The Cocktail Party

Alesandra Rain
71
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As a prescription drug and addiction expert for The O’Reilly Factor, Fox National News and many other news outlets, I am often called when a celebrity death occurs. While the loss of a talented actor or musician is tragic, I know from personal experience that the magnitude of devastation from legal drugs is happening to millions of innocent people – through psychoactive medications.

The use of psychiatric medications is at epidemic proportions within all age groups. Sleeping Pills, Benzodiazepines, Antidepressants, and Antipsychotics are prescribed for every symptom imaginable and while the pharmaceutical companies state in their product information that a ‘discontinuation syndrome’ and ‘withdrawal’ can occur, I don’t think anyone is prepared for the horrific symptoms many of us face while trying to escape these drugs. I know first hand how dangerous they are.

“I Can’t Sleep”

Three words spoken to my doctor began a horrifying decade of psychoactive pills. As I reached tolerance, the dosages were increased and additional medications added. After ten years my health declined horribly and, desperate to regain my life, I went to a treatment center and endured a cold-turkey withdrawal from Klonopin, Temazepam, Effexor, Sinequan, Ambien, Painkillers and Muscle Relaxers. To say I experienced ‘withdrawals’ is an understatement. My world shattered and I thought I was losing my mind. Never could I have been prepared for the intensity of withdrawals and each day I survived was an accomplishment. It was many months before I surfaced out of the nightmare and even longer before I began healing.

Unfortunately the vast majority of people have no idea how any behavioral drug works or the potential repercussion of becoming dependent, and that was certainly the case for me. There was never a discussion with my psychiatrist of stopping the treatment and in fact there never was an exit strategy. I was not tested for vitamin deficiencies or other organic causes for my symptoms and it was years before mercury toxicity, anemia, low Vitamin D, B12, Folate and B6 were identified. Individually any one of these could have caused my insomnia.

I firmly believe that there should be an exit strategy and going cold-turkey as I did is not the answer – too many have tried only to reinstate and feel defeated. And for countless more, even a painfully slow taper from benzodiazepines is not enough to control the crushing symptoms. And while I am not anti-medication, I do feel that all medications, specifically psychoactive, are over-prescribed. We are now in a time when every generation is heavily drugged: what a frightening fact.

Benzodiazepines and Sleeping Pills work on GABA (gamma-aminobutryic acid), the most prevalent receptor in the central nervous system. GABA is the great filter of the human body, calming and controlling the action of epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine, preventing stress-related messages from reaching the brain. Benzodiazepines initially enhance GABA, creating a sense of calm, but with continued use (even short-term) the soothing effect of GABA is diminished and the excitatory neurotransmitter activity increases. Benzodiazepines increase pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia, muscle tightness, and alter how we view and engage the world. The systemic effect from benzodiazepine addiction affects every system of the body and can interfere with all activities of daily living.

While Sleeping Pills are considered “Non-Benzodiazepines,” they have the same side effect and withdrawal profile as Benzodiazepines and are known to worsen sleep issues with continued use. I consider Sleeping Pills just as dangerous as Benzodiazepines.

Antidepressants encompass many different formulations and primarily work on Serotonin, critical to the transmission of nerve impulses. Serotonin is also found in the pineal gland (responsible for melatonin production), blood platelets, digestive tract and brain. 95% of the body’s Serotonin is produced in the gut region. Continually high levels of Serotonin causes the stress hormones Cortisol and Adrenaline to be triggered by the adrenal glands causing issues of Adrenal Fatigue in many patients.

Antipsychotics are among the most profitable drugs in the United States and exert their effect on Dopamine, the neurotransmitter that relates to the sensation of pleasure. Dopamine also regulates virtually all bodily functions, including heartbeat, breathing, eye movement and is also critical for glucose control. Antipsychotics can cause tardive dyskinesia, an involuntary movement disorder that can be permanent, as well as being linked to extreme weight gain that leads to diabetes.

Psychoactive drugs – by their very classification – affect the mind, and they differ from any other medication in how they cross the blood-brain barrier and primarily act upon the central nervous system; altering thoughts, perception, consciousness, mood, cognition and behavior. It’s no wonder that coming off of them can cause such systemic pain.

Individual psychiatric drugs can have serious side effects and withdrawal symptoms, and in combination with other psychoactive or other classes of medications can threaten respiratory and cardiac function in a lethal way. Polypharmacy, or the use of multiple medications, is a common occurrence and too often a combination of drugs can cause additional side effects that are then treated with more drugs. It’s a vicious and dangerous cycle. I was on stomach medications, blood pressure meds, muscle relaxers, and painkillers, and with each specialist a new drug was added. Today I take no medications and all the pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia and other symptoms I suffered for years is gone. I’ve had 34 surgeries on my spine, legs and shoulder (from an auto accident), so for me to live drug-free is truly miraculous.

