symptoms including panic attacks, stomach pain/difficulty eating and inability to sleep more than a few hours emerged and started interfering with her ability to work and be a good parent she began the long search for a cause. Not one of the many medical specialists she visited identified Ativan as the possible reason for her deteriorating state. When she finally realized she was a benzo addict she was abruptly abandoned by her doctor and given no information on how to taper safety. Because so little information was available in 2000, she mistakenly went to a street drug detox where she was “tapered” in four days, an experience which can only be described as 24/7 torture. It took her months to recover. Since that experience she has talked with and learned from hundreds of other involuntary addicts and has researched, written or spoken about the harms associated with psychiatric drugs and how to taper off successful and safely.
Janet is co-founder of the Psychiatric Awareness Medication Group (www.psychmedaware.org), which provides information from the medical literature on the potential harms and effectiveness of psychiatric drugs, and advice on drug tapering. She frequently designs personalized benzodiazepine tapers using the Ashton protocol. She was member of Health Canada’s most senior expert advisory committee on the vigilance of prescription drugs and health products for over four years. Her interests have extended into understanding the workings of pharmaceutical companies and how they drive the “market” for the over-diagnosis of many (not just psychiatric) health problems and how they have narrowed the definition of “mental health treatment” so that it is now primarily based on pills rather than care, compassion, support, acceptance and practical help. She understands from a deeply personal level how prescription drugs can cause “mental health problems”. She also co-edits a blog on the safety and effectiveness of all prescription drugs for Pharmawatch Canada.