Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Comments by larmac

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  • Your story is truly heartfelt for me. I hope you will consider researching how some young developing brains ( thru at least the later twenties) are so negatively altered especially by the potent strains of THC-pot.

    The psychosis you’ve written about is very similar to what happened to my oldest son in 2009 & again in 2011 ( both episodes “only” THC was the substance on his toxicology reports & what he admitted to having used). The pathetic experience with the MH “industry” as you’ve explained is exactly the horrors my son lived through, too.

    For my son, I believe he was hit by a perfect storm of adversity, and being labeled “mentally ill for life”( assigned “bipolar one”) despite no family history & twenty-three years of always healthy, normal mental health was a horrific ordeal that he clearly endured. I will forever believe the barbaric treatment with neuroleptics my son received, both hospitalizations, though he weaned himself off ALL psychotropics meds within several months post discharge ( the 2nd psych hosp the out-patient psychiatrist who treated him in-patient did stop the neuroleptics at the first week follow-up) were evidence how inhumane the MH system remains. To have denied how THC-MJ can trigger these out of mind experiences is shameful. I began researching the connection b/t THC & psychosis immediately but in 2009 a mother’s request asking the so-called “experts” to read their own psychiatric journals was ignored. I hope & pray as these episodes are being seen daily in ER hospitals across the country, kids & their parents are being told the truth, not denied the scientific evidence based data known to many countries that have superb psychiatric epidemiology studies ( like Denmark). America, despite 8 states have now legalized “recreational” pot, STILL has no national tracking system:-(

    Your story Caleb, however, has an uplifting way through the traumatic journey, unlike my son’s end of story. I hope you can keep sharing this message & give HOPE to so many young people who travel this same road. It’s been almost five years since my beautiful 6’4″ full of life son after coming out of psychosis, a 2nd time (within 18 months) while in cessation from marijuana took his precious young life at age 25, shocking & devastating his family & many friends. There’s a syndrome “cannabis-withdrawal- suicide” not well known in America, but is occurring. Sadly, as pot legalization is sweeping the country, scant education to warn the youth of today is reality. Kids still in 2016 do not even consider pot “a drug” & those that use pot & suffer no ill effects refuse to accept some can not use this substance. Plus, the mega billions involved with pot cultivation & distribution further clouds any reasonable education of THC-marijuana harms.

    I can’t bring my son back, but I’d like his legacy to help forewarn others. What my son experienced & died from -the consequences of marijuana use- was completely preventable. I’ve traveled around the globe to find answers & have met many true professionals (addiction therapists, neuroscientists, board certified MH experts -not like the ones that denied pot could trigger psychosis when my son was hospitalized twice, medical journalists) but it’s the many parents I’ve been contacted by who share these similar stories of “psychosis & cannabis” that prompted me to start an educational website to help support families who experience what our kids are suffering. There’s tremendous info on the website which is anchored by a brilliant neuroscientist.

    Caleb- I wish you a long & heathy life. I’m so happy you’ve written for MIA.

    Lori Robinson
    founder http://www.momsstrong.org

  • Will- I believe we have entered a time in society when there are no right or wrong answers. Clearly, IMO, my beautiful 25 year old son died 1-13-12 from the consequences of his use of today’s turbo-charged MJ strains so ubiquitous in the U.S. (whatever we should decide to call the hydroponic cultivated strains of MJ since growers have cross-bred to increase the THC and almost bred out the CBD properties ). I shared my son’s tragic loss with the MIA crowd after I met Bob Whitaker at a conference in TX, 2012, and was so comforted by his words of support about the link b/t psychosis-pot which are in his book – Anatomy of An Illness. I saw firsthand the atrocities of my son’s entry into the MH “industry” the nite this amazing kid with 23 years of proven accomplishments and successes went into the most horrifying episode of hallucinations and delusions after admitting he’d been smoking MJ and it was the ONLY substance he tested (+) to THC. I believe from the depths of my soul, today’s pot carries a high risk of drug-induced psychosis (for a subset of users) which leads to a quick diagnosis, and entry into the tainted and pathetic MH system. My son in Oct ’09 despite 23 years of NO mental instability (and NO history of any severe MI in either family lines just the opposite actually) was trapped into a vortex that will haunt me to my last breath. I WISH Shane had never entered a system that overlooked his use of MJ- denied any link to psychosis ( apparently completely ignorant or just stupid because one can’t read ALL the sci data on PubMed and not realize there is indeed a subset of users who develop MH changes particularly from the higher potency of THC strains.)
    We can all differ in our perspectives but I caution you and the MIA viewers to please realize there are people, especially while the brain in going thru “pruning” at least to age 25, who develop psychotic symptoms from psychoactive substances like THC. I didn’t know until it was too late for my son this generation is surrounded by a “culture of pot” and kids don’t consider pot “a drug”. Since my son’s shocking and profoundly sad death, my nephew (than age 17) experienced a very disturbing change in him from using pot with his varsity sports friends though all the so-called medical professionals denied pot was related. Fortunately, my nephew and his family knew the horrific events of my son’s demise and it took several months for my nephew to rid himself of these bizarre physical symptoms even though he stopped using pot. My brother recently admitted years ago he could not use pot (when it was the “weak” pot back in the 80s) as it triggered paranoia thoughts. Thankfully, my nephew is completely back to his functional thriving self and now in college doing great but he has tried to share his family’s negative adverse effects from today’s turbo-pot with his peers. Sadly, my nephew’s friends don’t believe him! Society refuses to accept there is a subset of users who indeed can not metabolize THC especially over a period of time. I find it unfortunate Dr Ken Duckworth’s words of caution about the psychosis-pot link can’t be respected. While I never went near NAMI while my son was hospitalized because I don’t believe in “mental illness” (I do believe people can develop mental instability but there are always IMO root causes), Dr Duckworth is absolutely correct.

  • Guess the results of this study from King’s College London which has been published in the very well-regarded Lancet journal doesn’t come as any surprise to this mom who desperately tried to convince the so-called MH “experts” to just read the plethora of scientific papers, globally, re:cannabis-psychosis link in Oct’09 & again in May ’11 when my first-born son suffered two episodes of psychosis. Both episodes came out of nowhere, literally overnight, but my than just turned 23 yr old son (2009) admitted to using cannabis ( apparently used more frequently after a serious boating accident/serious knee injury with surgery and extensive rehab) unbeknownst to his parents until his 1st episode psychosis. But instead of looking at the obvious- my son’s use of cannabis & his toxicology report was (+) for THC the p-docs boxed this beautiful young man with NO history of MI “bipolar for life, meds for life”…yet the research I found online suggested marijuana was the culprit. No-one believed the research ( just reinforces the arrogance of society!!!) and what I sadly learned too late- many pot users are dependent on today’s pot since ( according to the Netherland’s & Australian researchers pot strains with at least 15% THC create addictive qualities on par with heroin & cocaine). Sad I had to lose my extremely beloved, extroverted son who had many successes in life before using pot since it’s such a part of this youth culture. His many friends & family mourn his tragic death, by suicide, 37 months ago ( having been off all psychotropics & THC). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11414605/Super-strong-cannabis-responsible-for-quarter-of-new-psychosis-cases.html

  • It’s such a long story which I have shared in ad nauseam but most of the MIA bloggers were so tolerant and really helped educ me about the tainted, corrupt MH “industry”. In my quest now 60 months long (27 months while my son had two ‘episodes’ of psychosis, 18 months apart, both times triggered by his use of “recreational” THC and the 33 months since his death) I have traveled far and wide to obtain the knowledge I have gained.

    First, I had to realize my son had 23 years of being the most normal, grounded, well-loved, with friends far and wide, young man until overnight, he lost reality. Fortunately, he gained his normal MH back, but the MH “industry” absolutely sold him a death sentence starting in the 1st psych hosp (10-09) because of their ignorance to know about the cannabis-psychosis link (just google the free search engine PubMed) even in 2009 there were ~ 1000 sci publications. I knew my son could not have this severe MI but it was so complicated by the arrogance and ignorance of these psych “experts” (in-patient and out-patient) who refused to accept THC could cause this break. And these same morons could not accept the 21st century strains of THC are such potent “skunk” strains. Even again in 2011 when my son who had 18 months of “normalcy” (like his first 23 years of life) returned to using THC. (I warned him and his wife about the research articles but considering their friends kept using because it’s so accepted in today’s culture and the shrinks did not believe this psychoactive drug was responsible for his altered state in 2009 unfortunately my son relapsed- at that time I had no idea how psychologically addicting this substance is for some brains).

    And if anyone who gets forced into a psych hosp with the MASSIVE amount of neuroleptics given to my son, which caused him horrific side effects (extrapyramidal sxs, 55lbs of wt gain in 4 months leaving stretch marks over his always statesque physique) is it any wonder a young person would ask the caring psychologist (who began working with our son once psychosis abated) to help him wean off these meds? Why would any human being continue taking meds that caused so much mental fog + the named side effects? The first time his wife made sure he dutifully received them and my son was a compliant kid, brought up to know you take meds when absolutely necessary but get off them if terrible side effects should occur . None of our family offered opinions to take or not to take because we naively believed the “expert” p-doc knew best. NOPE!!! My son was an adult and once he slowly weaned off these meds, he became himself more and more. The first time I always believed I was watching some kind of science experiment (I never thought the psychotropics helped my son) but family members and friends insisted “he needs these meds like a diabetic needs insulin” mentality. Of course my son was newly married, so we could only watch from afar. Sadly, the stressors upon my son likely led him back to the “recreational” use of weed. (I thought I had safeguards in place should my son EVER try to return to any substance which has psychoactive agents, but the safeguards failed me).

    After being completely “normal” (his psychologist shared he never believed our son was “bipolar” after working for decades with clients who suffer various MH issues) until the 2nd and last ‘episode’. His psychologist also admitted he was not well versed on the cannabis-psychosis assoc but didn’t rule it out but the out-pt p-doc insisted there was nothing to this link and brainwashed “bipolar for life”. My son elected to stop seeing the p-doc (best decision of all) who also dismissed my son had any “substance dependence or addiction” after his 1st psych hosp (and several other p-docs my husband and I took our son to trying to get some medical doctor to be reasonable and look at the kind of normal life he had for 23 years but no one offered any different dx other than MI).

    If my son hadn’t returned to “recreational” weed, I categorically believe he would be alive and thriving today. Just the adversity he was facing and the stressors really clouded the bigger picture- today’s cannabis “skunk” -meaning the very potent strains of THC this culture uses- they have no idea most of it is genetically cultivated hydroponically which is causing some young brains (~15%) to develop psychosis. There isn’t a soul alive that didn’t meet my son, after he came out of his altered thinking which lasted ~ 10 weeks the 1st time, who could have known he had been dx with this severe MI.

    And if anyone wants to educate themselves with the biochemical and pharamacology of both THC and our own bodies naturally occurring endocannabinoid systems which THC in essence displaces upsetting the neurotransmitters that keep us “balanced” it’s not so hard to comprehend why some especially young, developing brains (up to age 25, some scientists believe age 30) when the “neural pruning” is happening can develop depression, mania, psychosis… It really boils down to the disruption of the neurotransmitter, anandamide, which THC mimics disrupting the homeostasis. Anandamide is involved in thermo-regulation which explains why some of those in cannabis withdrawal develop sweats. The disruption from THC in many brain structures is why THC overwhelms the EC system. THC over time alters the EC system which can lead to problems with memory, addiction and MH. I believe my son’s altered reality was “temporary” once the last of the THC metabolites exited his brain (the last place this lipophilic molecule leaves) but it can take weeks. But where the jury is out is when a person who had in essence a brain break returns to that same substance again, I still have questions.

    My son did come back to reality, again ~10 weeks after his 2nd loss with reality. Though instead of giving him the drug rehab I pre-arranged (and we paid ~$13,000 plus my son’s PPO ins) <24 hrs coerced to their locked unit, given multiple neuroleptics that exceeded FDA and verified since I subpoenaed his medical records many month after his death when I read in the LA Times about the ongoing deficiencies and scandals surrounding this same psych hosp/rehab) my son was warehoused, labeled, his toxicology (+) for THC IGNORED (AGAIN LIKE THE 1ST EPISODE) than "dumped"once his ins refused further stay. (Too bad the insurance evaluators didn't bother to call us, his parents, who had full HIPPA rights since our son signed upon admission we be kept informed, and share why they refused to let our son continue- it was obvious to us, his parents, each night we visited how WORSE he got day after day while the liar p-doc told us he would move our son to drug rehab.) Oh, the "system" is just egregious in so many ways. Just to confuse any young person, despite the massive amounts of neuroleptics given my son during his 2nd psych hosp, the same in-patient p-doc followed my son out-patient. At my son's first f/u visit, I drove since we had to take away my son's truck as he had been drugged into such a stuporous state and despite how he was admitted (just a mild degree of psychosis) after 13 days in that locked hellhole completely in full-blown psychosis when he was "dumped" from the locked unit. This same JERK p-doc, now so impressed how handsome and well-groomed my son looked just a week out of that horrific environment he was kept against his will (but the hosp records report "voluntary" -all true FACTS) now tells both my son and me (the p-doc allowed me to stay for the session) "stop all neuroleptics immediately- he doesn't need them" (little did he know or care to ask what meds my son was taking because as soon as he was "dumped" I looked at insane amount of neuroleptics and told my husband "I hope you trust my judgement with my professional degrees and years in health care because I am not giving our son Haldol…." . This absolute imbecile, with his Harvard educated med degree, and law degree!!! did not realize this same kid, a week later, was coming out of psychosis because his mother had the good sense to start weaning him off the massive psychotropics that locked psych hosp had forced upon his poor brain!!!!! I can not tell you what I wanted to say to that "expert". Imagine, any p-doc would not have thoroughly assessed my son upon admission (trust me I have all my son's records) and than blasted his brain with so much crap, labeling him with this severe MI, and IGNORING the toxicology report!!!

    And sadly, I did not know than what I have since learned. We allowed our son to move away "to start anew" with the blessings of two psychologists who were involved. But no one (family, therapists) knew how that cessation from cannabis, ~ 6 months out, is assoc with the greatest risk for suicide. (Since our son never got the drug rehab he was promised, I will always hold the psych hosp directly responsible for his death. The reason why we took our son 35 miles away from our home is because a friend whose own son had finished this hosp's drug rehab program and felt it very helpful. The hosp evaluator had actually told me the day I pre-arranged for my son to enter once finding out he had returned to using cannabis "you need to bring your son here because we get so many mis-diagnosed kids with MI that don't know how weed mimics MI in their brains"). Pretty sad that we, unknowing and naive parents, didn't get that knowledge as I totally believed as long as our son never touched another mind-altering substance, and healed up in nature where he moved to live, attending AA, he was home free.

    I hope other parents will wake up and stop believing society which continues to promote lies that today's cananbis "skunk" is benign which clearly for some young brains is not. I wonder if the parents in the video linked to this article ever realized their son's MI was actually drug-induced?