After regaining my life I could not turn from this issue and I’ve spent the last ten years helping the public withdraw from addictive pills with proper nutrition and supplementation to ease symptoms, in conjunction with a slow taper that allows the receptors time to readjust between reductions. Benzodiazepines require the slowest taper, with the taper for sleeping pills close in duration. Antidepressants can sometimes be withdrawn more rapidly but this depends on many factors including length of time on the drug, interactions with other medications and health challenges.

While I’m horrified at how medicine is being practiced today, and the way the pharmaceutical companies have created blockbuster drugs that target every possible life circumstance – that psychiatry then uses to promote this concept – I also know the general public must want more. We are culpable on this issue as we are too willing to accept a quick fix. I didn’t put any effort into a good diet, exercise or seeking an answer to my symptoms. I took the pills and wanted to sleep immediately. Then the true horror began as my body became dependent. I paid the price for allowing so many medications into my body and it took tremendous dedication to regain my health and life. Maintaining good health is easy.

I have worked with people in every corner of the globe, and while many want their lives back and are willing to devote time and energy to making the necessary changes to heal, far too many resist healthier options. The advent of processed foods and fake drinks has created another type of addict and this mentality is destroying lives − yet many resist change. In order to regain our lives from psychoactive drugs it takes a willingness to eat better, exercise and slowly taper. Tapering alone is not enough to regain good health and I’ve met too many physicians that are frustrated with their patients, as too many want only pills.

So while it’s easy to blame psychiatry, physicians and the drug companies, as consumers we dictate what stays on the market. The more we refuse psychoactive medications, the less they will be produced. As consumers we have the ultimate power and we have forgotten that our health is also our responsibility. I spent years in a state of decline, and without the willingness and dedication to return to life it wouldn’t have happened. Getting off the addictive medications was but one step in a long process.

We’ve been fooled into believing that a quick fix substitutes for good health. We must be willing to devote time to healing. I lost ten years to a cocktail of psychoactive medications, and I was prepared to spend the same amount of time regaining my life. It took only a fraction of that time and each improvement drove me to continue the healing journey.

It is my hope that more will be willing to take charge of their lives and health. The end result is worth it. I’m living proof.

71 COMMENTS

  1. Alesandra,

    Welcome to Mad In America. Nothing to disagree with what you say, particularly

    ” as consumers we dictate what stays on the market”

    I have made that same argument a few times 🙂 .

    I have a question for you. Feel free to say “I don’t know, I don’t want to answer”. I am an avid watcher of The O’Reilly Factor and Fox News. While some anchors have used the “commit the mentally ill” line a few times, I am also pleasantly surprised that many have rejected it, including

    – Bill O’Reilly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfUv3MU0WLo

    – Dana Perino here (minute 8) http://video.foxnews.com/v/2680571197001/should-the-media-change-the-way-mass-shootings-are-covered/

    After hearing these strong views, I hypothesize that somebody higher up at Fox or Bill and Dana themselves must know something about the cruelty of the mental health system but too embarrassed to talk openly about it.

    My personal experience is that those who have strong opinions about so called “mental health” (one way or another) is because they have experience with the system. Most people do not care. Can you comment on this?

    • Hmm. I listened to the Bill O’Reilly piece, and here’s what I got out of it. What I think he is actually doing is siding with the gun lobby by playing up the USA as almost the only country in the world of freedom and then giving a pass to mass murder by implying that freedom is messy and that mentally ill people will occasionally make it messier. He refers to Lopez as evil, which doesn’t strike me that he has much personal experience with “the mentally ill.” For people who like to keep it simple (and you are not one of these people Cannotsay), just wave the flag a little or a lot, utter words like “freedom,” “we have the greatest country in the world” and “guns don’t kill people, evil people kill people,” and the public goes back to sleep for another few decades while mass murder rages on to an extent not seen in other countries. I’ve only heard about Bill O’Reilly, I’ve don’t recall listening to him, but hearing him now, I almost wanted to believe him. He’s a real spellbinder.

      • Rossa,

        Actually no. Bill O’Reilly has repeatedly rejected calls to lower the standard of civil commitment when his guests, some as influential and insisting as Charles Krauthammer, who happens to be a psychiatrist, bring the topic . That video was just an example, but I have seen him saying exactly the same thing regardless of the issue of guns.

      • I mean, he has some points (and I rarely agree with this guy). Mainly – there is no way to prevent every heinous act of violence in the society, no matter how much control you’ll put over people and also the more you try to do that, the more the system becomes abusive and people lose their freedom. In fact I think there has to be a balance. I am for gun control – I see no point why so many people should have guns at home and a gun is not a basic need – there is enough evidence from most developed countries that this reduces mass shootings. Clearly O’Reilly is not OK with that.
        What I find most annoying about the whole piece however is this constant equaling of “mental illness” with violence which has been shown to be basically scapegoating.

