Some Veterans Rebelling Against Pills


In the wake of the recent study that found the US Veterans Administration had no consolidated evidence that its psychiatric programs are actually helping people, NPR interviewed veterans who are starting to rebel against their doctors and refuse medications. NPR reports that 1 in 3 veterans polled say they are on 10 different medications. “The medications — I hate all the medications,” veteran Rachel Stokes told NPR. “If the scientist actually went through and did research, and then really found out what really worked, then that’s different. But it doesn’t seem like they’re doing that.”

Veteran Leo Kalberg told NPR that, before quitting them, his medication list included escitalopram, Prozac, Klonopin, morphine, Percocet, Vicodin, tramadol, Motrin, cortisone, lidocaine and Seroquel. “I’d take all my medication, and I’d sit down, and a whole entire day would pass, and I would just get up and go to bed,” Karlberg said.

Veterans Kick The Prescription Pill Habit, Against Doctors’ Orders (NPR Health Shots, July 11, 2014)


  1. Here is another constituency that could be won for the psychiatric survivors movement, one that would give us a lot of political clout since because veterans tend to be conservative, what they say has a lot of influence in Republican circles and could counteract the propaganda by Tim Murphy and the like.

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    • This has been happening to people who aren’t veterans but no one paid attention because you can’t trust them folks with an “MI” label. Not that I wish this on anyone but as CS rightfully implies, this will help our cause if veterans join in because they have credibility due to their service.

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  2. I want to urge any veteran or anyone else who is considering stopping their drugs to be cautious about how you do so. Many psychoactive drugs and pain killers need to be tapered and there are many good tapering plans available on sites like surviving . Also Dr. Peter Breggin has a guide to tapering off of drugs in his latest book, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal.

    It’s better if you can work with an empathetic doctor, psychologist or nurse, but not all medical types will help someone get off of psych meds. The ones I approached for help wanted me to stay on them because they don’t like to go against a fellow doctor. Don’t let that stop you.

    I had to do it on my own and it was tough but it can be done.

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  3. I have posted this in the past, but perhaps the recent disclosures of VA impropriety will make it more relevant and believable.

    I am a US Navy veteran of the Vietnam Conflict. In the 1970s, before the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was developed, I was diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder by Veterans Affairs psychiatrists. After eight years of unsuccessful treatment with psychiatric drugs which severely damaged me both physically and emotionally to the point of suicidal ideation, I was extremely fortunate to recover completely within a few months. I had learned about Orthomolecular Therapy based on tissue mineral analysis of a hair sample and Creative Psychology through my own research and in 1982 was able to obtain a source of these treatments independent from the VA and at my own expense.

    My VA psychiatrist, who later rose to the presidency of the American Psychiatric Association, refused to acknowledge my use of Orthomolecular Therapy, the hair test results, or Creative Psychology and termed my recovery a “spontaneous remission”. From 1982 to 2007, I lived a healthy, productive life, free of not only psychiatric drugs, but all other prescription medicines as well.

    In 2007, concerned about the suicide rate of veterans diagnosed with PTSD, I began to attend a PTSD group at a VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinic. After only a few meetings where I shared my story with other veterans, I was taken aside by a VA psychologist and psychiatrist and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in a twenty minute interview and banned from further participation in the PTSD group.

    When this new diagnosis affected the renewal of my life insurance policy, I requested the medical records of my recovery in the 1980s. I discovered that all such mental health records in DVA VISN 1, in the 1978 to 1990 time period, had been spoliated. No records remain. I am convinced that thousands of veterans could have made recoveries similar to mine, with thousands of lives saved, had VA psychiatrists run studies on Orthomolecular Therapy and Creative Psychology instead of destroying all evidence of a veteran’s drug-free recovery. I have recently been examined and tested by well-qualified civilian forensic psychiatrists, who find in me no evidence of any mental illness.

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