  • I’m going to throw in my to cents considering it’s been 33 months since my husband and I found our beautiful, 6’4″ son, just 25 years old, dead by hanging, in our family cabin near Yosemite. ( I felt him die that day- an indescribable feeling of terror hit me on my way to work that day and my attempts to immediately contact my son were futile). Shane’s dad was driving that evening, after work, to spend the weekend, as he did for almost the last five months since our son begged us to let him move up there ” to start anew” after so much adversity hit him. I left work and my husband joined me for the long 5 hr drive to find our first-born. With each passing hr, our son did not respond back I near this foreboding feeling was preparing me my boy was gone. Not that he had given any suicidal warnings to us, but he had been hosp in a locked psych unit 7 months earlier ( we persuaded our son to enter and pre-arranged the drug rehab program once we found out our son had returning to using cannabis which for his young, developing brain had once again caused the start of his loss of reality). My son’s world collapsed with the 2nd hosp, he never got a second of drug rehab- < 24 hrs after admission tricked into their locked unit, and given massive amounts of neuroleptics until he was in such a drug stuporous state the staff asked us, each night, we visited " could he have dropped acid?" Nope, how sad that a well-known psych hosp in Pasadena, 2011, and the psych hosp, in Ventura, CA, 10-09 each time my son tested (+) for THC, these moron "experts" did not know 15% of users develop psychosis from today's cannabis "skunk" strains so ubiquitous with this culture. Kids today tell me " We don't even consider weed/cannabis a drug". What common denominator between my son and the parent's son in this article's video who also died, by suicide, age 24: both had used drugs, both had also received the "bipolar" dx. It wasn't until 2 months after my son married his longtime gf that we found out our than 23 y/o had been using cannabis (as Shane told us the night of his 1st 'episode' of psychosis). Yes, a drug as "benign" ( so this culture believes) as cannabis is altering young brains. I challenge anyone to tell me how a young man who had many successes plus a zest for life, friends from far and near, could have two 'episodes' of psychosis, than die by suicide within a 27 month time frame? And 3 more states just voted to legalize recreational pot. ( One more thing our son weaned himself off ALL psychotropics once his psychosis abated, before he moved away). Our son's toxicology report at death was (-). https://mail.aol.com/webmail/getPart?uid=32969372&partId=3&saveAs=professionalweddingpictures126.jpg

  • @ garden lisa- I think Rossa Forbes provides the most practical, realistic ways to try to support your son. I think the most critical truth known on MIA, as your son so clearly expressed to you- no psych hosp in “the system” is a helpful or supportive environment.
    When I found the p-doc Consultant (Tom Carter, Bellevue, WA) who reviewed my son’s medical records, after his death ( 7 months after he was held against his will for 13 days in a psych hosp/ rehab in Pasadena, CA, 2011) it was only because of an article in the LA Tines which chronicled the deaths in this hospital that I accepted the great bodily harm- from massive amounts of neuroleptics- he was forced to take inside this locked unit- and I had to accept the egregious practices + the brainwashing were a huge factor in my son’s suicide. But trying to find a Consultant that wasn’t so immersed with the paradigm of MH care- excessive drugging- was more than challenging. I was moved by Dr. Carter’s review of what he offers as ” criminal” treatment from what my son endured in this psych hosp. . And I will never forget his comment “I tell my patients, and their families, the LAST place to be is inside a locked psych unit as the outcomes are so poor”. If that doesn’t sum up the sad state of affairs within the system of MH in America.
    My hope is you might contact some resources suggested here and find a like-minded “expert” who can work with your son to help him not fear the very professionals that should be helping him, and you. I don’t think any one on this site can tell you what is in your son’s best interest. My family and I fully believed as long as my son’s mind returned to “normal” ( no hint of psychosis in months), was off all substances ( he was), attending AA, that living in nature by Yosemite he would fully recover. But what we could not, at that time due to lack of knowledge and understanding about the brain changes and how drug (both illicit and Rx) withdrawal is such a challenging process. And as Rossa so well writes- the young are so vulnerable. I believe, as a mom, I did everything I could at the time.

  • To “gardenlisa”- my heart aches for you after reading your posts. Trust me, from one mom to another I get this awful road you’re on. Today, 9-13 marks the 33rd month since my precious first-born son died by suicide. Unfortunately, as you have found out the journey once our ” children” enter the psychiatric wastelands of Psychiatry nothing goes right. The psych hospitals, in desperation we parents ultimately take them to, just add insult to injury. While I don’t know what triggered your son’s decent with altered thinking, sadly, I have leaned in far too many scenarios – illicit drug use- started these wicked changes to their brains. And since my passion includes activism ( I’m going after the second and last psych hosp that lied, deceived, coerced my than 24 y/o son who returned to using what he ( and almost everyone else) believed was a benign herb- marijuana- but the truth is for some young, developing brains the potent cannabis”skunk” strains with its potent psychoactive THC are altering the neural pathways of their brains. Instead of the drug rehab program my husband and I paid thousands of dollars for, plus my son’s PPO insurance, the hosp coerced my son 1500 scientific studies) the “experts” ignored/refuted my questioning if there was an assoc since our son had never exhibited MI symptoms, exactly the contrary as he was such a very socialized, extrovert personality. But tragically, so many illicit drugs alter the normal functioning of their young brain. Than unless you are aware and can find someone who understands young developing brains, and have Addiction training( neither of the two psych hosp my son entered had such an “expert”) the usual treatment of choice is bombard their young brains with Rx psychotropics, which just messes up their neural pathways further. And yes, my observation was the p-docs have forgotten basic Psych 101 that SLEEP is THE most important natural healing therapy. I doubt Melatonin is effective given the kind of drug withdrawal your son may be experiencing. There was only 1 Rx out of the cocktail of drugs my son was released with that I personally believed was effective but it, too, can be habit-forming but my son weaned himself off once his sleeping patterns re-normalized, ~ 10 wks it took our son( just like the 1st episode, 18 months earlier) but this time our son moved back in with his parents after his wife abandoned him.

    Though I have just my own educational and professional background, I work in health care ( though never had involvement with MH) I learned so much since this tragic ordeal began for my son, Oct 2009. I do believe drugs, not just illicit, but the Rx psychotropics, during withdrawal – which at the time I had NO knowledge how long these symptoms last (the truth is beyond months) and that is the most important fact I can share with you. While there is helpful resources others have blogged here, it may be your son requires a p-doc who understands the tainted, corrupt system of this industry. And what my family and I had no awareness our son, who moved far away to a isolated area, in nature ” to heal, start anew” in spite of almost every weekend visits from his father, and both of us were with our son over Néw Years, and we truly believed he was well on his way to a full recovery ( was attending AA meetings since moving there 5 months earlier), no presence of psychosis for months, had weaned off all psychotropics, our son, just 25 years of age, took his cherished life Jan 13, 2012 ( and he tested negative for any substances upon death). But there is sooooooooo much that my son left us not knowing as he did not allow us to know the psyche pain he was suffering (yes, we knew the betrayal of his wife, loss of his job, and how many friends retreated once he moved away so there were many, many adversities our son was facing) on top of a physical injury he had recently faced but our son had always had such an indestructible character. The brainwashing ” bipolar for life, MI for life “mantra was too much of a hurdle to climb in the end. Whether the drugs- illicit, Rx- altered my son’s brain, I still believe it was the disregard for the traumas he was dealt while hosp by ignoring the elephant in the room, the reason he was turning to mind-altering drugs to escape “life” simply to be drugged mercilessly in these locked units and brainwashed with a permanent, lifelong stigma of a debilitating MI.

    It’s unfathomable to be placed in such desperation trying to find the right support for your son, especially a place for him be “safe” from his possible destructive thoughts against himself, his family yet with really no support anywhere. I have the name of the p-doc ( Consultant) in the greater Seattle area, who told me he ” skypes” with his patients. It’s the only alternative I can suggest to returning to these despicable locked units which, IMO, no human being should enter. I will have nightmares the rest of my life that my family and I believed in “the system” until once our son fell prey. Surely, in this country, ALL of us who have either been personally harmed ( or seen our family members) be led into such darkness from supposedly their treatment need to stand up and be counted. And tell society we must bring about change- start peer respite centers, Open Dialogue programs……

    If we don’t become active, as Ted Chabasinski ( J.D.) is always advocating, more families in America will continually to face the road to hell we parents walk with our children. I repeat what I now say to others along my journey” if this could happen to my son, to this family, I swear no family is safe”.

    I will hold your son, and your family close in thought. My heart is with you.

  • Wow, if everyone could read such positivity and realize most emotions are ” normal” even though individuals respond in varied ways.

    In this increasing difficult world we live in, we need to be reminded how “normal” it is to feel many different emotions.

    Thank you for writing such an such an uplifting, timely piece.

  • The San Jose Mercury Néws should be nominated for a Pulitizer for its story exposing the egregious drugging of foster kids in CA. It’s completely heartbreaking. How in society did these practices become the norm? For the Berkekey psychiatrist to suggest the drugging of foster kids ” is malpractice” – surely his words stand out? Recently, there was a court case involving similar egregious neuroleptic/”antipsychotic” drugging of a woman in a nursing home in Ventura, CA. The law firm representing this case, which won, was in Thousands Oaks. Surely, brain violations against our most vulnerable members of society, the innocent children caught up in the foster case system, should be litigated too? Are there not law firms in CA willing to get involved? Isn’t that what we keep hearing from many at MIA-these cases must be represented legally to bring about change?

    At the end of this article, there is contact info. I ask each of us to voice our concerns!!!

  • @mommyof3-

    http://www.madinamerica.com/2014/08/extend-your-childs-adhd-summer-drug-holiday-to-infinity-and-beyond/. This MIA article by Michael Coorigan Ed.D will help you realize how wrong the so-called “experts” are who berate you for not medicating your son, yrs ago.

    For me, it’s been quite overwhelming as I’ve found out so many truths along this journey we parents are on. I ask you to try your best to take time for yourself now. You need to stay with (+) energy to help your son now. I try to go hiking, get a massage, and starting some meditation too- because these issues are awfully taxing to our souls.

  • Dear Mommyof3- I held my breath reading your post. I’m grateful for the advice our MIA community has shared with you. I think the most important tip I can share with you is your son needs to be educated how drugs, especially the mind-altering cannabis (more accurately now ” skunk” varieties most use) effect their young, developing brain. Heroin has terrible physiological effects especially during withdrawal, but IMO, cannabis use on the young brain can ( to some brains) can and is leading to psychosis, schizophrenia (especially the younger age when used), and depression. I will add a definite other horrifying outcome from cannabis use- suicide. How do I know? I lost my bright star, my first-born son at age 25, after 27 hellish months he endured with two ‘episodes’ of psychosis, 18 months apart, locked up in two different psych hospitals where no human being should ever end up. If I can help anyone, realize this drug is NOT the drug of the hippie days – just do your own research. IGNORE the so-called MH experts. They got it wrong with my son as the paradigm of care in MH is “medicate for life, program/ brainwash mental illness for life”. DRUGS, psychotropics- illicit or prescribed, change the neural pathways. But depression from DRUGS is real and in my naivety as my son was off ALL drugs, he tested neg for all substances yet he took his own life:(. I was sooooo ignorant about the effects of drugs, how long withdrawal can last( for months) and a stat I never knew until it was too late for my son. The highest risk of suicide from cessation of cannabis is 6 months- exact window of time my son unfathomably exited his precious life. And yes, trauma, is real, and the cause for many emotional stresses. BUT IMO kids using ” recreational” drugs trigger these brain changes…. and they have no idea the hell they are inflicting upon themselves, and their family.

    Pls follow your maternal gut, listen to your intuition. Moms are not wrong!! You found us, a good start. Your son will be bombarded with the MH paradigm of care- medication- as this is engrained in the counselors, teachers…. I urge you to keep educating yourself. I have made contact with researchers around the globe. One of the best educational websites is Cannabis Skunk Sense, a charity in the UK, to help parents and young people realize the dangers, for some brains, using the very strong THC varieties of weed. Kids, no matter what country, have NO idea what they are using “recreationally” with their peers. The U.S. lags so far behind in educating its citizens!!!! Even the cannabisandpsychosis.com website in Canada has excellent educ info, geared to their young citizens. BUT warning the website is embedded in the MI angle which please overlook. It’s the educational knowledge you seek to gain. Best to you, and your son, I’ll be holding you both close to my heart.

  • Thank you Michael for another “common sense”article on ADHD. I distinctly recall when my two sons were in elementary school. My oldest was an Oct b-day, and fortunately I had read enough (and been persuaded by his pre-school teacher not to let him start kindergarten being just four years old). So, every parent-teacher conference through elementary school, my husband and I were never surprised to hear each one of his teachers rave about his listening skills, ability to sit in the reading circle without moving around and would comment “oh, if only my class had more Shane’s there wouldn’t be so much inattention in the class”). One year I suggested could it be his ability to not fidget and get lost in thought was perhaps due to the fact he was a later birthday, meaning he was actually a year older than some of the kids-especially the boys?) My son in 5th grade announced he wanted to know why during lunch time so many of his friends had to go to the school nurse and get “special pills”. I had no idea what he was referring to so met with the teacher who whispered “oh, a lot of the boys in this class have ADHD- they can’t sit still so they have take medications”. I was quite horrified and I pressed further. “Just how many boys are sent for these meds each day”. I still remember her response “9”. I blurted out “that’s just not scientifically possible Ms. Lomen- that 25% of your classroom is dx with ADHD”!!!!!! I called my brother-in-law who was a h.s principal in another large city in CA. My brother-in-law assured me there must be some aberrant therapist labeling the kids in school. Hardly, this was the start of pathologizing kids’ behavior. I was so grateful my son didn’t have to go thru such judgement. But later in high school, as the ADD/ADHD craze had flourished for many years, my son began telling me “I think I have ADHD” which I tried sharing with him if he truly had this disorder it would have shown up in earlier years, not now. I think my son was perhaps feeling overwhelmed with school but didn’t or couldn’t share his feelings. And sadly, I have begun to process that his very social days in high school, the parties he attended may have definitely affected his young, developing brain. And I have to wonder since so many of his friends were being medicated with these stimulant drugs, it may have been easier for many of them to start with parties where underage drinking (more accurately “binge drinking”) was the norm. Even with strict curfew, appropriate consequences if the rules of our home were broken, my son and his many friends did engage as peer pressure became a force that was quite a battle for me, as a parent. We did have some challenges as my son wanted to do what he wanted, when he wanted which sometimes conflicted with the rules of our house. I always believed my son was “testing the waters” in high school, but we still believed he was ultimately a responsible teen and would keep himself out of harms’ way. And for the most part, we had no serious issues with him in high school, but I look back now and wonder since there was so much stimulants that so many kids were subjected to taking from early ages on, did this become a gateway for drug experimenting ? After my son had the first psychotic ‘episode’ two months after he married his long-term g-friend, at age 23, and it took 10 weeks for his brain to really “re-normalize” from what I believe was cannabis-induced psychosis (though the hospital labeled it “rule out bipolar one”) my son commented “Mom, I was so innocent in high school. Do you have any idea the things that kids were using back than?” Of course, I didn’t as I thought the party scene these kids engaged in-with alcohol- was outrageous considering they were minors. Only after his breakdown, did I become immersed in awareness how illicit drugs are soooo much more prevalent than I had fathomed. I wish while my son was alive I could have recognized he was so right. My son did not engage in the illicit drug scene while living at home with us, but the temptation upon moving out post high school- and his girlfriend who looked the perfect image of wholesome, eloquent, straight A student- was the one who apparently was actively engaged in using cannabis, and other hallucinogens even in her high school days. I truly lived in a world that knew so little about substance abuse, actually just never believed my son could get caught up in it. But sadly, he did and even though he was labeled “recreational” by the hospital records, how much started because of the reckless use of ADHD meds with this generation of kids? For me, it’s still too hard to accept my kid, who did not use ADHD meds, is gone.

  • I agree with the post above from Jonathan. In fact, I’ve received several organizations this week, like the AFSP, using Willims’ tragic death to ask for donations. We have become really a disingenuous society that money drives everything today. I have no doubt that these organizations think they can convince folks by funding their groups, the suicide prevention methods they support actually help. I ask – ” if so, why as the video you posted with the terrifying stats ” every 16 mins, another suicide occurs”. So, I’m linking my friends to “alternatives to suicide ” which makes more sense than anything I’ve heard since I lost my 25 y/o son to suicide, 31 months ago.