    • Absolutely many at Fox, at least in the NY office knows the danger of psychoactive medication. And many have a personal story, if not for themselves then certainly for someone close to them… it is my hope that they will cover the true story about these horrible drugs and the lives that are destroyed from taking them. But most often I am called for celebrity deaths, yet Bill O’Reilly took on a very controversial topic with the Fort Hood shooter who was on Ambien and other meds and he was very outspoken. You can see the interview at this link: http://www.pointofreturn.com/press.html

      While many in the press will shy away from this issue, I was extremely impressed with O’Reilly’s willingness to state clearly his views.

      Thank you for the welcome.

  2. Very informative and timely. Thank you for sharing your “cocktail party” story. 🙂 I am also drug free and have experienced cold turkey withdrawal.

    Strangely I just noticed this local news article about a judge who dismissed charges against a man who was involved in a shootout with the police, on the grounds of Unisom intoxication. Unisom is a common over the counter sleeping pill. (Or possibly it had something to do with him being a local attorney, but anyway…) http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140722/GZ01/140729759

  3. Thank you for such a concise summary of the extreme overuse of psychoactive drugs in today’s society. Hopefully, people will listen and begin to realize that our current corporately controlled (profit driven) medicine, science and media are not to be trusted. Even our governmental institutions such as the FDA and Congress which are supposed to represent us and protect us from harmful self interests have let these profit driven entities compromise our democracy which is designed to be by and for the people. We must hold our elected officials accountable and demand a change in corporate law so that these amoral corporations no longer have the rights of people. Overturning Citizen’s United is a place to begin…

    In the meantime, we should take your advice and look for the simple truths about negotiating life’s ups and downs such as good self care and supportive connections to others rather than looking to pills for every discomfort.

  4. “I Can’t Sleep” Three words spoken to my doctor began a horrifying decade of psychoactive pills.

    The next words were “insomnia is a symptom of depression”.

    It kind of went like this, A satirical view of our prescription drug culture by David Antonuccio
    and Bill Danton. http://youtu.be/2UnJ4H8JLmM

    I can’t sleep turned into Depression , Anxiety, ADHD, Bipolar as these pills were piled on. It trashed a decade of my life.

    • Copy Cat and others: When I was involuntarily committed in 1989 and 1990, the use of these drugs were mostly limited to the “severely mentally I’ll.” Now, they have exploded across all spectrums of society. In my travels, it seems that many people are distrustful of ADHD medications, maybe a little more accepting of other medications. So it is interesting that someone from the mainstream media, (I think that given the large viewership of Fox that this term accurately applies to Fox, no mater what one’ opinion of Fox might be), is taking a critical view of the proliferation of these drugs throughout all strata of our society.
      Unfortunately, at the present time, Congress seems only interested in the story of the mentally ill as it relates to protecting the public from the mentally ill. The first congressional hearings in years on the topic of the mentally ill was held in response to Newtown. Compromise gun control legislation, pursued by Senator Manchin (WV), rests on the logic of the soundness of the findings of mental hygiene courts, buttressed by the mainstreaming of psychiatric dogma. In the House, Congressman Murphy is trying to expand the reach of assisted out patient commitment laws. So we have a doubling of the effort to protect the public from the “severely mentally ill,” just as psychiatric medication has been mainstreamed throughout our society.
      Given that Insel and Frances have cast doubt on the scientific underpinnings of psychiatry from within the upper strata of the profession, it would seem to be an appropriate time for a congressional investigation into the ever growing reach of psychiatry.
      If this could be brought to fruition, it would be incumbant upon MIA contributors and their allies to broaden the critique of psychiatry.

      • Actually, the Senate is having a hearing about the medical profession being the third leading cause of death in the U.S. right now, and the misuse of psyche drugs could be very relevant to that gathering.

        At this link, everyone on the committee is listed by state and rank. Anyone who is represented by these Senators might want to send them information about harmful medications.

  5. I like the alcohol analogy here.

    The best way to avoid a hangover is to stay drunk.

    This brings me to a term I was introduced to by mental health workers, “tweaking”. The idea that you just need to get the mix right.

    Beer till 5, then alternate between beer and bourbon. Vodka for breakfast.

    No, my drinking isnt out of control, I just need to get the mix right.

    Of course its a trap that is difficult to get out of, and an alcoholic is someone who drinks more than you. And the bartender psychiatrists have a solution, let me pour you another lol.

    Up to you to take control, and leave the bar for good.

  6. Welcome, and thank you for sharing your story, Alasandra. I agree, there are “quick fix” believers and drug seekers in this world. But the massive pharmaceutical advertising campaigns, symptom management philosophy and off label prescribing by doctors is fueling this fire.

    And there are actually some of us here who were coerced and forced to take drugs, due to the greed, lack of ethics, and / or ignorance of doctors, teachers, or parents. Of that group, the doctors are the ones who claim to be the “experts,” and took an oath to “first and foremost, do no harm.”

    “The more we refuse psychoactive drugs, the less they will be produced,” but only in a truly competitive market, and one with no forced or coerced treatment. Therein lie our societal problems, “to big to fail” results in the opposite of a competitive market. And disingenuous claims of “real” diseases and proven “chemical imbalances” used to defraud people into starting on drugs, and forced treatment, need to end.

