10 Things I Learned in 5 Years Consulting With People Coming Off Psych Drugs

Chaya Grossberg
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It’s been over 5 years since I started offering non-medical consultations to people in the process of coming off or hoping to come off psych drugs. I have also worked with families of people looking for alternatives and seeking to get out of the hospital/medication runaround.

Before I started this consulting business, I had gained a decade of professional experience with various organizations using different approaches to support people seeking alternatives to psychiatry. Working for these different groups and businesses helped me to learn about models of peer support, nutritional and herbal/supplemental support for the body, detox strategies, tapering methods, and the common challenges people face when withdrawing from substances their doctors told them were safe and medicinal.

I also had my own experience of getting off of 7 different psychiatric pharmaceuticals. I knew I would have died if I hadn’t been able to safely withdraw (and the story would have been that I died of mental illness).

None of the people I have worked with have had an easy time. People don’t hire a private non-medical consultant to help them get off of a prescription medication because it’s easy and straightforward. If there was a simple step-by-step process that could be written in a book or blog, we wouldn’t have this epidemic and I wouldn’t get despairing emails and messages almost daily.

I wanted to share here some things I have learned in this process, which is of course ongoing. Despite how far I/we have come, we have a long way to go in the quest to liberate all who wish to be liberated from psychiatry. Despite the emails I’ve gotten from people telling me that my blog has completely changed their outlook on life and even some that say my writing saved their life, there are many more people for whom all of these ideas are great but the reality of actually going through withdrawal feels impossible.

1. No one gets on psychiatric drugs with informed consent. No one is given lots of accessible, safe options and honesty about where their diagnosis came from and how arbitrary it is, with a good serving of social criticism mixed in, and still chooses to take psychiatric drugs. People take them out of desperation. It’s an inherently manipulative process that doesn’t offer alternatives that are accessible and socially acceptable.

2. The process of withdrawal and all of the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing that go along with it takes a lot longer than most people expect or want it to. It is bootcamp on all levels. For those who come through to the other side, there can be a sense of death and rebirth of a whole new self.

3. Many people don’t have the resources to pay out of pocket for the support they need to go through this extensive and expensive process. The pharmaceutical companies should be liable for this as they create this high cost for recovery from their harm and medical malpractice. Since they don’t take responsibility for their harm, the extra burden is on the rest of us. I’ve been criticized by people on the internet who don’t know me for charging too much when I was scraping by myself and spending my free time voluntarily sharing the best of my knowledge and awareness to help those in this struggle. This is the poor logic of criticizing down the social totem pole rather than up. Of course those whose health and lives have been destroyed by psychiatry and don’t have the resources and support they need to get off psych drugs are rightfully angry and upset.

4. Many people don’t have the energy and motivation to change their health habits while in the throes of psychiatric harm and withdrawal. Changing one’s diet and lifestyle and adding in herbs, supplements and/or other supportive practices can be confusing and just too much to manage for many. Those who do have more money and social resources as well as knowledge about alternative health are most likely to succeed in coming off and staying off psychiatric drugs.

5. Younger and healthier people with stronger constitutions have it a bit easier and may be more resilient.

6. It’s still possible for those with the decks seemingly stacked against them, and having a strong conviction can make the difference. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” This does not mean that if someone is struggling it is their fault or due to a lack of will. Unfortunately psychiatric drugs have a way of dampening the will. The will for some has to come from something beyond themselves, like a higher calling. Sometimes things like destiny and mystery are at play and we can’t claim to always understand or scientifically evaluate why one person can get off and another can’t. We all have different life paths and to deny the mystery in that or try to define everything in linear cause and effect terms is a modern day control mechanism similar to psychiatry itself. Like life itself, there are disparities and unfair things we can’t always explain.

7. Those who have come off psychiatric drugs tend to want to help others do the same. Almost all of the people I’ve worked with over the years have expressed this. Coming off, we gain so much knowledge about what helps that we have to share with others. It becomes a calling.

8. You won’t necessarily get into liability issues for doing what I do. The first question most people ask me when I tell them what I do is about liability. I haven’t been sued or come even close to this. By not claiming to give medical advice and being clear that I am offering consultation based on personal and professional experience, the person I am talking to is free to do what they choose, including their own research and talking to doctors, naturopaths, etc. before making a decision. Maybe I am lucky to have never been sued, but I also believe that by being genuine and honest about what I do and don’t offer and listening to people, respecting their wishes and choices, the chances of being sued are pretty slim. If I had a lot more to lose, I might be more concerned.

9. We need a lot more people doing this at different price points and with different business models, including grant funding and public funding as long as it can be done without loss of integrity. My business model is a simple fee per hour of consulting and then I offer tons of blogs, videos, audios, talks, a newsletter and an e-book for free on my website (and other blogs such as this one). Because I put in so much unpaid work behind the scenes and don’t have other consistent funding, my price for consultations isn’t super cheap. I do have substantially discounted packages and can sometimes offer sliding scale. I’m sure there are more efficient business models than the one I use, and I am always learning more. Just like drug withdrawal takes time, discovering a way to work takes time to develop. In both cases we are reinventing the wheel and doing the best we know at any given time within a broken system.