    If our society doesn’t start to open up dialogue where human beings feel “safe” amd “supported” to discuss their deepest, dark thoughts and fears, how can suicide lessen? For anyone suffering a severe emotional crisis, irregardless of the trigger, to be told they are hopelessly and incurable mentally ill, for life, add in the toxic and debilitating meds given ( which is why my son weaned off them) what is wrong with this picture? I so wonder if I had known to not be afraid and ask my son was he having any dark thoughts but I never did. I just believed once he came out of his 2nd ‘episode’ of psychosis and never touched any recreational substances again, ate healthy, was surrounded by his family that loved him…he would bounce back into the always fun loving, bigger-than-life personsonality he had been. But my son insisted on moving far away, deeply wounded by his wife who left him in the midst of his 2nd hosp for another guy, than losing his job….and somehow he got lost so far away. My son whom people described as a “people person” left us a note which said “I can’t go on”.

    The education from what I quickly became immersed in sadly didn’t help me save my son, in time. But I hope the various ways each of us, here at MIA, learn about how to reduce these devastating suicides it will help someone else. So, thank you for this link as it seems like a much more community based, non-judgmental environment which offers people HOPE . Surely, it can’t be so hard to see by including people, where others share these same fears, the message can help prevent suicide. It seems so rationale, to be honest, before my life was sucked into the traditional psychiatric wastelands my son sadly got entangled with, I just assumed there were support groups like this all around. How wrong I was but the organization you work for and the people like Leah Harris who also work with you truly inspire me. HOPE, 4 letters that mean the differnce between life and death. Thank you.

  • Madmom- in case you didn’t read the article on the alternative healing centers in Brazil, we moms can only stop and wonder “if only”…. Neither from what I’ve read about your daughter, or my son, had any hint of abnormal behavior (anything but!) until they unfortunately used recreational drugs (cannabis fueled a destructive alteration on their reality). Had our families been living in Brazil, I wager to believe your daughter would not be incarcerated in some mental hellhole and my son would be alive and thriving as he fully had all his life until he met his fate with the warped MH wastelands in this country. I’m sure our families both now live in purgatory with all we’ve endured. Just I’m still holding out for a miracle your daughter will be released and somehow, some way the right “healer” will find a way to reach her.

  • Surely, we, as a society should be asking ourselves WHY as The Néws Tribune reports “psychiatric boarding” has”pretty much exploded” across the state the past 7 yrs, with 3,421 pts with MH problems held in ERs in 2013???? I know the answers are clear as the nose on our face.

    My 23 y/o son in Oct, 2009 developed altered reality, literally overnight, was rejected by the first psych hosp the police dropped him off at because his bride of two months called 911 on his sudden bizarre, delusional behavior. Unfortunately, my son’s rapid onset of altered behavior was so beyond frightening to myself and his dad once we found our son in the wee hours of the night completely out of his mind as the psych hosp had called a taxi to haul him off- where ?? We convinced our son to get in our family car, where he tried to jumped out on the 101 fwy and was IMO suffering a breakdown. And my son’s admission” I know you don’t think I do drugs but I’ve been using marijuana but it’s just a herb, harmless” I believed would help the ” experts” (at the next psych hosp we found) to investigate could this be the trigger behind his brain unraveling ( especially given he was such a well-adjusted, socially stable young guy with many successes already in life). Did any one bother to isolate the recent traumas he was dealt. NOPE!!!! Despite THC was (+) on his toxicology report, it was just label and massively over-drug, ignore how a mind-altering drug( especially the skunk varieties abundant to produce extreme highs though most young users are unaware how this drug has genetically morphed) the ” experts” refuted the cannabis-psychosis link.

    To quote one of our most articulate MIA bloggers, Jonah (BeyondLabeling):

    from Sandy Steinberg’s ” Anti-Psychiaty” article:
    And, as far as the sorts of ‘madness’ that winds up being ‘treated’ in most psychiatric “hospitals” goes, I think that, probably, the majority of ‘cases’ are drug and alcohol related; they could be healed rather quickly, if only those individuals were led to realize the harms being caused them by their drug(s) of choice.

  • I think Jonah raises a valid concern. Most of the MIA community that comment come from a place of unique perspective. We all have active, busy lives. For those of us that take time to read whichever relevant article(s) on this webzine and respond there should be some acknowledgement, somewhere, regarding germane feedback. The authors on MIA may have limited time but shouldn’t this community receive at least some collective dialogue at least to some of the valid points raised? Dr Ragins offers this 5 step plan to reduce social isolation specifically addressing ” we have to be a community that cares for each other”. And since each of us has been personally harmed ( or watched our loved one egregiously violated by the very system Dr Ragins is a professional within) isn’t it essential this author actively engage with some of the commenters? Otherwise, it feels like business ,as usual, in MH.

  • Of course, Sean Blackwell, you nailed it! Sadly, it seems no-one cares in the 21st century of MH ” treatment” at making thorough observations, and accurate diagnosis! It’s just a political game between MH and the equally despicable insurance companies to box in a person who is experiencing some psyche crisis (either from use of mind-altering drugs, illicit or prescribed) or affected by a trauma they’ve experienced into some cookie-cutter label! Yes, now the ubiquitous ” bipolar” label reigns in America.
    Absolutely, as you correctly suggested to this researcher, people experiencing psychosis ( for whatever the cause) now receive the bipolar one or two label (depending on the severity of psychotic experiences) as opposed to 30 yrs ago, the dx would have than been SZ.
    Wish I would have not been brainwashed, myself, when an ” expert” in ’09-’10 cautioned me not to show my than 23 y/o son, who literally overnight developed bizarre, altered thinking ( of course as your videos clearly illustrate for some brains, today’s genetically altered hybrid cannabis plant which yields VERY high ratios of THC and low ratios of CBD can , and are, fueling psychotic-like symptoms ). I now understand much more and like to imagine your videos accessing every young person (and those around them who suffer not knowing what psychosis really represents) as it really can be so frightening to be living with someone actively in psychosis. Rather, I envision people instead being educated how these kind of experiences can be life-changing, spiritual, instead of the dark tainted labeling with a severe MI ( bipolar 1) as assigned my son. That label and stigma, ultimately took my son out. But I deeply believe, there were factors that triggered his two ‘episodes’ , 18 months apart, and the mind goes to this altered reality, where enlightenment and spiritual growth can occur IF the person is allowed to not be stigmatized and labeled and truthfully shunned like a leper.

  • Mark,
    The comments from Steve McCrea, blogger, are incredibly true IMO. I hope you consider furthering Steve’s focus on the how the profoundly negative effects from “labeling and stigmatizing” contribute to the isolation and traumas far too many people today suffer with.

    And yes, absolutely, you are correct ” we’d likely prevent some suicides with this strategy”. My 25 y/o son took his precious life, 30 months ago, as he could not handle the devastating trauma of being horribly diagnosed twice, in 18 months, “psychosis NOS, rule out bipolar one” from the first psych hosp and the second hosp ” bipolar one with severe psychotic features”. My son’s incredibly social circle of peers and his wife could not either handle the ‘diagnosis’ and ‘prognosis’ that the ” experts” gave my son. His young wife, of 20 months left my son for another guy and as the divorce was being completed; and exactly at that point, he took his life.

    Why didn’t the MH system correctly identify that for my son’s developing brain, his ” recreational” use of THC ( today’s potent strains of hybrid marijuana seed producing VERY psycho-active effects) which he tested (+) both toxicology reports were the catalyst for his twice diagnosis of ‘psychosis’ instead of boxing my son into a severe MI when he had never had MH issues all his young life (anything but)? Why didn’t the MH system care enough to identify the adversities he had recently been dealt? Imagine, if my son had not been given the “bipolar” label and instead sent to a drug rehab to learn how to cope with life, and helped to learn how using ANY mind-altering substance can trigger altered reality (both ‘episodes’ he did return to ” normal”). Imagine if my son and his family, had been educated about how recreational drugs create depression, especially cessation, the effects can last many months. No, the “system” just reinforced more trauma which shattered his proud ego. Add in the loss of support he had with his friends and wife because of the stigma from the horrific LABELING. Surely, we, as a society, can and must bring about change starting with indeed, recognizing the elephant in the room.

  • PBS NEWS HOUR: April 2, 2014: Is Pot Getting More Potent?

    The average potency of pot has more than tripled in the past two decades, according to testing done for the federal government. This comes just over a year after Colorado and Washington legalized the drug and as many other states consider making it legal for medical or recreational use.

    Scientists determine potency by measuring levels of THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive ingredient that gives marijuana its “high.” And data from the University of Mississippi’s Potency Monitoring program found that the average potency of marijuana has jumped from 3.4 percent THC in 1993 to 12.3 percent THC in 2012. Scientists at the lab say they’ve seen samples as high as 36 percent.

    This month’s “High Times” magazine, with a cover promoting “The Strongest Strains on Earth,” claims to have analyzed 15 strains of pot with potencies ranging between 25 to 28 percent THC. Marijuana near that strength can be bought at many legal retail shops and medical dispensaries across the U.S.

    THC is lipophilic ( fat loving and the brain is a fatty organ). I will forever believe the ” experts” should have known my son’s rapid descent twice, 18 months apart, both ‘episodes’ testing ( +) for THC ( which is the ingredient that causes the high) in those two different psych facilities ( the last psych hosp was for my son to receive drug rehab once we found out he returned to using cannabis yet he was coerced to their locked unit, brainwashed ” bipolar for life” until he was ” dumped” ) instead of recognizing my son was suffering from effects of THC on his young, still developing brain. Shouldn’t we start recognizing this travesty is happening? I’m apolitical at present about marijuana, but surely education to the masses, particularly this young generation, better begin. It’s too late for my son.

  • Ron,
    For anyone that recognizes my posts to various MIA articles since joining this community after the horrific death of my 25 y/o beautiful, 6’4″ son, 3o months ago, I have strongly associated cannabis and psychosis together. ( I joined MIA after finding RW’s book Anatomy…Epidemic following my son s death when I finally found answers to the hell my son suffered with the MH wastelands for the 27 months once my son, overnight, descended into altered thinking, admitting he had been using cannabis which he believed- like pretty all of society especially this young generation- it was ” harmless”, ” just a herb”). Do I think my son was hit with the perfect storm of adversity (leading him to use cannabis ) prior to his first loss of reality? Yes! Do I believe, for his young brain, cannabis triggered two ‘episodes’ of psychosis ( defined in his medical records) twice, 18 months apart,both times hosp in two different psych facilities , both times his toxicology report (+) for THC. Absolutely!! Did any p-doc accept the research I found re:cannabis and psychosis? NOPE- just label, medicate into a drugged, stuporous state, brainwash, stigmatize ” mentally ill for life, bipolar for life”. I challenged the “experts” upon my son’s 2nd ‘ episode’ how can his symptoms abate, almost exactly as the same time period: 10 wks when his brain to returned to ” normal”. These ” experts” only lectured ” accept your son is mentally ill”. Why once he returned to his ” normal” mental health did ALL bizarre behavior disappear I asked them? Who knew marijuana has been so altered genetically & cultivated hydroponically from the hippie days? Did my son know how potent the strain of cannabis he had used? Did he, and his social group, know today’s cannabis has so much THC ( the mind-altering substance) and so less CBD ( supposedly the anti-psychotic property) : of course not!!!! To label a young man, so accomplished, so loved, with such a charismatic way with a lifelong MI, instead of IDENTIFY how cannabis is negatively affecting SOME young, developing brains ( ESP < 25):CRIMINAL!!!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/06/23/cannabis-addiction-record-high-children_n_5520799.html. " 1 in 6 teens who use cannabis become addicted and have 7 X rate of psychotic 'episodes' for "skunk" (strong cannabis strains of THC) users" . Just released from the UK.

  • When I heard about this disgusting violation of some people’s psyche on FB, it was repulsive enough. Since I value my privacy I intentionally never joined Facebook, and advised caution with my two sons, who were teens, when the FB craze began. I shared with them, I believed FB was just another social experiment and their generation, especially, were the guinea pigs.

    My oldest son’s girlfriend who he fell hard for, and ultimately married, just couldn’t get enough of FB as it grew exponentially in popularity. She posted their dating, then engagement and of course wedding pics.

    Sadly, as my son’s life hit the perfect storm of adversity, including two episodes of altered reality, he moved 4 1/2 hours away “to start anew and heal” from all he was dealt so quickly in what should have been the prime of his life. We, his parents ( especially his father) visited often. After our son’s unforeseen, and horrific suicide, 7 months later, we returned 6 weeks later to look at his cell messages, and go thru his computer. Yes, our son, living isolated, was unable to find a job during the recession, though he was skilled and licensed in a trade. After my son’s memorial, neighbor twin young women, who were friends of my son and his wife, told us they “unfriended” her over the holidays, 2011, as they saw FB pics she had been flaunting of her new lover who had replaced my son ( their divorce was not yet final).

    Imagine, my son was looking at those pics on FB, multiple times a day, and us, not realizing how deep in depression he was over all he had lost. The month my son so tragically took his life: Jan, 2012. As I read this story and see the month FB manipulated certain people’s feeds, I want to vomit. I pray my son was not one of the chosen FB ” victims”. This is so grotesque. I can hardly stomach how society is decaying.

  • I hope your most brilliant piece gets into the hands of every human being who cares about the travesties of emotional injustice. The saddest realization for me almost 30 months after the death, by suicide of my 25 y/o son, is his death, absolutely, was linked to the tainted, broken ” system” of MH treatment in America. My deepest regret on the night, Oct’09, his mind slipped into an altered reality which we, his parents, desperately believed the psych hosp was the place he needed since he confessed he had been using cannabis. Not only did the MH paradigm of care ignore, refute my son’s toxicology report which confirmed THC was AND is causing devastating psych disorders ( the data published last week by Public Health England) confirms 7 X rate of psychotic ‘episodes’ for those using ” skunk” ( the high potency strains of cannabis) now commonly used, my son was branded with a lifelong MI label. Just as you’ve written, people who were dx with manic-depression ( now the ubiquitous ” bipolar” label) had usually just one ‘episode’, and even others who had several ‘episodes’ recovered and still led functional lives. The difference b/t the dx writing in 1969 to 2009 and on- a twisted, morbid slant on the psyche of the human mind. Make an ‘ episode’ or two of psychosis, triggered by a mind-altering drug (in some people), convince them recreational drug use was irrelevant as a trigger, stigmatize with a permanent, progressive, deteriorating MI..and hopelessness permeates…and some, like my son, exit this psychiatric wasteland. I profoundly regret leading my son into this system, had I only known of alternatives, in CA, that night where my son should have been able to receive compassionate support, identify stressors in his young life, education what triggers psychosis and above all infuse- HOPE- how he would recover fully. We must, together, in unity, spread the word and bring about change. Thank you Rev. Epperson.