    My story, I had an easily recognized iatrogenic artifact (“bad fix” on a broken bone), covered up with a complex iatrogenic artifact (a mandated bad drug cocktail). The common ADRs and withdrawal symptoms of these were then misdiagnosed as the “life long incurable genetic” “bipolar” (no family history, though). This resulted in a whole bunch of mandated major drug interaction laden cocktails, controversial iatrogenesis, to cover up all the prior medical “mistakes.” And I’ve been told this is the historic “dirty little secret” way for doctors to cover up their mistakes. There is, and apparently historically always has been, a lack of ethics problem amongst the mainstream medical community. Blame the patient works some of the time, but not all of the time.

        • Liisa and E Silly,

          I would say you two are in cahoots to promote psychiatry’s usual smear campaign against any would be critics by claiming they are Scientologists or associated with them.

          You both remind me of little boys in grade school who ran away from girls because they seemingly had cooties, but your slander and stalking is far more serious and menacing!

          And I find the bogus list on another web site of MIA members who supposedly support Scientology very suspicious since it coincides with the two of you joining MIA and making life hell for everyone else with your Scientology witch hunts!

          I have stated many times on MIA that I have a Christian background, which makes me admire the CCHR arm of Scientology dedicated to exposing the truth about the huge harm done by Big Pharma, psychiatry and corrupt politicians.

          Your actions have been very transparent as to your real goals here.

          • That’s an interesting, and empowering, view!

            If Liisa and E Silly are indeed some sort of AstroTurf infiltrated in MIA to throw Scientology smears, it would seem that some people in the pro psychiatry quarters are beginning to be scared of MIA.

            The more, the better! Among other things because what they say is pretty ridiculous stuff.

          • cannotsay2013, I have to disappoint you. I’m not on the dark side of psychiatry. If you don’t believe me, challenge me. Tell me a psychiatric lie and I do my best do debunk it.

          • Astor Turf, aka E Silly,

            As you can see, I have also changed my display name, dropping the 2013 because it was getting a bit old.

            You claim not to be AstroTurf although your recent display name change suggests otherwise. Well, let me answer your challenge with another challenge: what are you up to, really?

            I mean, looking at your comment history it seems your expertise is to either throw platitudes or Scientology smears.

            If I were big pharma AstroTurf , and I am not saying that you are, I would follow a similar strategy. Throw a couple of platitudes here and there to gain the trust of the MIA community and then, on important matters, throw something, like the Scientology smear, with the sole objective of dividing the community.

            As you said in a previous comment with respect to Scientology,

            “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”

            It is time to apply the same test to you, Astor Turf 🙂 .

          • I already told you were I am standing, but you seem not to be interested in getting a more accurate picture.

            So it all boils down to:

            People who are opposed to Scientology’s CCHR are APA/Big Pharma trolls?

            People who are opposed to the Church of Psychiatry are Scientology trolls?

            at least these are the accusations from both sides.

            I wonder if the antipsychiatry movement is doomed. Maybe I’m getting my first paranoid psychotic episode, but CCHR seems to be involved everywhere (in the US (okay, not really everywhere (but much too often))). It’s no wonder people don’t take us seriously and think we are this weirdo group who drank the kool-aid.

            It’s time to emancipate from CCHR.

            I know, my comment will be moderated down or there comes another attack. Whatever.

            But to be clear: PSYCHIATRY KILLS.

          • Your answer leaves even more questions. What did I just say about throwing cliches. Psychiatry kills, really? Tell me something new!!

            From where I stand you seem either some sort of big pharma / pro psychiatry AstroTurf or one of those Scientology bashers trying to open new ground in a community, MIA, which doesn’t care much about Scientology except when some of us cheer CCHR when they hit psychiatry in some way.

            I don’t find any of those two agendas particularly appealing so I will stop engaging you in the future. Good luck with whatever you are up to!

        • Absolutely nothing. I am just highlighting how ridiculous your smear is.

          Loren Mosher is listed here as well https://web.archive.org/web/20041215235203/http://www.labelmesane.com/links/organizations.htm together with other well known critics of the biological model, and psychiatry in general, like MindFreedom (its founder David Oaks is who inspired Bob Whitaker to look deeper into psychiatry). MindFreedom has gone long ways to explain that it is not affiliated with Scientology because guess what, many like you throw the Scientology smear to any critic of psychiatry.

          So what if the old page listed some references to CCHR. It is very obvious that it listed many references to people/organizations who/which are critics of psychiatric drugging.

          While the most recent version does not list any Scientology affiliated website, it is obvious that the old version included references to CCHR as it included references to other non Scientology affiliated websites or persons like Loren Mosher. To extrapolate that http://www.pointofreturn.com/ is affiliated with Scientology is, well, as smear.

          Again, so “you”, that it is not surprising. You keep thinking that throwing the Scientology smear comes from some sort of enlightened point of view when in reality a simple analysis of the references listed makes anybody conclude that the old website was just listing organizations/people that criticize psychiatric drugging.