10. There are many many people out there who can do things similar to what I do, and many more are needed. We need at least as many people helping those who want to come off psychiatric drugs as we have casually putting them on. I’ve started to train people in non-medically supporting those coming off psych drugs so I can list other practitioners on my website www.chayagrossberg.com, or they can create their own way of working. This is something I have started to do locally. There’s also an online training course in the works. Please contact me via my website if you are interested in one-on-one mentorship to learn how to do this or sign up for my newsletter to be informed when the online course is ready.

I’d love to hear your ideas about how we can support each other more in psychiatric drug withdrawal and how we can make that support more accessible, while retaining our integrity and staying healthy ourselves. I hope some of what I’ve learned and shared here can be useful to those coming off or supporting others in coming off psychiatric meds. The biggest thing I have learned and continue to learn is how much this is an unmet need for so many. And it is only going to get greater as both prescribing and knowledge about psychiatric drug dangers increase.

24 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for your Article of wisdom.

    I believe the only people that are expert at coming off Psychiatric Drugs are the people that have come off them. And the only people that are expert at Recovering from “Long term Mental Illnesses” are the people that have recovered.

    People say that coming off Psychiatric Drugs can be dangerous. But going on psychiatric drugs can be dangerous; and changing psychiatric drugs can be dangerous as well.

  2. Fabulous and seriously brilliant work, Chaya. You are so paying it forward, giving such meaning and power to your own journey. I know first hand the delicate balance of creating a business like this, and you seem to be walking that path in your light and power, along with grace and fluidly evolving awareness. Congratulations and continued success in helping to heal this terribly fragmented humanity in which we seem to have found ourselves (or co-created, depending on one’s perspective and beliefs).

  3. Great blog, Chaya! I appreciate your weaving in of social context in all of the sections of your blog. People should have to pay when they harm others, even if they’re not intending to. Psychiatrists and Big Pharma as well as the medical profession as a whole have a lot to answer for, and it’s sad that they make billions while people like you get criticized for charging too much for cleaning up their messes!

  4. Hey Chaya – Synchronistically I was listening to your interview on Madness Radio (June 2013) when I saw this article pop up!!!

    Wow, people pay you to do what I (and the other moderators at http://www.survivingantidepressants.org) do for free? I’m not belittling you – or me – here – because I know we can’t get very personal or do much handholding at Surviving Antidepressants. A website has limitations to support people in crisis. We need people like you to support people through this difficult process. So many people, especially who are trapped in the system, become accustomed to having people “do their thinking for them,” and we at the website cannot “tell them what to do,” but can offer options for them to choose from. Sadly, many of them are not in a state where they can make good decisions. You would be able to get personal and help them through the difficult times, while encouraging them to make better choices as they heal.

    I remember how much stress and weight was removed from my shoulders when I found an orthomolecular doctor to support me as I came off of my drugs. She didn’t make the final decisions, but her support eased my mind so much that I got better just from knowing she was there, supporting me.

    There is a deep need for what you do, and I will keep your info as support for the work that I do. Thank you!

    There is a huge need for this. All you need to do is read all the horrible misled comments on YouTube videos (for example) to see that there is a lot of suffering out there.

    I honour that you are following your passion and thank you for flowing against this monstrous tide that is psych drugs!

  5. I attempted to wean off my psch meds 3 different times over the years with the support first of my Chinese M.D./acupuncturist & herbs, the 2nd time a very experienced Nutritionist and the 3rd time with a psychiatrist I knew. The 2nd & 3rd times, I not only failed, but ruined my life financially, emotionally, socially, my housing, and overall physically was drained. The 2nd time was with tapering and over the course of many months. The 3rd time, I did taper my meds but much quicker…according to my doctor it was okay to do with Prozac. Not true whatsoever. I had what is termed a “serotonergic reaction” the last few times, which caused me to become psychotic and paranoid. I had never been psychotic or paranoid in all the decades I was treated. But if you go to a psychiatrist, or are hospitalized again in this state, the “professionals” will simply tell you ‘you’re getting (mentally) sick again because you stopped taking your meds and you need to go back on them’. After trying 3 times and ruining my finances, support system, housing, etc. I gave up. The decision, for me, was that it was perhaps not a possibility. Had I been born wealthy and been able to afford going to a Rehab Center for an extended, supervised stay I would consider doing it again. But ONLY under those circumstances. My judgment and insight was terribly impaired and I did the most harm to myself. So while it is possible for some people to succeed, and I applaud them, it isn’t always possible for everyone. Society is still in “The Dark Ages” about weaning off psych meds, and I am glad to read about your efforts to train others and share your knowledge in helping people to succeed in coming off meds. Bravo!

  6. Your service is invaluable, and your 10 things learned are all brilliant (especially numbers 7-10). I’m an Illinois attorney, working entirely with forensic (involuntary) psychiatric “patients” who want to stop taking the drugs. I only wish you were in the Chicago area! Practically every client I’ve ever had needs or needed your advice.

    If we can ever collaborate on anything, I would be honored.

  7. Thank you for the great blog Chaya!

    You are doing what I’d like to do with my personal experience of psychiatric drugs and withdrawal. I think your article is both inspiring and thought provoking. I work in Iceland as an occupational therapist and have been looking into ways of using my personal experience for good. Reading your text gave me some ideas and hope. Good to hear that there are people like you out there!

    Best of luck,
    Svava.