  • I’m the first to acknowledge my ignorance about Psychiatry and “the system” until I got tangled up in it with my son’s descent, overnight, into altered reality that frightened me beyond anything I’ve ever dealt with. I’ve worked in health care (hold two degrees and professional titles) and have always lived the creed “treat every patient the way I would want my family or myself treated”. As health today in America morphs sharply, with some good and some not-so-good ramifications, I will not change how I work with patients.
    Along this line, since my son’s entry into a locked hosp, Oct ’09 I encountered the worst of health care- mental health- and the worst of professionals and staff ( I will agree some of the nurses tried but their ignorance at the time remains glaring to me). Having never been exposed to the world of mental health, how could my family and I know “the MH system” is not set up to be compassionate, caring or even truthful? I refused to accept “the system” was universal in its failure to care or to bother identifying and exploring what could cause a young brain to go so awry, until my son’s second altered reality change, overnight, once again 18 months later. This time still believing in “the system” my son with incredible reluctance (for obvious reasons after the hell he endured the first time) accepted his family persuading him to enter a different psych hosp for the drug rehab I pre-arranged the day before (with complete medical/mental history shared). How can it be that “the system” ended up coercing my son into a locked unit, where he was listed per his medical records as “voluntary” while he was forcibly drugged until he no longer recognized us and was never given a day of the rehab in spite of his insurance and the $12,500 we paid this hosp with their word he was going their drug rehab program? How is it even legal in CA to evade a person’s civil rights >72 hrs of being locked up? (by manipulating the fact my son voluntarily entered this hospital believing as we told him for drug rehab ONLY yet once coerced inside how can this be considered “voluntary”with all the attempts he made to escape?)
    I have learned so much since these atrocities happened because than I blindly, naively, ignorantly cowered to “the system” and these so-called professionals/p-doc who cared less about a young person who HAD there been a Soteria House, or Open Dialogue (or even been exposed to the kind bloggers who have shared personal stories seeing how so many young people who do recreational substances get pulled into down “the bipolar road” of no return) his treatment could have been healing and possibly- enlightening about how trauma plays a significant role and recreational drugs act as a trigger to create psychosis.
    But I don’t hold everyone in “the system” responsible? I know because I have since met others and know there are psychologists and believe it or not a few p-docs who truly care and want to work to change “the system”. My son’s psychologist (who I know my son told me was ” a good guy”) still contacts me 29 months later after my son’s suicide. He has terrible remorse (and like those closest to my son) plays that haunting game “what if” ” ” I should have” “why didn’t I”…. but my son, in his “good-bye note” took all the responsibility for “his choices”, period. It just that no one wins in this game when life ends so tragically.
    I sure wish we could all try to be a bit kinder, a bit more accepting like when MIA authors compose articles to review. (I may not relate or agree with what everyone writes or blogs, and vice versa, but I think we, as a society, can ask more of ourselves. I’m not shrinking in my desire to expose “the system” as I go forth and I stand in solidarity with all those that have been so egregiously harmed. I just want to try to make this world a better place, especially in mental health, because the ideas, the programs, the vision I read in MIA gives me so much hope. )

  • Hi Sera- your posts are always thoughtful, as well as insiteful. Seeing one of your worst fears- losing your ” child” is now the fate my family and I live after losing my 25 y/o son, almost 29 months ago to suicide. I sadly have been thrust into ” the system” of MH which for the 27 months my son was entangled in this web is a completely broken one (imo). The education I’ve received includes everything written at MIA, whether I agree or not. I have since longed for the peer respite communities like Afiya, where you are affiliated, when my son was caught up in ” the system”. Sadly, there was no such alternative program that my husband and I were aware of the hellish night Oct ’09 when our then 23 y/o son, literally overnight, morphed into someone with delusional thoughts, while experiencing a nervous breakdown ( truly the best description though no longer correct jargon). I regret bringing my son to a psych hosp, though we were beyond overwhelmed not knowing how to help our son get his always healthy, charismatic, sharp, dynamic personality back to “normal”. After we were told to leave, my son willlingly accompanied the staff person not realizing the hell he would meet on the other side of the locked ward- where he tried to escape from the fear realizing he was going to be forcibly drugged which he resisted so was beaten to a pulp by the night staff, twice over the next 36 hours until we were finally allowed to visit. That was my son’s introduction to ” the system” in a CA psych hospital, by the sea. I’ve often thought why was there just a–hole p-docs, instead of ones who seem genuinely compassionate and aren’t afraid to think outside the box, to accept any brain can experience a psychosis NOS, and heal, like Sandy Steingard, or the p-doc I found last year ( out-of- state) when I sought an unbias opinion of my son’s ” treatment” since I obtained his medical records at the second ( and final) psych hosp 18 months later when my son had a second reality break, both times testing (+) for THC. It didn’t matter, to ” the system” that my son had tested for a recreational drug, twice, ( and IF the hosp and treating p-doc had done their job, completely, and honestly, ( IMO) the somatic cause of his altered reality was due to DRUGS, not the ubitiquous ” bipolar” label he was assigned. Both times my son emerged back to ” normal” but being stigmatized ” bipolar for life” and being left in a ” drugged stupor” gaining 55 lbs in the first 4 months he was released because he agreed to accept the terms ” meds for life”. A daily reminder for the rest of his life was the stretch marks all over his abdomen from the rapid wt gain from the neuroleptics, indeed, branded MI by ” the system”. Did any professional, either hosp, ask ” what happened to you” – or inquired who he was for the first 23 and 24 yrs of his life that had they cared would have known ny son was the kind of trusted friend, as he was respected employee, and witty, beloved son whom any parent would be so proud to celebrate. Ultimately, my son chose to wean off these toxic meds which ( IMO) did nothing but create havoc with his body physically, but the damage was done. How does a young man, full of pride, survive because the stigma of MI is sooo isolating? Why does society instantly distance themselves from people who emerge traumatized after being a caged prisoner? I feel such guilt not understanding what my son was subjected to, and not telling him that I would never , ever again believe ” the system” was compassionate, caring or healing.
    So, Sera, we know the world we’re living in is going to continue to be full of uncertainty. The community you work in will find additional safeguards, but I ask you to stay the course. I will always believe had my son been evaluated, counseled and supported by a peer respite community, unlike the atrocities inside two different locked CA psych hospitals an hour apart geographically, he wouldn’t have been haunted by the labeling he received and lived, in fear, which he told his therapist ( and I was told after my son died) ” I will never go back inside one of those facilities again”.

  • Thank you Dr Leitner for what you have articulated so clearly. I really appreciate reading your suggestion that grieving last at least two years. I lost my 25 y/o beautiful first-born son 28 months ago in the most horrific way and only recently do I believe my family and I are starting to really recover and go forth with our lives in the way we always used to. My son left a “good-bye” note asking for our forgiveness and taking only responsibility for “his choices”. He wanted us to march onward and upward.

    Once I gathered myself together, I began to educate myself about just what the hell happened. I stumbled upon RW’s masterpiece “Anatomy of an Epidemic” and have soared in my knowledge base since then with the very caring MIA community helping me further my learning. When I started to truly comprehend the psychiatric bible, the DSM IV, at that time which in just 27 months took my son from the life as a whole, charismatic, bigger-than-life 6’4″ successful young man and once in “the system” using the DSM guidelines reduced him to a lifetime of MI, and his ego and incredible pride could not withstand such a heavy burden. And as I later realized the interpretation since he tested (+) for cannabis per the DSM exclusions should have guided my son to realize how recreational drugs can, and do, change some brains. Instead of the truth, as well as uncovering any traumas he was dealt, it was all about labeling him mentally ill for life. How dare “the system” do that to anyone, especially a young man who had thrived for 23 years.

    At least I learned before the adoption of the newest version, the DSM V, where I, too, would now be labeled with a MI just because I still grieve past two weeks of losing my son. The audacity of our current MH system overwhelms me. I thank you for your clarity, your honesty and for the truth you share. Please keep educating society post retirement, and let us all try to make changes, in mass, to this broken, greed-driven warped injustice against humanity in the U.S. which is called Psychiatry.

  • Dorothy- you inspire me and I appreciate the lengths you have gone to in search of the truth about your records which hide most of the true abuses you suffered. And I appreciate the MIA bloggers who have added their own horrors they endured and the attempts to obtain answers what happened to each of them during their psych hosp.
    I now have my son’s medical records, which it took me almost 9 months to comb through- mainly as I hit an emotional wall reviewing them, all 177 pgs during my son’s 13 days of locked hell (2011) when he was coerced to the locked unit, and remained against his will ( but the records chart “voluntary” admission). No, my son had returned to using a recreational drug, cannabis, and for his brain it altered his reality, as this same substance did 18 months earlier, both times testing (+) on his toxiciology report which was ignored and instead the ubiquitous ” bipolar” label was assigned. Instead of the pre-arranged drug rehab program I set up for my son, the day before he, oh, so, reluctantly agreed to accept ( as my son was beaten upon adm at the first psych hosp in 2009 upon entering and my son actually acknowledged this horrific experience which was recorded on his Admission Eval in his medical records). Despite the thousands we paid this hosp for my son to receive drug rehab ( along with his PPO ins) he was deceptively moved to the locked unit. The lies, flagrant mistruths, excessive drugging with my son actually begging repeatedly to stop the toxic drugging,and he tried multiple ways to escape, the records read ” voluntary” stay in a locked unit in CA( completely violated my son’s right to have a court hearing but how cagey these facilities will go around a person’s civil rights). The numerous documented charting of my son begging to be moved back to where he started, in the unlocked unit, my son was put into a drugged, stuporous state and again I must thank the staff for some accurate documentation. Just we, his parents, had no way to know why our son was so far worse, day after day, and we continued to be told he was going to move to the drug rehab, the ONLY reason he entered.
    My professional background helped me soldier thru reviewing my son’s records, and I have the facts which I hope to expose soon. The lawyers for this psych hosp/rehab refused to release my son’s records until his statue of limitations passed, last summer, but I believe I can go around the statue because we were defrauded. BUT nothing will being my beautiful 25 y/o son back. For a young man, who was full of life, always an upbeat, healthy young guy, but who wasn’t given the drug educ that even ” recreational substances can and do alter MH- just brainwashed, massively drugged, labeled ” MI”, warehoused and then classically ” dumped” once his insurance refused further authorization. No attempt from the ” experts” to uncover why a young man had used substances, nor ask ” what happened to you” during the inhumane time he was basically a hostage. How psychiatry gets away with this boggles my mind. It’s really just the 21st century version of the humiliating, abusive psychiatric practices you endured decades ago.

    When I put away my son’s records, and just reflected on the true HELL in the 27 months he got tangled up with psychiatry, in all I now know, but did not at the time I ask myself how can ” this system” continue and be allowed to get away with the eradication of the human psyche?
    How could an always thriving, very social, highly functional, married 23 y/o young man end up taking his life 27 months later because the facts about substance use were denied him- ” the system” preferred, and was rewarded monetarily by making my son ” mentally ill for life” ? Despite my son’s MH recovered after, each of the two breaks from reality he suffered, shifting thru his medical records, reading word by word I will never be able to wrap my head around such a despicable, egregious system of ” care”. Where was the HOPE any young functioning member of society should have received? And I assume this Ivy League educ p-doc did not expect someone to sort thru the medical records and categorically find the outright lies, conflicting truths between the p-doc, the staff, and two other M.D.s who had to see my son while locked up?

    Thank you for your bravery, and for finding a way to make a statement against this evil MH paradigm of care. I hope I can bring some justice as well to my son and keep asking society to stop these abuses. Why I believe the only way to bring about change is to expose these practices and challenge the logic why ” humane” treatment, care and support isn’t reality, if one cares to listen.

  • Hi Laura,
    When you wrote the MIA article “On the Urge to Take my Life, and My Decision to Take it Back From the ‘Mental Health’ System Instead ” Sept, 2013 you promised to remember my 25 y/o son, Shane’s spirit and memory as he sadly ended his young life, 1-13-12 . Shane exited from the joyful life for 23 years he always epitomized because the last of his young life – 27 months- he was sucked into the psychiatric wasteland of brainwashing “bipolar for life, mentally ill for life”- despite he tested( + ) for a recreational drug on his toxicology report the two times his brain suddenly started losing reality. Shane was denied the truth that bipolar is just the latest fad of psycho-babble. We, his family, were denied the facts and truth that the recreational drug altered his brain, and that, as he recovered his mental health again (both times he did) that he wasn’t “mentally ill for life” but the goal of psychiatry is to ensnare more prey.

    In solidarity, with you and all the other MIA community who are joining together at the APA meeting, I am with you. Our voices must be heard!!! Next year, I will come and mount a sign with my beautiful son’s picture and ask why the truth denied him???????? Blessings to each of you, Laura.

  • Lauren.
    I definitely hope the comment I sent to the live stream link you provided went thru? I don’t use FB ( personal reason). But most definitely want the horror of my 25 y/o son’s tragic death, 1-13-12, directly related to the psychiatric wasteland he was sucked into 27 months before his untimely death, to be a part of this loud protest. I so appreciate the protest you all are assembling at the annual mtg if the APA. I live on the West Coast, but am with you in solidarity.

  • Bravo to Vicki Dyer, program director of this dementia ward. What she has accomplished by eliminating the anti-psychotic meds most all pts with dementia end up being prescribed is so hopeful, so heartwarming to read. This director obviously treats the patients in her unit like she would want her own family and friends treated- with dignity, compassion and respect. Just reading the various therapies and outings these patients receive warms my heart. I love the way she weighs how each person should be able to feel the work they do daily makes a positive difference in someone’s life. Truly, this story is absolutely uplifting!

  • Over the years reading Steve Looez’s column in the Times, I quickly identified the continuing story about Mr. Ayers. I was saddened to read his situation about the courts obtaining conservatorship to force medication, exactly what Mr. Ayers has rejected for many yrs. I, too, wondered if only Mr. Ayers had been exposed to alternative therapies, such as Hearing Voices network…

    I sadly made the association once I read who the treating p-doc is for Mr. Ayers and who, as well, is testifying with his Ivy League credentials as why his patient should have IOT. Although the hospital remains anonymous in Lopez’s column, absolutely the treating p-doc is the same pompous, arrogant jerk who was my son’s admitting p-doc. I felt nauseous reading how Dr Askins gives his pts ” dignity” – anything but…My son told me each morning this Ivy League educ p-doc made hosp rounds he spent all of a minute talking to my son, and his other pts in the locked unit. And I have my son’s medical records, this supposedly caring p-doc just parrots the comments written by the staff daily. My son never received the drug rehab he only entered this hosp for, while Dr Askins lied repeatedly to me that my son would be moved to the drug rehab program we paid thousands for him to receive but he never did. This hosp and p-doc only know how to massively drug, warehouse, label, provide worthless services, and defraud the thousands we were charged beside my son’s PPO ins, until he was ” dumped” by this hosp. IF Dr Askins believes he helps his pts why was my son massively drugged with multiple neuroleptics for almost two weeks, until he no longer could speak other than with ” garbled, slurred speech” (I have my son’s medical records)? Yet, a week after being released, told to stop all neuroleptics ” doesn’t need any” ??? Each out-pt visit, wait 1-1 1/2 hrs to be seen in Dr Askins’ out-pt office, then given 5 mins or less time at each appt. The last out-pt appt my son says Dr Askins never engaged him, never looked up from his computer only hurled questions about medications. My son drove home and exclaimed ” Dr Askins has no concern for me. He never lifted his head away from his computer-only cared about medication side effects. He couldn’t care less about what happened to me”. So, really Dr Askins is this the respect and dignity you think you provide your patient’s ????????

    No wonder Mr. Ayers knows why he’s fighting to not get trapped in the psychiatric wasteland he once knew… Perhaps, Steve Lopez will investigate the alternative programs mentioned so Mr. Ayers might have a chance to keep playing his beloved violin, and find hope for his future.

  • Truly, inspirational, the way you express the vision for the country I envision for my surviving 22 year old son, and the family I hope he may be blessed with one day. I wish you could present this exact letter at the next hearing on HR 3717. I have so much admiration for you, Leah Harris, and so many others fighting to change the current psychiatric wasteland ( to borrow Copycat’s phrase). Thank you Iden.

