The Tapering Team: “Medications: Where Do We Stand in Psychiatry?”


From Underground Psychiatry: “The members of the Tapering Team make up each link in the chain that helps people in care withdraw from psychiatric drugs. They will be present on December 15, 2022, in Paris for the conference ‘Medications: Where Do We Stand in Psychiatry?’ Prof. Jim Van Os, Dr. Groot and Mrs. Dinkelberg will talk about their work on weaning.”

“I have the opinion that we in the Western countries are poisoned by the pharmaceutical industry . . . The tablets we are using are an industrial product, which is very cheap to produce in comparison with listening by a doctor or a psychiatrist to his patient. So the insurance companies, the patients, and the doctors are addicted to the tablets. So we are all stuck in the system. And only if you put the health of the patient as the purpose of your treatment, then you can change it.”

— Paul Harder, Pharmacist in Bavel, The Netherlands, Producer and co-designer of Tapering strips

“I am the president of the patients’ association. But I started to work for that association because I have experience with withdrawal of antidepressants. Day to day I am in contact with the patients who have questions about, ‘How can I withdraw?’ ‘What’s important to take care of?’ ‘With whom can I speak?’ ‘Can I ask you questions?’ All those kind of things are my daily life now . . . And the next step is how can I live without a medication. And I think one of the biggest problems of the last 10 years was the doctors know that, but they don’t know how.”

— Pauline Dinkelberg, Medication Tapering Association Chair, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands

“Every medication that you can get used to, I think, can be difficult to come off, because your body adapts to it. And when you take away the drug, you have to adapt to the new situation. It’s in a sense comparable to somebody who has always smoked and then it turns out that it’s very difficult for people to stop smoking . . . In the Netherlands, when in 2013 we made the first two tapering strips, we hoped — and we were very naive — that we sort of would have solved the problem. And in the beginning doctors were sort of reluctant, they said, I haven’t heard of this, I don’t want this.”

— Dr. Peter Groot, Researcher at the User Research Centre, Utrecht University Medical Centre, Co-designer of the Tapering Strip

“With regard to antipsychotics, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, we know that their long-term use is not a viable option. We have to change this practice . . . Medicine has to transform itself towards the moral era of medicine . . . Medicine must try to add value in people’s lives . . . After 30 years, people wonder: Why am I taking this drug? Why do I go on suppressing my emotions? Even suffering sexual side effects, why do I still continue with this? So they begin to assume the identity of someone who is more empowered, someone who doesn’t necessarily have to follow the medical advice his whole life. It’s a very interesting process. People start to discover themselves, actually. I think it’s something very important. And I see a lot of things changing in these people’s lives. Often they look for a more independent position at work, within their marriages, with their children. So there are many parallel processes showing that people start to develop existentially, to take their independence, to empower themselves… it’s very interesting.”

— Prof. Dr. Jim van Os, Neuroscience Division Chair, UMC Utrecht, The Netherlands


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