  7. Alesandra, thank you for sharing your story, and for what you’re doing to help others.

    “Polypharmacy, or the use of multiple medications, is a common occurrence and too often a combination of drugs can cause additional side effects that are then treated with more drugs. It’s a vicious and dangerous cycle.”

    I agree this is one of the key problems. I almost lost my daughter to polypharmacy, and last year I lost my best friend to a bad combination of prescription drugs, including psychotropics (he was 34 years old). I think of him every time I hear a similar celebrity story. It makes me wonder how many non-celebrity deaths due to polypharmacy there are to every celebrity death.

    As I have pondered what I could have done to prevent my friends death (I am a health coach, after all!), I have realized to your final point that people have to want to do the work to be well. They’ve got to find the time to move their bodies and eat real, nutritious food. (And manage their stress and have social connections, etc.)

    I think our real hope as a society is to encourage kids to take care of their bodies and their minds and their spirits and hope that eventually, we will see a cultural shift away from medication and mental distress toward healthy lifestyles and mental health.

    • Dear tabitagreen
      I’m sorry to hear about your friend.
      I picked up one of the major Labels in 1980, and ended up on long acting injection medication. I was able to withdraw from this in 1984.
      There are lots of recovery paths, but Buddhism alone has enough resources in it, to get someone like me better.
      I believe all the help a person needs to make full recovery can be found outside of psychiatry.

  8. “Three words spoken to my doctor began a horrifying decade of psychoactive pills. As I reached tolerance, the dosages were increased and additional medications added.”

    Oh my that is how I stared my psychiatric drug journey”” I was having an awful time sleeping because of a serious car accident and as the poly drugging blurred my mind the higher doses went out of control. I was sleeping alright, 15-18 hours day or more. Numerous specialty doctor visits, medical testing and even more prescription drugs for my many perplexing physical symptoms when it was the psych drugs causing them. I was on a dangerous merry go round not knowing how to get off.

    I’m completely psych drug free (ten years) and glad you are too. Iit was hard journey but we did it.

    • Is what true? Is it true that the MIA bloggers and commenters who someone has put on a Tumblr list are “friends of Scientology” – whatever that means – because some random person says they are? Well, it’s impossible to say, because the author of the Tumblr page has not included much evidence.

      In the case of the commenters listed, the only thing included for each is a link to their collected MIA comments. I have read most or all of the comments of several of those people and I have never seen anything to indicate a connection between those individuals and Scientology. The one common element I have noticed between the commenters listed there is that they consistently resist being baited into changing the subject from psychiatry to Scientology.

      This Tumblr page you’ve linked to gives me the creeps.

      • Can you link that page for the rest of us? Gee, I am curious to know if I am there. The notion that I am a “friend of Scientology”, in the proselytizing sense, is ridiculous. Apparently some people never got over binary thinking despite the numerous examples in which the mindset “if you are not my friend you are my enemy” has gone terribly wrong.

        Some people hate Scientology, I get that. But the notion that hating Scientology comes from some sort of enlightened mindset and that not hating Scientology is the same as evangelizing for Scientology is ridiculous.

        Within Christianity, many have made similar arguments as to why their own denomination is “the right one”, and everybody else who claims to be a Christian is practicing a false faith.

        • Yes, you were on the list, cannotsay. As with the other MIA commenters on it, there was only your MIA username that was hyperlinked to the MIA page with your collected comments.

          (For the handful of MIA bloggers who were on it, there were one to several links each, one of which was a CCHR award or something. There wasn’t anything that looked to me remotely like evidence of Scientology influence on MIA, so I can see why the comment with the link was deleted, as it definitely constituted an empty accusation against MIA and individual contributers.)

          The page itself was a month old and and was solely comprised of the aforementioned list.

          I did not bookmark that nonsense, so I don’t have the link.

          • I’ll take that as a badge of honor!

            If the most people who don’t like my arguments can do is to attack me, or others who do not accept the Scientology smear as a valid argument in favor of the psychiatric model, personally is that they do not have good arguments in the first place.

            Personally, I have no interest in Scientology as a belief system. I am very happy with my Christian faith, which I see as offering a very fulfilling worldview.

            That said, I think that the way Scientology has confronted organized psychiatry is brilliant and I will never thank them enough for creating CCHR which in turn has helped individual people, like Maryanne Godboldo, confront institutional psychiatry in courts and in the court of public opinion.

          • Someone should research this more and see if there’s a legal way to expose whoever did this. Hopefully there are geeks among us who know how to do this appropriately.

            On the other hand maybe it will draw in some supporters who realize the Scientology thing is a red herring and want to know more about our positions.

          • oldhead,

            Not sure if there is a legal way to expose this, and I am not sure I want it to be exposed either. Anonymity goes both ways, for them and for us.