  • Tina,
    Thank you so very much for the incredible work you continue to do. I’m sharing this article with the attorney representing the upcoming trial for the employee ” whistleblower” against the hospital my son entered in 2011.
    My 24 y/o son was kept against his will, in a locked psych ward, in a Los Angeles psych hospital/ drug rehab. Once my son’s medical records were subpoenaed ( NOT released by the hospital attorneys until AFTER the statue of limitations expired) I found out the truth. My son was assessed, and cleared to enter for the drug rehab program pre-arranged by me, the day before his admission. I had to provide my son’s PPO insurance and since the hospital was ” out of network” we, his parents, had to pay $12, 500 for our son to be admitted for drug rehab. Less than 24 hrs later, he was coerced to their locked unit, drugged mercilessly with multiple neuroleptics…. while no info from the p-doc was communicated ( despite the HIPAA waiver signed) until I stormed the Admin to pressure a returned phone call to me. LIES- only from the p-doc the two times, only, he made contact. The records list my son as ” voluntary” adm despite he pulled the fire alarm , attempted to push the exit doors, numerous statements recorded in his medical records by the staff of my son begging to be released, that he won’t survive what’s being done to him….My son was placed on AWOL, and elopement precautions- while his stay remains ” voluntary” the staff telling us our son was so sick. The p-doc promised to transfer him within 48 hrs to drug rehab, NEVER occurred. My son was ” dumped” on the 13th day, once ins refused further stay. The same p- doc, a week after my son was discharged, in the out-pt office visit took my son off ALL neuroleptics!” Doesn’t need them” of course not once out of that locked hellhole, my son began to slowly regain his mental clarity, once NOT drugged with toxic psychotropics!
    I’m not a lawyer, but I know my son’s basic civil and human rights were flagrantly abused! I will continue to seek justice for my son as I fully believe violations occurred daily, especially after combing thru his medical records and see the unscrupulous, egregious violations done to my son, while lying to his family the entire hospitalization. My son’s death 7 months after discharge, I absolutely hold this MH ” business” fully culpable.
    Again, thank you for your heroic efforts. I could easily retreat, bury my head in the sand, but the TRUTH must be exposed. I only want to continue living in the U.S.A. if we abolish psychiatric force.

  • Really, oldhead, as more states seem to be leaning toward legalizing pot for recreational use shouldn’t the facts be known that the genetically, engineered marijuana seed ( grown hydroponically) now produces strains of the cannabis plant with particularly high levels of THC. Cannabis today is not the cannabis of the Woodstock era.

    It’s reported that in Colorado (which just became the 1st state to legalize pot for recreational use) cannabis-related vehicle fatalities climbed from 7.6% in ’06 to 17.3% in ’11 ( per CDOT stats). And according to a Nat’l Survey on Drug Use & Health, 10-15% of high school kids are dependent on drugs, mainly marijuana. ( My son only began experimenting with cannabis after high school, yet MH changes to his brain resulted in two breaks from reality, 18 months apart.)

    The most current stats for national estimates on drug-related visits to emergency depts (ED) are from DAWN ( Drug Abuse Warning Network) managed by SAMHSA- 2009- which analyzes all types of drugs used:

    Illicit Drugs-
    In 2009, DAWN estimates that almost one million visits to EDs involved an illicit drug, either alone or in combination with other types of drugs.

    cocaine was involved in 422,896 ED visits
    MARIJUANA was involved in 376,467 ED visits
    heroin was involved in 213,118 ED visits
    stimulants, including amphetamines and methamphetamine, were involved in 93,562 ED visits
    other illicit drugs—such as PCP, ecstasy, and GHB—were involved much less frequently than any of the drug types mentioned above.

  • How than did Amanda Bynes skirt a psychiatric label and without lifelong drugs? I’m dumbfounded since my son’s psych hosp mirrors the treatment facilities where she was locked up since we live geographical near her parents. During my son’s locked psych stay the “experts” denied cannabis (today’s THC is 300% more than the 1960s) was a trigger in spite of me waving the cannabis-psychosis link to some young brains. Nor did my son receive the drug rehab we paid thousands for since the hosp was “out of network” yet my son’s medical records initial eval checked off need for “substance abuse ” treatment. Psychiatric mills are to label ’em, massively drug ’em, warehouse ’em, then dump ’em before their insurance runs out. This is psychiatry’s $$$ “game” yet the end result is some people die, either prematurely from the effects of multiple psych revolving door admissions and debilitating meds, or by sheer hopelessness.

    When my than 23 y/o son was using cannabis ’09 & ’11 (? to escape stress, ? for pain relief from his lengthy knee surgery/rehab – who knows) almost overnight his mind started to spin out. But not having the knowledge until after his death— that root causes for psychosis need to be examined. http://bestpractice.bmj.com/best-practice/monograph/1066/diagnosis.html (summation: a careful med hx should be taken to identify possible organic causes of psychosis including: recreational drug use (ETOH, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines…). Since my son and his family didn’t have this knowledge how is it my son’s toxicology report was ignored? Why wasn’t he given that 6 month period before he was boxed into an overnight incurable, “MI for life, meds for life” with repeat “episodes” predicted? How would the unsuspecting person who gets caught in the psychiatric wasteland (to use Copycat’s wording) know the “experts” intentionally lied because MH is a “business”. How is this fathomable?

    Did Ms. Bynes get preferential expertise because she is a former Disney star? Did the p-docs bring her in on their well kept secret “yes, cannabis, can and does alter the MH of certain, vulnerable brains”. I hope she and her parents will help society now, as someone suggested, set the story straight. IF cannabis altered her brain, as it did my son, enough to cause symptoms which MIMIC bipolar (or some spectrum of psychosis) yet with cessation of cannabis (and any other chemical substances) the brain can recover. This was NOT the treatment my son received – just reinforced the hopelessness of his mental status. Everything in my son’s world collapsed during and shortly after his second psych hosp in a locked ward yet everyone who knew my son’s bigger-than-life personality still can not fathom he could take his life? I will never fully comprehend his death but I know one day the truth will come out. Sickeningly, the evils of the psychiatry appear to directly culpable.

    I want the psych industry to know it can’t have double standards for its celebrity stars vs the average citizen. My conclusion echoes Copycat’s – better to have an altered mental state in some 3rd world country than in the U.S.

  • Absolutely, agree, this article really addresses the scam of American psychiatry. Perhaps, such an intellectual dissection of why the psychiatric ” industry” in America has become this twisted could be helpful in persuading the NAMI groups to begin to realize the truth?

    In 2009, when my husband and I brought our then 23 y/0 son to a psych hosp the night his mind, literally within a few hours, spun into another orbit ( as he he confessed to using cannabis + later admitted to some other substances) we absolutely believed our son would be professionally evaluated, assessed, compassionately treated as well as any substances that would be identified on the toxicology report clearly explained how it altered our sons’s mental state. Having myself worked in health care for > 3 decades, wouldn’t I have known the psych “industry” is the evil paradigm of care? Of course not, exactly because Americans have been duped by the ” busi of the psychiatric industry” and only learned by watching in sheer horror how callously, cruelly, and without a shred of compassion or dignity what our son was subjected by this “industry” over the next 10 days though family and friends supported our son during the nightly 2 hr visitation window allowed.

    We resisted the suggestion to join the NAMI group that met at this psych hosp because I absolutely would not accept the quickly assigned dx ” bp” by the hosp, as I waved research about cannabis and psychosis” quickly refuted by the P-doc as ” irrelevant”. I considered joining the ranks of CCHR because their stance on “MI” made great, logical sense but their unfortunate cultish association led me away. I didn’t find MIA until after our son died. I literally stumbled onto RW’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, which is how I have come to understand the psychiatric tornado that swept my son, and his family up, ultimately, desecrating our lives.

    WHY wasn’t there a MIA group that greeted us, educated us, and I believe would have helped save our son?? This is IMO where the MIA “movement” needs to head.

  • @madmom- been thinking and saying the same thing ” maybe it’s time to escape to another country”. How in America can a ” voice vote” in the House when most of its members had left for the day be quietly passed, bringing this horrid MH amendment to the HR 4302 bill which will now expand IOC . How is it even legal an amendment (such as this highly controversial MH program) in the House bill can be squeaked through with NO debate and NO roll call vote???????? And the Senate knowing how clandestinely this MH amendment to the HR 4302 bill was snuck in by the House ” voice vote” , ignored the obvious, voted overwhelmingly by the Democrats( which I happen to be registered as) likely more to quick fix its Medicare reimbursement issues for physicians. So, the ” doc fix” temporary solution, once again, has passed quelling the fires from the American docs outraged each yr Medicare threatens to cut MC reimbursement. Instead of a permanent solution to this ongoing MC reimbursement fee problem which was being negotiated quite well by both parties, in sneaks the HR 4302 bill qnd this very controversial amendment which now will likely have devastating consequences for anyone with serious MH issues. I’m going to call Senators Boxer & Feinstein again, this time to protest their ” yea” vote.

    THIS is American politics, at it’s worst.

    It’s really scary how little democracy means in this country to the elected officials we all voted into office.

  • Leah- having walked in Sen. Deeds’ shoes to some degree as my beautiful son @age 23 suffered a “mental breakdown” 2 months after marrying his longtime girlfriend. My son was dealing with too many stressors but unbeknownst to his parents (who were with him as his mind spun into another orbit literally out of nowhere) he admitted to us that hellish night (both my husband and I who despite our professional careers have never dealt with anyone whose mind was unraveling before us, and considering it was our first-born son who we have cherished, protected, nurtured and loved since we found out we were going to parents in 1986 it was the most horrific night of our lives) he had been using “recreational” drugs including cannabis.
    We were so desperate to find help and knowing nothing about the business of psychiatry, turned to a psych hospital to help our son. And I read Sen. Deeds and his family followed the normal path, as well, believing, like us, this was the road to get our “children” back to normal. Sadly, like my family, and Senator Deeds- nothing “normal” from the time our son walked voluntarily with the hosp staff into a locked unit transpired. But the damage from being brainwashed “mentally ill for life” instead of the TRUTH his brain had spun out from “recreational” drugs was discussed- just warehouse, label, massively drug with neuroleptics until our son was lisping, drooling and completely psychotic.

    As I have taken on this crusade, to educate myself about the truth behind my son’s two breaks from reality, 18 months apart, sadly we took our son both times to a psych hosp (the latter ONLY for drug rehab but my son was tricked into their locked unit where he was never given any rehab, just massively drugged again with neuroleptics…, warehoused, and then “dumped” after 13 dys the hosp took the thousands we were charged the day before adm believing our son was going to get the drug rehab promised). I believe every hosp in America IF they practiced the BMJ’s Best Practice Assessment of Psychosis guidelines, Gus Deeds ( the senator’s son) and my son (and countless other young people who naively believe “recreational” drugs are “innocuous”) would get the CORRECT DX why their brains went into psychosis. Imagine if both young men had been educated they DID NOT have an incurable, lifelong MI!!!. This is the WAKE UP society, I believe, needs to know. http://psychoticdisorders.wordpress.com/bmj-best-practice-assessment-of-psychosis/
    “Organic causes must be considered and excluded before the psychosis is attributed to a primary psychotic disorder. The MOST common cause of acute psychosis is a drug toxicity from recreational, prescription, or OTC drugs. Recreational drugs including: urine testings is required on all pts to screen for amphetamines, cocaine, cannabis, and benzodiazepines.

    Both hosp adm, my son tested + for THC (in cannabis) but both adm the p-docs told him, and his family, “no correlation”. LIARS!!! The path Senator Deeds, and my family, took believing our sons were going to be compassionately assessed, and supported, back to their always, normal, healthy way of living did not happen. The nightmare of being forever labeled with an incurable lifelong MI (some spectrum of psychosis- especially now the ubiquitous “bipolar” dx) IMO led my son and Gus Deeds’ to their demise.

    I would like to ask Senator Deeds to not rationalize the horror he has lived through until he thoroughly examines the root cause of Gus’s breakdowns. I believe, as I have educated myself about the business of psychiatry, and why the truth was denied by son and his family, we must work together. The IOC/AOT solutions are NOT the right direction. I beg Senator Deeds to reach out to SAMHSA alternative programs and learn really how Gus could have been saved.

  • Maria…excellent piece (as always)!

    Re: above regarding the 3-15-14 article in The Canadian Press “Canadian hospitals stretched as self- harming teens seek help” the education to our young generation is sooooo woefully missing!!! Yes, teens and young adults are using today’s high-octane cannabis at record levels which unbeknownst to them ( and most adults!!) are altering their MH, as well as you so sadly are more than aware how SSRIs ( given out like candy by the medical industry) also alter their young brains adversely.
    “Dr. Kathleen Pajer, chief of psychiatry at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, says she has watched the number of kids with self-inflicted wounds or suicidal thoughts rise steadily in her ER and colleagues in Canada and the U.S. are seeing the same trend.

    ‘They kind of go from pretty average, functioning kids to suddenly they can’t cope. They can’t manage. They’re depressed. They’re presenting to emergency departments, hopeless.’
    – Dr. Hazen Gandy, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
    “A lot of kids don’t really meet the criteria for these disorders,” she said. “Instead, they seem to be suffering an existential crisis that is sort of, ‘I’m empty, I don’t know who I am, I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t have any grounding and I don’t know how to manage my negative feelings.”‘

    She suspects there are many factors that may drive teens to hurt themselves. Families are more fragmented, kids in her area appear to be smoking more marijuana and many don’t have the skills to deal with stress, conflict or loss, she says.”
    America and Canada could so benefit from the CASPER Foundation you helped established in Toran’s memory. The two models one that shows the causes of suicide and the other that protects against suicide. The pie chart model re: psychotropic drugs would be so invaluable as society truly is in the dark as how DRUGS ( prescription, legal or illicit) are harming, and sometimes fatally destroying our beautiful “children”. In my beautiful son’s memory, I beg the public to get informed.

  • Andrew,
    You may never know how persuasive this article has been for me. I’ve chosen to review my son’s hosp records almost 3 yrs ago, in a locked unit, in spite of the pre-arranged drug rehab progrm my son agreed to enter there that I, personally, set up along with thousands of dollars upfront because this facility was ” out of network” from my son’s PPO ins. If anyone could imagine the horror of reading why and how my son was instead tricked to go inside their locked unit, then psychologically and medically tortured inside this unit. And now knowing he ended his life, and finally finding the pieces to the puzzle of what he endured at the hands of this supposedly well-regarded facility that he ONLY entered for drug rehab (which was denied him).

    Your message ” What Will Cause Psychiaty To Change?” I ask myself daily. I hope in my deceased son’s case, in the coming months, I will prove the Hippocratic Oath ” do no harm” the adm p-doc at this facility so outrageously violated by over-medicating my son into a drugged, stuporous state revealed by my son’s medical records and actual voice msgs he sent us while in this locked unit for almost 2 weeks. And the consequences from the muliple neuroleptics IMO triggered thoughts which are why the black box warning for ages 24 and < exist, compounded by the brainwashing he, and our family, were told we must accept that he had a severe MI. Instead of the TRUTH the "rcreational" drug my son tested + on his toxicology report had altered his sense of reality. Now, I've educated myself, I can not fathom how any facility can be legally allowed to assign a severe MI label when the DSMs own coding and criteria invalidates such a dx label when a person is under the influence of a drug substance, as my son's toxicology report clearly showed.

    I'm repeating blogger Ted's pearls of wisdom:
    "But the most important court is the court of public opinion. We have to go out there and show the general public that they are endangered by the power of psychiatry."

    Thanks, Andrew. I only hope I can expose how " the MH BUSINESS" contributed, if not fully, to my son's untimely and horrific death.

  • As I’ve repeated many times on this site, the articles such as this one, the many authors and all the MIA bloggers have educated me beyond. After the horrific death of my 25 y/o son over two yrs ago, I made a promise the night my husband and I drove up to where our son insisted he move away to hoping “to start anew” after all that life had thrown at him in a quick span of time, I would unearth every stone to find out what took this beautiful young man from us. A life that had always been filled with so much promise, a life rich with multiple friends, a wife, a successful career- most of it vanished overnight when a ” sea of stressors” hit my son. Only by stepping back and realizing how “NLEs” (neg life exp borrowed from Maria Bradshaw’s CASPER Foundation brochure) push young souls into escaping do I understand why my son chose to indulge in cannabis( + some other “recreational” substances) but THC was what showed up on his toxicology reports twice (over 18 months) when his mind drifted out of reality. I realize, too late, the coding criteria, per the DSM IV ( in 2009 and 2011) used should have invalidated the mood disorder assigned my son, twice. But not understanding the MH BUSINESS model which is just coerce into a locked unit, label, massively drug into a drug stuporous state, warehouse and then ” dump” once my son’s PPO ins refused further authorization, how would the public know? As I’ve combed thru my son’s medical records, despite he entered solely for the drug rehab program I researched, and only reluctantly with incredible persuasion by his family did he enter despite all arrangements set up myself with the Adm Coordinator ( including thousands of dollars upfront we handed over for this program) my son within 24 hrs was coerced into their locked unit.
    To blogger Ted-in CA- the records prove my son was never under any hold!! My son’s locked unit ” stay” is listed as “VOLUNTARY ” despite the documentation thru-out his stay he begs to return to the Open Unit that he entered with family beside him. My son (as I’ve read every page) begs them” I won’t survive what you’re doing to me” “call my mom she’ll know how to help me” yet each night we visited no-one helped us, and my son’s reality was gone. He hardly acknowledged us, as his mind which had begun to spin out before entering was now progressive inside those locked walls pushed into full blown psychosis, so badly even some of the other caged souls were afraid of our son. Each night we begged for answers, how could his mind be lost? Why was he placed in this locked when it was pre-arranged only for drug rehab? Why wasn’t the adm p-doc returning the multiple calls we made each day ( two of us were listed in my son’s HIPAA).
    How in CA can a young man who begs daily to stop being drugged by multiple neuroleptics, actually pulled the smoke alarm in attempt to escape- and the consequences he received make me want to expose this facility (a chain facility actually)- and hold every staff member, the p-doc, the admin, and CEO to the highest court in the land. What no one admitted to us each night we visited and saw how progressively worse our son was from how he entered ( plus I kept voice msgs he left on our landline which prove what he endured inside ) is that he could have walked out because there was NO hold, legally!!!! It was their dirty little secret, coerced into entering – they told my son this building had a pool table since the unit he began in was on such lush grounds – only it was the locked unit instead. Then started drugging him with these multiple neuroleptics, and a brain that was already under assault from the “recreational” drug he had been using threw him into full blown psychosis. And they kept my kid close to two weeks, locked up, drugged into a stuporous state until the ins refused further authorization. Never did they provide drug rehab, not even educating the family that had coughed up all the extra money, no discharge planning, no psychological treatment to unmask those “NLEs” my son was hit with. Just coerce, label, massively over-medicate, provide worthless services, convince instead of the truth- his mind spun out because the effects a drug w/psychoactive properties can do to certain, young brains- instead drill him, and his parents to accept this terrible, severe MI diagnosis!!!
    How can this be the U.S.? How can ” the system” allow facilities to get away with what my son’s medical records reveal ( and yes I have sought out professionals for counsel that see the distorted lies and egregious mistreatment my son was subjected to). There are more secrets revealed as I’ve read each pg that this facility purposely withheld knowing they were going to ” dump” my son out from their locked unit. The psychologist my son was under the care of before this hosp admission agrees had the truth these records speak be known it would have changed how we supported my son moving away, once the effects of all the chemicals his brain was assaulted with finally cleared and his mental health recovered. But surely, after all my son endured, and the records speak volumes to me, he felt hopeless and powerless by the brainwashing and intimidation he was subjected to. A family that believed drug rehab was the answer (yet it was never realized) from a facility allowed to cause such harm to a young human being. And a beautiful young man whom the world once was his oyster ( as his psychologist would say) exited 7 months after he was ” dumped” from a ruthless industry that engulfs its victims. Maybe, my son realized what I’ve finally admitted, this is a cruel, heartless society. I hope, in my son’s memory, I can make a difference by exposing the truth.

  • Method

    A three-year cohort study examined the rate of transition to psychotic disorder. Binary measures indexing ENVIRONMENTAL exposure (combining urban birth, CANNABIS USE, ethnicity and childhood trauma) and proxy genetic risk (high-risk sibling status) were used to model transition.

    SOME young brains can’t metabolize the THC in cannabis and over time, in some vulnerable young people, especially coupled with those who experience one of the multiple childhood traumas that can occur, it leads to a break from reality.

    Could educating society that these ” perfect” series of events can, and are, occurring to some young people globally? Let’s hope so because I’m reading already about many addiction clinics in CO having waiting lists for the scores of youth that have developed “marijuana dependency”. I pray these young people will truly be properly educated and supported to break away from this drug that took my son’s brain health, twice. “The system” denied this dependency exists in 2009 and 2011, each of the two times my son went into a psych hosp. And despite the hundreds of scientific studies that exist showing the assoc b/t cannabis and dependency, and in some young brains- psychosis. My son and his family were denied the FACTS. I will stand in the truth as I battle on to try to stop more young lives being wasted.

  • Conclusions

    Prior admissions with stimulant disorder may be a negative prognostic sign in first-episode psychosis. Drug use diagnoses at baseline may be a good prognostic sign IF THEY ARE IDENTIFIED AND CONTROLLED.

    This requires psych hospitals to accurately assess the patient’s actual drug history. Not just use the toxicology report as the gospel. But most p-docs do not want to thoroughly interview each pt, nor do they want to interview or contact the family members (despite the Hipaa waived so the designated family member(s) have that right). It’s instead rush to judge, label and medicate. Psych hospitals should employ Addiction Specialists to be on staff who have the expertise to help young patients to understand how even “recreational” use of substances ( for my son it was cannabis mostly) can alter their brain health . With the present paradigm of care, there is no interest in understanding the root cause(s) of the negative life experiences that lead people into substance use. So, there is no sincere interest in finding the trigger to the psychosis. These are the changes a compassionate MH system would do if true recovery and wellness were the goals. Sadly, IMO, having watched as a parent, the system needs a complete overhaul. Until then, more precious lives will be lost………………………………

  • I appreciate what the blogger “chernavsky” posted. Bob, since I stumbled upon your book Anatomy of an Epidemic… in 2012 shortly after the untimely and horrific death, by suicide, of my beautiful 25 y/o son, I haven’t looked back. As I told you when we met at the MH Tomorrow conf, in Texas, 2012 it is only upon reading your book about why society must rethink the conventional wisdom of tx of MI with drugs, the paradigm of MH care in America, I began to find answers.

    Having worked in health care for >30 yrs, it was only natural to take my then 23 y/o first-son in the midst of a complete breakdown, literally overnight, to a psych hosp assuming he would get the BEST care possible. Sadly, my expertise never dealt with MH, and from the night my husband and I persuaded, truly out of desperation, our son to enter that locked unit was the beginning of nothing less than a horror film. How many times on this webzine have I repeated our lives from that moment on until his death (other than about 18 months our son returned what we believed was his always healthy, thriving charismatic personality) 27 months later we lived in what seems to us like the sequel to the film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

    Your book and my readings, conferences, support grps…. have opened my eyes to this tainted, sick MH industry. Only because of this connection have I begun to unravel the mystery to comprehend what took my son’s life. After 5 months of hounding the regulatory agency `the watchdog- for the 2nd psych hosp (believing their lies and the thousands we coughed up supposedly for drug rehab instead coerced to their locked unit until he was “dumped” after 13 days) do I finally have a foot in the door. I plan to take the egregious violations and blatant lies and expose this industry!

    If I stand in my truth and let the FACTS speak for themselves, maybe each of us can improve this “system”, little by little. The story of Cindy Fisher and what she has done to bring awareness to the plight of her son, as she became aware there are alternative therapies that hopefully may eventually save her son, and I believed categorically would have saved my son, how can we stop trying to wake up society?

    I got a call this week from the psychologist whom my son was under the care of until my son chose to move away. He now reads MIA regularly. We both realize this greed focused industry largely contributed to the death of my son. As “chernavsky” writes a monthly donation to further this cause and support this foundation, Bob, can hopefully help make a difference. I so agree!

  • This is the exact reason I have kept after the regulatory agency in Los Angeles that is the watchdog for the MH industry. I simply would not accept their rationale that my family and I hire legal council (how many of us have this kind of money?) after the allegations I raised once my son’s medical records were subpoenaed (by an attorney representing the whistleblower employee at the psych hospital my 24 y/o son was taken to in 2011). No lawyer wants to take on a case unless they look like a “for sure” outcome especially in this type of industry, but the watchdog agency who oversees these hospitals’ practices and violations need to hold hospitals accountable. If these egregious type violations, such as holding a pt against their will, allow no due process, forcibly drug a person into a drugged, stuporous state (as was done with my son) and they end up so far worse than how they were admitted something has to change. It’s impossible to know the particulars in this case publicized but something looks awfully suspicious: a young man enters the hospital ends up being made ward of the state and assigned a MI disorder. Outrageous!

    These hospital policies, which seem to be only profit and revenue focused, need to be stopped. IF these hospitals won’t change, then we, in society, need to put pressure on the regulatory agencies to shut them down.

  • From the Boston Globe- March 10, 2010:

    Leslie Walker, executive director of Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services, called for an independent review of Messier’s death. She called his placement at Bridgewater State an example of the “CRIMINALIZATION of mental illness,’’ with inmates sent to the correctional facility because the mental health system has FAILED to help them.

    “This is a hospital,’’ she said. “He was someone who needed to be protected and cared for and made well enough to leave.’’

    So, nearly 4 years later and no prosecution of the guards most definitely responsible for the murder of this young man who was sent to the state mental prison though Josh was never charged with a crime!!!! The private hospital that Josh’s parents had placed him there completely failed to provide compassionate care, help get to the root cause( s) for his altered mental state which IMO just escalated Josh’s physical outbursts. So, Josh gets sent to this prison where the guards identify him as the man who likes to hit others. And those guards decided to teach Josh a lesson which led to this atrocious homicide. Absolutely, I’m asking why has the news media ( who cares if it’s the right or left reporting these human rights deaths) have not expanded this by now???

    To Josh’s parents, my deepest sympathy. I, too, just like Josh’s father COULD not watch the video showing his son’s murder. I stopped viewing it as it’s too horrifying. And I would like to echo the father’s words in one article: it’s impossible to live with the death of our “child” who were normal, healthy, vibrant functional young adults ( Josh was in his freshmen yr at the U of Dartmouth) when he had an alteration in his mental status which landed Josh in a psych unit. As my family and I know like this family, the diagnosis of psychosis, ending up labeled with either bipolar one, or some form of schizophrenia, in America, is a recipe for death.

    I wish society would realize ANY family can fall victim because of these horrific, stigmatizing “MI” labels, with the MH paradigm of psychotropic treatment once their teens, young adults are sucked into the vortex of this “system”. I don’t know Josh’s ” recreational” drug use history but I’d wager there was something with a chemical substance that initially triggered Josh’s severe emotional crises. It’s beyond time ALL of us unite, as Duane says, and I concur. ” Children are sacred. ” This MH ” system” is a tainted, broken industry. Whose ” child ” is next? I wish I knew how to ignite action because surely, across this country, there are so many parents beside the Messiers, and my family that are losing our most precious treasures, our ” children” everyday.

  • Of course, hospitals (psych hosp) that a person ends up in when their mind goes into an altered state and given the FEP diagnosis do tests for substances. But running a toxicology report and then ignoring the findings is exactly what happened to my son in 2009. The hosp deemed my son “just a recreational cannabis user” as if this drug has no mind-altering effects so the adverse effects were dismissed as though the report was negative. Would my than 23 y/o son in that frightened state, especially after being beaten by the night staff once he went voluntarily inside, admit he had taken any other substance prior to being admitted (which upon d/c 10 days later my son later opened up to several other substances he did use but were not picked up by the tox report because of shorter half life…)? No, he was too afraid of saying a word to the staff again for fear what else they would do to further harm him. So, my son was saddled with a MI in the blink of an eye, meds for life. Even though I believed my son’s “recreational” use of today’s pot was the trigger along with many stressors he had been dealt in a short time period (“negative life experiences” per the CASPER Foundation- Maria Bradshaw, NZ) no “expert” agreed, in fact preached “recreational” use is not addiction. Oh, so many blunders. My son suffered taking the toxic meds, eventually weaned off the meds, agreed to see a psychologist but wasn’t a big proponent of psychotherapy. Eventually he returned to the culture with his wife and friends of “recreational” substance use and 18 months after the FEP, suffered a second. It’s tough on a proud young male ego, who was known for his strong will and out-going personality to be struck twice with “psychosis”. As his world collapsed the second time, another 10 wks to come out of that altered state (same time frame as the first time), tox report once again + for “THC”. The second hosp was more damaging emotionally than the first as we, his family, sought only drug rehab because after all he returned to “substance use” but this bastardly facility just were licking their chops at another “psychotic” with PPO ins and parents willing to cough up thousands. Drug rehab that was promised before my son was admitted, never occurred. What that hospital in Pasadena, CA did was reprehensible. Not only did they not help him, but made him far, far worse then “dumped” him from a locked ward after 13 days held against his will (and the medical records support this). Why would “the system” not want to help a beautiful young man in the prime of his life and make the assoc how substances cause mental health changes to the young brain? Maybe, my son would have felt “hope” instead of “hopeless” upon discharge. Maybe, the outcome since we were kept in the dark that once inside his thoughts turned dark, suicidal and homicidal- never before had these thoughts which he kept a secret (and so did the locked unit) until 7 months after release, he took his life.

  • It’s sad times when the head of the NIMH concedes the flaws in the DSM system which includes the long-term outcome of people prescribed anti-psychotics. At least my son knew to wean off all the crap he was forced to take while locked away for 10 days during his FEP. 18 months later, returning to the same drug, cannabis, again he was hospitalized but this time the adm p-doc insisted my son stop the anti-psychotic soon after discharge. It didn’t matter his brain spun out the same amount of time like the first hosp, 18 months earlier. Of course, it was the way his brain went thru cannabis wdr (both times it took 10 weeks, with or without psychotropics to re-normalize his brain function). But instead of being upfront about the effects any drug that has psychoactive properties can do to some brains, it was just brainwash “MI forever”. How does taking away a young person’s hope for being “normal” again play into his death at age 25? I believe most in the MIA community know the answer. Any wonder why I seek accountability from the MH industry? The LEAST that Insel could do is to help direct funding into non-drug alternatives but that direction wouldn’t generate the money to keep this industry afloat.

  • Article ( above) paragraph 6:

    Moreover, triggering the odd sensations associated with schizophrenia is remarkably easy. Go without sleep for a night or two and you’re likely to experience some very peculiar thoughts and feelings (as demonstrated by a recent study of sailors in solo races). CONSUME A LOT OF CANNABIS and the effects can be similar. Meanwhile, a classic study by the psychiatrist Stuart Grassian showed that prisoners placed in solitary confinement were soon prey to hallucinations and delusions.

  • WHO is suggesting using toxic neuroleptics on this site?????????????? Even my son, who was forced to take neuroleptics during each of his two psych hospitalizations weaned himself off the neuroleptic and other psychotropic drugs after he was released. My son felt the horrific side effects, including 55 lb wt gain over 4 months on the neuroleptic, until he stopped seeing the brainwashing out-pt p-doc and got help from the psychologist he sought counseling from.
    But cannabis is NOT a benign drug for certain young, developing brains particularly < age 25. Do you really believe today's youth who are culturally exposed to more and more cannabis know the ratios of THC:CBD they're using? The 850+ scientific journal studies about the cannabis- psychosis link stand out. Is it that difficult to accept while some people find cannabis beneficial to them, others can not process the THC without alterations in their MH?
    Society needs to update their awareness about what are some of the factors behind the rise in MI amongst this younger generation. I found out too late and my son is gone. My son got tangled up in the broken MH system which began when psychosis appeared literally overnight, twice, in an 18 month time span. Both times he tested + for THC, what a coincidence.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3080696/ ( An article from Australia " Transition to Adulthood" )

  • “While it’s possible that these study results may not hold up or that researchers could discover problems related to long-term use of CBD”- quoted from the above link.