            The administrator of the MIA website surely must know the email addresses of those who comment in MIA as well as their IP addresses (although the IP addresses might not mean much since there are ways to hide them with tools like https://www.torproject.org/ ).

            I am more interested in exploring whether there is AstroTurf among MIA commenters. By AstroTurf I do not mean people who have views favorable to big pharma or institutional psychiatry -I wouldn’t be in favor of censoring anybody who expresses said views or other views- but people who have been paid to proselytize those views and to disrupt MIA.

            If that were to be the case, it would be a reason to celebrate since that would mean that MIA has reached the point of being perceived as “threatening” by big pharma / institutionalized psychiatry 🙂 .

          • I share your ambivalence, but this was obviously done to intimidate and so the question becomes who knows this site well enough to single out this particular discussion for special treatment, i.e. what is the motivation?

            I have seen discussion sites destroyed by over-accomodation of trolls. If I think I see this pattern emerging here I’ll be sure to scream about it, so far I don’t. But as the quote goes, first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win! 🙂

          • “I’ll take that as a badge of honor!”

            I would, cannotsay. It seemed to me that you were in good company, at least among the commenters on the list. In fact, I felt disappointed that I wasn’t on there myself. Not prolific enough, I guess. 🙁 Oh well, here’s something to consider the next time a list of bogus connections between Scientology and MIA pops up:
            https://www.madinamerica.com/2014/06/psychiatric-drugs-play-role-prom-day-killers-violent-behavior/#comment-43534

        • Cannot say: when I was in LA this summer, I was curious about going to their scientologist’s psychiatry museum. I had seen one of their YouTube videos on the history of psychiatry. I did not make the visit, other interests and time constraints prohibited it. I am not afraid of falling under some one’s spell, nor am I chomping and the bit to join a religion, though I am a little curious about the B’hai Faith.

      • And the more relevant question: WHO THE F*&K CARES? I recommend ignoring any attempts to downgrade our posters or commenters by this or any other tactic and reporting the offender to the moderators. I am hoping that the removal of the comment by Ken is the beginning of a new policy of removing these posts immediately. The above article is about sleeping pills as an entry path to psychiatric addiction and control. It has about as much to do with Scientology as it does with underwater farming. The reference to Scientology was brought up apropos to nothing, and is clearly a common trolling tactic, whether the poster(s) are associated with Big Pharma, the APA, or acting on their own accord. I, for one, am done responding to this idiocy, other than labeling it for what it is – trolling, and attempt to derail and distract the conversation from what we need to be talking about. The answer is to not be derailed or distracted, and hopefully to get the moderators to remove such posts ASAP.

        — Steve

  9. I am so deeply sorry for your loss tabitagreen, it hurts to hear of anyone losing their life to these drugs… They are so easy to get yet so horrible to escape. I’ve seen too many lives destroyed yet I have the honor of also seeing people escape and regain their lives and passion.

    I know from personal experience that who I was on the drugs did not represent who I am today and fighting my way back has given me great compassion. The only way to change this plague is on the grassroots level as it won’t happen through legislation or just education. We have to protect those that haven’t fallen into the trap and help those caught in the net to find their way out.

    Again, I am so sorry.

    • Alesandra, thanks for your compassionate response. I agree that grassroots is the way to go to enact change. I’m working with a small group of parents and educators in my little town to start making some changes to promote mental health in the schools and give teachers and kids tools to manage emotions, stress, etc. So far, there’s been zero resistance. Very exciting!

  10. Thank You Alesandra and welcome to MIA. It is encouraging to have more prominent critics presenting these (obvious) facts to the public. The problems are systemic in medicine, but are especially obvious in psychiatry. I agree that the consumers can affect change in terms of demand, and that individuals must accept responsibility for their own health. Simply raising awareness has not reduced demand so far. Im curious about your view on direct to consumer advertising.
    Michael Rock

  11. It’s not just psych medications. Doctors will dismiss side-effects of other medications too, even if there are lots of people out there having them. The oral contraception pill comes to mind. A great little thing if it works well for you, but can have terrible side-effects, which should be obvious since it messes with your hormones but yet a lot (not all) of the side-effects are denied.

  12. Thanks for your excellent piece, Alesandra, and congratulations on getting off psychiatric medications.

    I too lost 10 years of my life (as well as my previously well-paid professional career) to psychiatry and the meds. However, I like many others on this site didn’t take the step to drugs willingly, but was forcibly detained and medicated, so I too would challenge your statement:
    “So while it’s easy to blame psychiatry, physicians and the drug companies, as consumers we dictate what stays on the market. The more we refuse psychoactive medications, the less they will be produced. As consumers we have the ultimate power and we have forgotten that our health is also our responsibility.”

    I really don’t think we do or we have. While ever psychiatry has the power to breach basic human rights and detain and forcibly medicate people, many thousands will be unwilling victims. Additionally, despite the psych meds having been shown by the drug companies’ own data sets to be neither safe nor efficacious, (and in fact frequently deadly), FDA and other countries’ approval mechanisms have not removed them from sale, but rather, continue to support and defend their use, and doctors push them, so many people become unwitting victims.

    Increasing numbers of children, especially those in foster care, have no voice in their treatment and more and more that’s the case for people in aged care facilities too. Doctors write the scripts.

    Additionally, most doctors either do not support withdrawal as they hold to the chemical imbalance myth, or believe that the meds are non-addicting, and hence have no idea of how to taper people. And they still hand them out like candy…free samples, starter packs, the whole story that you must give them weeks or months to take effect, increase dosage or change meds if not getting an effect, by which time you’re totally screwed. Unless you’re pretty savvy and willing (and able) to defy your doctor’s authority, that’s how you’re likely to stay.

    Drug-company-funded “consumer action/support groups” are frequently the first point of call for vulnerable and distressed people and they too point them in the direction of these “safe” drugs that treat chemical imbalance. Then there’s direct to consumer marketing….

    It takes a bold and capable person to defy all these authorities, and not everyone can do it, so while I agree that consumers need to take responsibility for their health, I think doctors, big pharma and our approval authorities have made that a close to impossible task for many.

    Getting the message out there, as high profile people such as you are doing is one of the essential starting points, but direct pressure also needs to be applied through the courts and by researchers, writers and critics, and especially by doctors refusing to tolerate the corruption currently occurring among their peers in practice, in research and in training.

    …and yes, there also need to be grassroots programs in schools and communities, but when all is said an done, evidence-based medicine is something that needs to become standard practice, no matter how much the psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries try to subvert it in the interests of profits.

    It is wonderful to see doctors and authors and others contributing to this site and exposing the myths and corruptions perpetuated by psychiatry and pharma, but I really do hesitate to blame the patient for not taking more responsibility for their health, when in many instances they are denied their basic human right to do so.

    Yes, people can be encouraged to say no and seek alternatives, but basically I believe doctors and psychiatrists ARE largely responsible for the current mess. They abuse their position of trust in writing the scripts and handing out the samples, they take drug company money and support drug company activities, and they, in far too many instances, hijack people’s lives through involuntary incarceration and forced treatment with medications known to be dangerous in the extreme.

    Please continue your excellent work in fighting for change…but please don’t jump on that traditional psychiatry bandwagon of blaming the victim.

    • Blaming “consumers” (I hate that world being used in context of people seeking medical help) is like blaming a person who got injured/killed in a car accident because the mechanics screwed up their work and installed defective brakes or sth. You can’t be an expert in everything and double and triple check everything in your life. There has to be some reasonable expectation of being able to trust your doctor. Sure, it’s always good to be skeptical and critically examine the medical advice but you can’t expect every patient, especially those who lack education in relevant fields, to investigate the medical literature every step of the way, especially in times of crisis. And I’m not even mentioning the problem of finding relevant information as clinical trials unfavorable to pharma often don’t even get published etc.

  13. Thank you for the article.

    The only problem I have is how you have opened your “Point of Return” program in an attempt to profit off of desperate and suffering people caught in the prescription drug trap by their doctors by selling them ridiculously overpriced supplements that 1. won’t work for withdrawal and 2. might make them worse.

    All of the charities in the UK who assist people in withdrawal syndromes advise NOT to add supplements and herbs and things because of the vast number of people over the last 20 some years they’ve helped that have had setbacks or gotten worse from supplements and herbs. If you have a documentable deficiency, like iron, that is one thing, but that is not what you are advertising through your program.

    Not sure how what you’re doing is much different than the Pharm companies who push useless and harmful products on people for profit. You saw an opportunity where a vast number of people are desperate, sick and suffering and decided to make a business out of it by selling them supplements that are in the hundreds of dollars in cost (when most people in severe drug withdrawal are already having financial hardship b/c they have lost their jobs due to the withdrawal syndrome and cannot work, but they are desperate for relief, so they will grasp at anything they think might possibly help them and are truly vulnerable in their condition.)

    I’ve talked to many people in the psych med withdrawal support groups over the years that I, personally, have been suffering who have complained about your program and how you “guaranteed” them that supplements X, Y and Z would help them and not only did they not help with their severe symptoms from a cold-turkey or over-rapid taper, they made them feel worse.

  14. I read what you said… and in a way, I think that your experience on Benzo’s was very similar to what most people here have experienced, that’s why we are here..

    There are many terrifying stories of people who have gone through hell on these drugs…

    That being said, I don’t really think that anyone really understands what these drugs do, not even the drug companies that make them. After all they are prone to lying about, and falsifying the data on drugs. The FDA, doesn’t really do much about it, except add a black box warning…

    Currently right now in this country there is an epidemic of Xanax addiction. Xanax is a very dangerous drug, because it lowers the seizure threshold of people using it, so seizures are a common occurrence… especially in withdrawal…

    Still, trying to find information on this is next to impossible….