    Yes, let’s do the research BEFORE we tout more medicinal values of the marijuana plant. Isn’t it enough that the use of MJ has climbed dramatically in the population especially among the younger generation? And the saddest part of this social experiment (especially to me) since I lost my 25 y/o son who had two psychotic breaks (to use the MH industry diagnosis given) over an 18 month period, both “episodes” precipitated by his use of this “herb”. My son believed it was “harmless” “innocuous” since many of his friends indulged (part of the culture). Yet despite testing + for THC (a MIND-ALTERING DRUG) on his toxicology screen, both psych admissions the p-docs didn’t use any of the “schizo” labels so what psychiatric label was assigned: “bipolar one” of course. What a pathetic joke reported that “schizophrenic” rates have remained constant despite this surge in marijuana use. Let’s connect the dots, one of the many reasons variations of bipolar (w/psychotic features) has become a household word.

  • In many ways, the education I’ve gained here at MIA has been life changing following the death of my 25 y/o son, two yrs ago. I hold the blatant failure of the MH “system” mostly responsible. I so appreciate Dr. Steingard’s post about the COI in this field of psychiatry. After linking to a later blog she posted, reading Dr. Bernard Carroll’s blog (who actually broke this story) I remain dumbfounded how ETHICS is absent amongst these professionals. And my son’s tragic death, along with countless other victims of this industry, have paid the ultimate price. I want to believe that violations of the Hippocratic oath these physicians took years back could be used legally against them?
    But in the bigger picture, as I look around me, especially after losing my first-born son over the 2+ years he was caught up in this tainted, broken MH system the rosé-tinted glasses I wore for decades are off. It saddens me beyond, to see society in this new light. I completely agree with the post by Alex! But I realize it’s not just the psychiatric industry that has become so unethical. The loss of social trust- the belief in the integrity and honesty of others- is purasive across all industries in America. Without social trust, corruption runs rampant. Where do we, as a society, go if there is little trust in the foundations that should help us find healthful ways to save a person who experiences some severe emotional crises, regardless of the cause(s)?

  • Carina- I haven’t stopped thinking about this post since I read it. Realizing your type of ” help” has been in effect since 1987 and yet in America when my beautiful son had a psychotic break ( as labeled by the psych hospital and later out pt p-doc as ” bipolar for life, meds for life, MI fir life” ) at age 23, two months after marrying his longtime girlfriend despite enormous stressors ( physically and emotionally) no awareness there are such programs, even out of the country, when I asked/ begged how can my son get the right support. I’ve repeated this story countless times at MIA, just suffice it to know despite every resource we used, sadly turning to the conventional paradigm of MH in America was the worst decision of my life. Twice, 18 months apart, the latter was supposed to be for drug rehab- never realized as these bastards coerced my son into their locked ward and the forced drugging into a drugged, stuporous state far worse than how he was admitted- just added more emotional trauma beyond yet he ultimately regained his full normal mental health 10 wks later. He chose to wean off all meds, moved far away ” to start anew” and joined AA never to touch any substance ( assessed as a ” recreational cannabis user” though had used some other substances) but took his life 5 months after leaving the family he grew up with ( his wife left him during the 2nd hospitalization in the most wicked, cruelest ways). I continue to grieve, as do all my family. My youngest is without his older brother, his best friend, his grandparents in their late 80s will never fully recover and my son’s countless friends suffer in silence. Grief is a wicked emotion. And I now as I seek justice, I want America to answer why the programs like yours in Sweden, and like in Lapland are not here to save the next son or daughter??? Thank you for the grace of the services you render, for the 24/7 availability. What I would have given back if someone could have helped me save my beautiful Shane.

  • This is about as egregious a violation of a person’s human rights as I have read. I feel more than qualified to add my two cents in this dialogue on MIA. Over 2 years ago, my 25 y/o son took his life. And there isn’t a day that goes by that my family and I don’t feel the horror of his chose. Our lives have shattered but every person who has been so violated does have to deal with this kind of grief. This is grief, NOT a MI!!!!!!! Thank you Ted, as I completely agree. Why isn’t everyone acknowledging what GRIEF entails.
    The horror how this poor woman lost her son at the hands of her estranged husband is beyond my pain threshold. I have enough pain dealing with the factors that led up to my son’s suicide – especially how the MH industry deceived my son and his family who was trying to find the compassionate help that was denied him. To believe a mother instead of being humanely supported after such evil is forcibly held against her will now for 5 weeks is DISGUSTING. Is this truly America? Have professionals become so heartless when something so horrible occurs in a person’s life, this is the answer. This mother was handcuffed when taken into custody and she was refused the right to have her son’s funeral outside of the hospital chapel.

    Surely, the various places of support, the resources available thru MIA could be a viable alternative. After the HELL I watched my son endure, twice, locked in these psychiatric places of horror, I can only imagine the terror this poor mother faces each day, the longer she is locked away. And there is an older daughter that is without the love of her mother because the State has decided to continually force this woman to stay involuntarily locked away. Please can’t we find a way to help Christina Schumacher? Surely, I am not the only mother on MIA that feels such anger reading this????????????????????????????????????? Read the Burlington Free Press articles, thank goodness for Freedom of the Press.

  • Oxford JournalsMedicine Schizophrenia Bulletin Volume 37, Issue 3Pp. 631-639.

    Ana González-Pinto1,2, Susana Alberich2, Sara Barbeito2, Miguel Gutierrez2, Patricia Vega2, Berta Ibáñez3, Mahmoud Karim Haidar2, Eduard Vieta4 and Celso Arango5
    + Author Affiliations

    2Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, Hospital Santiago Apóstol, University of the Basque Country, Vitoria, Spain
    3Basque Foundation for Health Innovation and Research, Vizcaya, BIOEF, CIBERESP, Sondica (Vizcaya), Spain
    4Bipolar Disorder Program, Institute of Neuroscience, Hospital Clinic, University of Barcelona, IDIBAPS, CIBERSAM, Barcelona, Spain
    5Adolescent Unit, Department of Psychiatry, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, Madrid, Spain


    Objective: To examine the influence of cannabis use on long-term outcome in patients with a first psychotic episode, comparing patients who have never used cannabis with (a) those who used cannabis before the first episode but stopped using it during follow-up and (b) those who used cannabis both before the first episode and during follow-up. Methods: Patients were studied following their first admission for psychosis. They were interviewed at years 1, 3, and 5. At follow-up after 8 years, functional outcome and alcohol and drug abuse were recorded. Patients were classified according to cannabis use: 25 had cannabis use before their first psychotic episode and continuous use during follow-up (CU), 27 had cannabis use before their first episode but stopped its use during follow-up (CUS), and 40 never used cannabis (NU). Results: The 3 groups did not differ significantly in symptoms or functional outcome at baseline or during short-term follow-up. The CUS group exhibited better long-term functional outcome compared with the other 2 groups and had fewer negative symptoms than the CU group, after adjusting for potential confounders. For the CUS group, the effect size was 1.26 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.65 to 1.86) for functional outcome and −0.72 (95% CI = −1.27 to −0.14) for negative symptoms. All patients experienced improvements in positive symptoms during long-term follow-up. CONCLUSION:Cannabis has a deleterious effect, but stopping use after the first psychotic episode contributes to a clear improvement in outcome. The positive effects of stopping cannabis use can be seen more clearly in the long term.

    This Article
    Schizophr Bull (2011) 37 (3): 631-639.
    doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbp126
    First published online: November 13, 2009
    This article is Open Access
    » AbstractFree

  • Many, many thanks Will for writing this article. I listened to the audio interview with Krista MacKinnon and replayed so many parts of it it took me 3 hrs to finish the 47 min interview. “IF ONLY” resignates repeatedly in my head coming up on the 2nd anniv of my 25 y/o son’s horrific suicide, after two psych breakdowns which were 18 months apart. Thank you to Krista who acknowledges each time she went into psychosis was triggered by cannabis and/or other hallucinogens. But as Krista says the underlying traumas that people face is part of the catalyst into altered mental states. I get this now, but I want to ask why, why, why, why did the MH industry not acknowledge this to my son? Why didn’t this knowledge reach my son after a ” sea of stressors” ( two of the biggest stressors was a physical recovery for a severe knee injury on top of just marrying his longtime girlfriend who became less than interested when her “Prince Charming” wasn’t able to live up to this image) while indulging in too much cannabis, idled and on disability from his successful career in the trades. Why did none of the MH “experts ” help my son, or his family, as we were desperately trying to seek compassionate support. Just box into that MI label like Krista was, massively over-drug, warehouse with no education he could recover. Anything but hope was forecast yet my son, who intuitively realized the psychotropics were so damaging to him so did wean himself from them. We took my son to a psychologist who was a decent, caring man who also doubted the dx of ” bipolar” was factual but admits he wasn’t aware as much as he could have been how psychoactive drugs, like cannabis, can trigger “episodes”. And proud, independent young men don’t like to bear their psyches for introspective, soul- searching. I wish I had offered to join my son to improve our relationship, every parent-child can grow spiritually and emotionally, but I was counseled by another ” expert” to stay in the background, that it was up to my son to break away from the source of his conflicts. My son weaned himself off the toxic meds, yet, sadly, returned to cannabis (remaining with the woman he believed was his soulmate but slowly realizing she was undermining him as she was fully caught up the stigma of his MI label ) for reasons I assume now, to escape. A 2nd break, with my family’s well-meaning attempts to seek drug rehab help for my son, proved catastrophic as he was coerced instead into the locked psych unit and kept against his will for 13 days total, then ” dumped” by the system. So more trauma, on top of unresolved trauma, and 7 months later despite weaning off those toxic agents again, my son alone and isolated where he insisted he moved to and could heal around nature – took his life. And his family remains devastated. So, I ask how could this program you and Krista have developed not be in every community? I absolutely will sign up for the 8 week online courses. Please know every resource we tried to help our son failed, ultimately. My son was a macho, young man. The thought that was brainwashed into him of being ” bipolar for life” though we believed he was overcoming the stigma, and healing. We supported his cessation of meds, as I never saw any benefit while he took them, just the opposite. But he never met a Krista who could have explained, she, too, experienced similar parallels. God, I wish there were do-overs, Will. I want to shout from the mountaintops my son should be alive. The TRUTH was denied him. And it didn’t and shouldn’t have ended with the absolute tragedy of his suicide. Thank you to MIA for all this website has given me. So profoundly sad, however, I found it too late to help save my beautiful first-born son. But absolutely, Open Dialogue, and practicerecover.com can save countless lives in the future.

  • Jonah- thank you for the time and energy you have given to the tragedy that my family and I have suffered. It really says a lot about the kindness of who you are. And I so appreciate that we both have reached some agreements in the plight of my son. Absolutely, I wouldn’t go near or suggest, no matter how severe the emotional crisis, any psych facility the rest of my life. I truly pray my son, before he ended his life, forgave me for the tragic decision to get him ” compassionate help” which, as you know, never happened. Each of the two hospital/rehab center just added more trauma on top of the emotional trauma my son was already experiencing. The LAST place, the second time, I wanted my son to be was placed inside a locked unit. And my poor boy was soooooo phobic, he wouldn’t take my word, or my brother’s word we wanted to just get him into drug rehab, that is why my dad drive from the desert to be the one to finally persuade him to enter. This is why my dad feels so responsible what he promised his grandson was turned into a pack of lies by this drug rehab center the next day after my brother and father escorted my son to the drug rehab. But it was the place I vetted out, my family was just trying to help us. My father, who used to be an Admin with the County, and 30 yrs ago had a crisis in his life that necessitated my dad seeking help thru a p-doc, and use of a short-term antidepressant until the crisis was resolved. My dad says that p-doc saved his life. My dad says he met with the p-doc twice a week for 45 min sessions, and it helped get my dad thru a terrible situation. So, my dad’s last interaction with psychiatry was extremely positive. Each day I called my dad to update him on my son’s status and each conversation, from the day I called hysterical that my son had been coerced into the locked unit, instead of being in the drug rehab, I set up the day before they escorted my son there. It was impossible for my dad to believe. My dad reminded me this hospital had the reputation of being the “Cadillac” of hospitals he believed. Imagine, how sickened my family is now I have my son’s medical records which just verify the egregious practices, especially of massive over- drugging, and the violation my son was never given a court hearing despite his desperate comments reported by the staff to please put him back in the open unit where he started, begging the staff to contact his mother” who will know how to help get him out”.

    And hearing back, finally, thru the Dept of Pt Rights since I asked for an internal investigation. If you heard the reasons it was denied, scandalous is what I told the Supv. How can any investigation be concluded if the family wasn’t contacted directly to discuss why I claim there are so many discrepancies, mistruths, conflicting reports and outright lies, blatant lies throughout my son’s medical records, all 170 pgs.
    Just as you know Jonah, these agencies are just political machines. It’s obvious there are no true oversight agencies monitoring these unscrupulous hospitals, drug rehab centers… It’s all a scam, as you so well know. I told this Supv as much, if the agency he represents truly cared about the inhumane, egregious practices these places operate under there would be more than just a slap on the hand. This particular hospital/rehab has been cited repeatedly over the last 5 yrs, plus has had several personal lawsuits related to the actual deaths of several patients while each were hospitalized. I have to see if I have the emotional stamina to pursue litigation because I spoke with the consultant p-doc ( out- of- state) I found to review my son’s medical records and he stands my his opinion I should not just go after the admitting p-doc, but the Admin and owners. It was speaking with this professional who shared ” the last place he tells his patients, and their families, to end up is inside a locked psych ward as the outcomes are so poor”. Doesn’t that sum it up? A p-doc, from the old school of Psychiatry ( likely one that helped my dad so much 30 yrs ago) who realizes what a menace a psych hospital is today.

    Yes, I’ve been following Faith’s blog about the tragic death of the young 18 y/o male. First, Jonah, when I hear that word ” schizophrenic” ( which I equate with the “bipolar ” label though agree the former holds the worst connotation. But if I recall correctly before the DSM III any version of psychosis was labeled ” schizophrenia” ) my reaction now is WHY are we hearing sooooo many young people labeled with one of the most severe MI diagnosis? A recent study out of Canada does show a rise in the ” schizophrenic” diagnosis which the researcher links to one of two factors: the rise in immigrants or the Northern latitude creates low Vitamin D levels- somehow he links it to MI. Of course, since I’ve engrossed myself in reading about the rising drug use amongst this young population, especially cannabis which is so prevalent, my theory is drug related as to why the schizophrenia diagnosis is increasing. But whatever the cause, it was horrific this young man is dead at the hands of what appears to be a trigger happy cop. How pathetic the family calls for help and then watch as their son is gunned down in front of them.