    As to you belief that there should be a better way to go through withdrawal, there is.. Its called acupuncture… I ran a drug clinic on the West Coast at one time that had an acupuncture detox, that worked well for hard core Heroin addicts…

    You won’t find this treatment, much here in the USA because its too cheap, and the medical profession can’t make money with it….

  15. I was able to access acupunture during the terrifying acute phase of my withdrawal from Klonocide-the treatments took away the the terrible shaking/akathesia and helped to finally get a bit of sleep. It kind of plateau-ed out after 2 months, tho-wasn’t seeing any improvements so I don’t go anymore. The practioner was kind enough to treat me under a ‘scholarship’ program because I cannot afford $75/hour.

    And you’re right, elocin, about the supplements-I have been desparate enought to try something called ‘lactium’ (hey, if you haven’t slept in weeks-you will try almost anything) but it was a waste of money. I do take Vit C, magnesium, zinc & iodium (I’m hypothyroid). B vitamins rev me up-I stay away from those.

    I am also seeing a homeopathist-and I had a month long ‘window’ in July…she is sliding scale, which I much appreciate, and also an old friend. There are no side-effects to homeopathy…and yah, it might be hooey, but pfffft…first do no harm.

    Benzo withdrawal is the worst.

    • Compared to the cost of a hospital detox that can run up to $1000 dollars a day for withdrawal, $75 is a bargain. I am glad you were able to get it… Hospitals don’t like it because , you can come and go, while having it done, so theres no $1000 a day admit..

      Supplements are better, but sometimes B Vitamins can do that, if you can tolerate organic brown rice, its rich in B vitamins, and seems absorbed easily, giving you stamina without the stimulating effect of B Vitamins in pill form.

    • I don’t think people should take supplements without a blood check. Test yourself for iron/magnesium deficiency and vitamin levels and supplement only when needed (sometimes it helps when someone is still within the “norm” but close to lower line). One can poison him/herself badly with vitamins/microelements – they’re safer than psych drugs but everything can cause harm if you take too much of it, even water.

  16. When I posted the comment above that somebody higher up at Fox News must know something I wasn’t aware of this editorial by the Times of London,

    http://cepuk.org/2014/06/21/doctors-quick-give-names-conditions-prescribe-medication-says-times/

    “The current fashion to label and try to treat aspects of human behaviour is not only unsustainably expensive, it may also prove injurious to the health of society as a whole…

    Individuals should not be subject to… a pseudo-diagnosis that does little more than stigmatise the particular personality trait they happen to possess and which a prevailing majority view happens to deem unacceptable. Many conditions are created in the naming and the diagnosis often does no good at all.

    Nor, other than as a last resort, should a child suffering no apparent physical ailment be routinely placed on long-term medication, whatever difficulty that child’s actions may create for those adults charged with his or her care. A chemical response may well be convenient but convenience seldom makes for the correct or the civilised course of action. Anxious parents and overzealous doctors are making a problem worse.”

    While they only publish a portion of the editorial, probably because The Times is now behind a paywall, that another influential media affiliated with Rupert Murdoch echoes the message makes me wonder if the guy/gal who “knows something” is even higher than Roger Ailes in the Murdoch media empire.

    In any case, I am very happy to see The Times taking on mainstream psychiatry.

    • Iteresting that they mention personality traits cannotsay.

      I thought that myth was debunked by Walter Mischel many years ago in his book Personality and Assessment. I think his analysis of the sttistical construction of personality traits is particularly relevant to biological psychiatry.

      He found that it was the situation that determined behaviour, much more than any personality trait that could be indentified by assessments. Pretty much how I feel about DSM mental illnesses. If one ignores the environmemtal factors you can use the statistically created diagnoses as being determinants of behaviour. It just takes a great deal of ignorance lol

  17. As someone who has experienced a prolonged benzodiazepine recovery, I deeply support any recognition this epidemic receives . That being said, I find The Point of Return Program to be upsetting for various reasons. Many, perhaps most, people in recovery simply do not tolerate supplements. They can increase already unbearably difficult symptoms.

    It is unsafe to claim that these supplements are safe and effective for people in recovery because 1. There is no conclusive research that they help 2. Anecdotal evidence suggests they can be harmful and worsen symptoms in many, many people who are in recovery and hypersensitive

    It also upsetting that the products cost so much, and most people are unable to work or have lost their careers, and are desperate enough to shell out some cash.

    If you feel strongly about supplements being helpful for SOME people in recovery, why not make an educational website?

  18. We are taught from our society, from a young age, that doctors and medical professionals are knowledgable and should be respected. When several doctors and the FDA repeatedly tell you “this drug is safe” , you will most likely trust them until you go through something horrific because of the medications they prescribe.

    I agree that we have become a society looking for a “quick fix” or instant gratification, and that cultural mindset may be harming people’s health, but I feel the medical community needs to take much more responsibility for the medications they prescribe. If a patient comes in looking for a quick fix, the doctor, (hopefully) knowing these medications might be helpful in the short term, but harmful in the long term, has the right to say no. They are holding the prescription pad and responsible for providing information about side effects.