    Believe me, this is why my husband and I took our son in Oct 2009, into our car from the first psych hospital the police took him to once his wife and mother-in-law called the police on our son, in the middle of the night. That hospital was the central place the police brought everyone but no p-doc on duty in the middle of the night and the MH tech saw no grounds to hold my son. Now, as I look back, that young MH tech surely saw a ” normal” young man, probably asked my son if he was under the influence of a substance( which he was) and knew my son’s altered mental state was drug related. The tech likely wanted to save my son the hell he knew would occur if he was admitted. But in the middle of the night, my son was out of his mind, where would the taxi have taken him? The reason we got our son into our car, instead of the taxi, we did not want him going back to his apt where his wife had called the police on his escalating bizarre behavior. How in God’s name could a psych hospital not be a place to receive support and treatment how to “fix” whatever has caused the brain to spin out? Only by living thru the HELL in Oct 2009 did my family, my son and all his friends who came to visit each of the 10 days he was locked in that psych unit realize what lurks behind the walls. Of course, that young 18 y/o teen who reportedly had not been taking his meds likely had been institutionalized before. He was resisting being taken back for more inhumane treatment, like my son, received. It’s just heartbreaking, Jonah. I have no answers, just sorrow that this is America. I know the horror his mother and step-dad feel. How many young people is this country are we losing each day? My son’s death appears as a suicide, but I have always believed it was more complicated. My son did not feel he had anywhere to turn because he surely must have feared what action we would have taken if he opened up about confessing any suicidal thoughts. We never heard our son, nor did he ever share SI with friends, his family or psychologist, ever, but after the 2nd hospitalization ( in the locked unit is when his SI began) my son kept those dark thoughts to himself. When he should have been freely able to tell any of us what he was experiencing, he must have been trapped in foreboding thoughts up there alone, isolated, and with none of us there to counteract his thinking. It’s just a travesty of unfairness. And never being informed our son, given that drugged, stuporous state he was kept in, had developed both SI and HI, I find the lack of communication from that psych hospital, for a young man who signed his HIPAA waiver so his family could be kept updated, the biggest travesty of all.

    I am keeping an open mind that the Open Dialogue program that Mary Olson PhD is helping bring to the Univ of Mass this year will be the start of improved MH care. You have completely justified reasons why you would never enter another psych hospital, or allow anyone else near one. I do absolutely understand and agree, Jonah. But there will always be people, like my family, trusting and naive how ” the system” works so best a program like Open Dialogue is set up, to offer alternative programs. One thing I have learned on MIA, there is hope to recover from these emotional crises. And HOPE and RECOVERY has to be the theme of the Open Dialogue program. Mary Olson writes the p- doc is just one of the team members who is involved in the patient’s care. P-docs will have to change their behaviors and drugging practices. This could revolutionize psychiatry ( maybe this is my limited and utopia ideations, but I have to believe good rises from such sorrow).

    Health care can’t afford to keep treating the public with such costly psychoactive drugs, so purely from a costs reduction, this program should please the legislators. Certainly, as I have learned any human being can experience a severe emotional breakdown, regardless of what triggered the crisis, I can only hope the public realizes they need a conscientious, caring program to bring their family member, if the situation warrants. Another reason I feel obligated to pursue legal recourse against the locked unit my son was kept in against his will. Otherwise, these institutions continue to practice without consequences and change demanded. (And more young men, like my son and this teen, will die tragic, needless deaths.) Their purpose filled lives taken far, far too soon.

  • Mary,
    As I’ve blogged on this webzine numerous times, MIA is how I’ve educated myself about the tainted, broken ( IMO) system of MH in America. I feel I can use such harsh words as in 1 week, it will mark the 2nd year when I lost my beautiful 25 y/o son. Never could my family and I, in a billion years, believe my first-born son would die by suicide. Hundreds of people who packed the memorial service for my son echoed this opinion yet he is gone. Only now, after time to try to salvage what is left of a family when one of its core has died have I had to accept despite working in health care > 30 yrs that the medical field, specifically psychiatry, catastrophically contributed to my boy’s death.

    When my son just after turning 23, hit with a sea of stressors, included a bad surgical repair of his knee from a boating accident, forging ahead with a marriage that crumpled once my son had a complete breakdown with psychosis etc…the deck was stacked against him. The night of his break is seared in my husband and my mind for our lifetime. Surely, I thought I’m having a nightmare because the always healthy, absolutely normal and outgoing, gregarious young man- my son- could not be the disoriented, delusional sounding young man who was speaking about bombed out buildings and how he must protect Obama as he tried to jump out of our car in the middle of the night. This was my son talking incoherently about some mission he was on, asking if we saw the skeletons in the cars speeding by. I leaned my hand back upon his knee to pat his knee, like when he was a small child. Surely, something horrific happened to his mind. Both my husband and I, both with professional jobs, have never been around a person suffering delusions with paranoia, and nothing in out lifetime prepared either of us what to do. Our son who was brought up to shun all drugs confessed to us not to worry but he had been using pot ” it’s harmless” ” a herb”. I held my breath as I knew in my gut this drug, loved by society and becoming a panacea for so many ailments, definitely had altered my son’s mind.

    Surely, the private psych hospital we eventually drove our son to would help us since we couldn’t go back home or anywhere near his distraught wife. Surely, a mental facility would do a thorough interview to get at the root causes why my son’s mind was spinning into outer orbit. Once inside the psych hospital, my son went willingly, why would he fear a place his parents told him would help him get healthy again. Sadly, the next 10 days (and he was beaten by the night staff upon entering once we were ordered to leave) could have been a sequel to the movie One Fly Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Beside not being allowed to see our son, initially, the hospital forcibly drugged him so badly he resembled the patients in that movie- lisping, drooling, shuffling his feet and way more psychotic than how he entered. Surely, we believed a comprehensive interview with his family and friends, who visited each of the 10 days ( excluding the first 36 hrs he lay in a deep, drugged state from the massive drugging done) would occur? NO! (Despite I got my son to sign the HIPAA). Was there any attempt to find out what substances, including how long and how much cannabis had been used? NO! Or to assess were there other drugs, also that cross the blood brain barrier used? NO! (My son stayed mute afraid to volunteer any further drug info until after his release when he confessed to me he had experimented with one-time ingestion of Magic Mushrooms, and two weeks of cocaine, earlier that year.) The psychotropics drugs this psych hospital administered weren’t titrated slowly, just rapidly pumped into his body already under assault by the THC his drug screen showed. Was there any attempt by this psych facility to discuss the sea of stressors this young man was hit with, almost overnight? NO! And this pathetic example is how my son, and all the others, today, receive MH treatment in almost every such facility across America.

    .Mary- do you know how it feels to be so helpless, so desperate for answers? We hired two psychologists once my son’s brain started emerging back to normal. Both men with decades of clinical expertise, in towns an hour apart, declared there was no p-doc they could refer my son to. I asked was there anywhere in the world I could take my son to heal, and stop the intrusive drugging which I felt just compounded his recovery. Again, in So CA, the answer given was ” no”.

    My son eventually weaned himself from the toxic psychotropic meds and that bastard out-pt doc who just reinforced the hospital’s brainwashing and labeling “bipolar for life” ” meds for life”. My family and I truly felt his recovery was permanent. But without the right dynamics how to heal those stressors, including a young marriage that was doomed, my son went back to the poisonous environment and unbeknownst to his family returned to using cannabis. I don’t know what impact ” recreational drug use” ( per the psych hospital staff comments) has on a fragile mind, but intellectively the young brain needs protection. Apparently, the psychologist didn’t know as my son kept the secret he was indulging again until his psychosis reared its ugly head- 18 months after his first break. Until then, we all believed my son had made a full, complete recovery: working f-t in the trade he excelled at, socially engaging with his wife and their large circle of friends and seeming as ” normal” as before the nightmare began.

    Again, I was so naive, so ignorant, and so a believer good vs bad in society wins out. Desperate to help our son whose mind started spinning out once again, I was led to a drug rehab program that baited me how my son would be educated to avoid substances which mimic mental illness. Yet <24 hrs my son was coerced to enter their locked unit where my son was chemically assaulted so much that he was kept in a drugged, stuporous state once he tried to pull the fire alarm to escape after he realized he deceptively was locked inside. The thousands of dollars we forked out to this facility, beside my son's PPO ins, was wasted. Their promises of drug educ and compassionate support were all blatant lies. Inside those locked walls, my son became both suicidal and homicidal yet no-one, no " expert" cared to let us know his troubles were life-threatening now. Just massively over-drug, warehouse, give worthless services, then " dump" 11 days from when he entered. We had to pay for 2 more days just to keep our son while we quickly developed a way to bring him home to provide 24/7 care since I believed the massive drugging pushed his mind over the edge while locked up and held against his will despite no court hearing ( in So CA). His wife left him during the 2nd hospitalization for another man, just adding betrayal and abandonment to his stressors. This is MH care in the 21st century, in an urban area, and with the supposedly best health insurance possible. A MH facility is allowed to operate in this manner- outright mistruths, egregious violations of chemical assault, allowing a young man to be kicked out in such a far worse severely psychotic state than how he entered ( his medical record and voice tapes I preserved are my proof). It's the sickening truth and now gut wrenching to comprehend.

    Yes, ultimately my sons's mind did re-normalize but looking back, after his death 7 months from discharge, he surely kept those suicidal thoughts to himself. How could he trust his mother again, if he shared that he had deep, foreboding thoughts? God, how much it hurts looking back I had to discover how this despicable MH industry took my son from me. I would have taken my son to Lapland, in a heartbeat, but the right help was denied us. And we lost a young life that should have been nurtured back to recovery, given the tools to realize he could, and would fully recover from all that life threw at him.

    Yes, " if only" my son was alive today, I could share there is a miracle called Open Dialogue. How sad I wasn't able to find it in time. I ask my son everyday to forgive me, though I will never be able to forgive myself that I lost my boy because I didn't understand the politics of MH.

    Thank you Mary, for what you are doing to spare countless people in the future who will suffer an emotional sea of crises ( that could befall any of us humans). Open Dialogue will save so many viable lives. Please, please don't let " the system" stop you no matter the obstacles and people like Marvin Ross you encounter.

  • Jonah- agree with your post to Mary Olson’s “The Promise of Open Dialogue”. From what I have read about Lapland’s program I can only think had this type of MH care been in existence (truly compassionate, supportive, minimal, if no use of meds used) my son would have survived his emotional crises. And my family would have not lost a huge piece of their lives. This type of alternative MH care is what I’ve been hoping America will embrace. It has to be a huge step in a positive direction from what MH care currently exists as. I need to believe the psychiatric community is willing to embrace holistic, non-drugged approaches because surely the outcomes, such as what my family experienced with my son’s egregious treatment, are known. I believe the psychiatric community is well aware of its tarnished image. I must believe change is coming soon……

    Could you pls post your email? I looked at the bloggings under the MIA file but can’t find your email now. Just want to send you the YouTube video. Thx.

  • Jonah- Happy New Year! I am glad you enjoyed some festivities too:-) I am only blogging because I just saw your post. (I have not reviewed the suggested postings yet). I want you to know I think you have been very respectful of a very delicate subject. I appreciate your dialogue with me. I am trying to decide if I have the emotional stamina to pursue legal action against the hosp my son entered supposedly for the drug rehab he never received. I really didn’t want to consider this route for many reasons but I do want to try to expose the egregious practices this hospital has been cited for repeatedly over the last 5+ years, and lawsuits by several family who have lost adult “children” at the hands of this tainted, disgusting hosp chain.

    I am on the fence because I do feel if my son had never started using cannabis, his death would not have occurred. You feel very strongly cannabis did not cause his death…. but I feel strongly, beyond strongly, he would not have suffered a severe emotional crisis if he hadn’t used this drug (or any chemical substance). Yes, people do have traumas, physical, emotional (or both) but they don’t often have these kind of breakdowns. I do want you to know that the psychologist who my son was seeing (until he moved away to “start anew” then just sporadically by phone) told me after my son passed away my son did feel, with the second “episode” this time his use of returning to cannabis (> one year after he had the 1st “episode”) that cannabis, for him, did trigger the breakdown. Unfortunately, thinking he was invincible like so many at this age, my son did not think starting with marijuana had any ill effects since his (eventual) wife and some of their friends had no negative experiences before.

    And yes, beyond a shadow of any doubt, what the MH system did to him, both hospitalizations with the labeling, massive drugging, warehousing, then “dumping” are the egregious practices I have mentioned numerous times here. But my son had a therapist, beside immediate family, that supported him weaning off the drugs he was forced to take. My family does not believe in long-time meds unless there is proof positive meds are a necessity. Clearly, there is no scientific proof anti-psychotics, mood-stabilizers have any benefit long term. I always maintained even during my son’s 1st breakdown in 2009 that the drugs forced upon him actually caused him great harm, but he went home to live with his newlywed wife who as I blogged before was very much a believer in MH diagnoses and meds used for these dxs. We straddled a very fine line trying to support my son, not cause conflict between them as it was stressed repeatedly “your son is so fragile and no stress on him is vital”. If I had followed my maternal gut feelings, I should have ripped my son away from living with her after the things she said to me about my son the first night she finally came to visit him during his 1st hospitalization. (She didn’t show up until the 5th night he was in that horrid locked facility even though his band of brothers were there from the 1st night on until he was finally released 10 days later). My dtr-in-law had always seemed like a decent person and loved my son until he wasn’t able to be the Prince Charming title he was assigned. They were together over 4 years and one would hope the true personality of a person would emerge. Sadly, our family and especially our son did not realize she was not the caring, loving person she pretended to be until his breakdown. Again, I was told because they were both so young to just give her the benefit of the doubt, overlook some of the petty things she started doing. I think my son was just incapable of knowing how to purge himself of her at this fragile time in his life. We, of course, being guided by “experts” we believed knew better how to handle such a fragile situation, were advised not to interfere…so meanwhile, we helped pay for some of their bills and just tried to be as much of an ally as possible. How would we know she was siphoning money from their bank account and all the other evil things she did while my son must have felt caught not knowing what to do. He truly loved this young woman and would not have let us know about the sinister side of her personality that he was being subjected to. And my son would say “I wasn’t that great of a husband” after she so cruelly left him during his 2nd hospitalization. As parents, truly, we were just up against all odds. I did try to speak candidly with my son after she left him and we found out about the money, and how she transferred her mother’s portion of their wedding onto my son’s credit card but he refused to ever say anything about her. I think my son’s pride was wounded beyond. I believe my son could not fathom someone he believed would be his life partner could have hurt him so deeply. (And this young man had so many girls after him all the years he dated). I have pushed my feelings toward this young woman far away as I can share it’s impossible knowing my son literally saved her life when they met. I often say to myself my son saved her and we lost him. Just so, so unfair.

    In some ways, I feel my son’s death was a perfect storm. Yes, i believed and shared with him, if he stayed away from all chemical substances his brain would heal over time. I believed this with every inch of my being. But my son weaned off all the drugs he was released with within 2 months of his last hospitalization (who would blame anyone from not being able to take drugs that dulled his brain and made him feel like he was in a fog). The out-pt p-doc, who was the admitting p-doc, actually took my son off the antipsychotic as soon as he was released. It didn’t matter as I’ve said, the drugs did nothing for him other than the one given to help him sleep (eventually he weaned off that drug too). But it seems to me moving far away (mostly because he had a big ego, a very macho type young man and didn’t want to have to see his wife who was divorcing him and her new lover) which he had some valid reasons to want “to start anew” proved too isolating, the longer he stayed in that rural area unable to find employment. But my son, who we never had any awareness of suicidal ideations and there was no self harm, or past suicide attempts except I believe I have shared my son’s medical records that I finally got indicate once in that horrid locked unit instead of the drug rehab we had put up thousands to be sure he received-but he did not receive- his thoughts turned very dark. Yet, not one professional communicated this to us, the parents there each night. Not one “expert” bothered to contact the psychologist whose care my son was under either in written or verbal communication. My son must have kept his dark thoughts to himself, and decided as loneliness and isolation took over, he had a way out. But you would have to have known my son who knew the horrific ravaging effect from suicide because of two personal experiences of suicide (one direct and one indirect) that he dealt with in his lifetime. My son IMO absolutely would not have done this to the family he knew loved him, cherished him and would live lost without him. He mentioned how much he did not want to do this to us in his note. What Jonah, could have caused my son to take this route? I know the summer he moved up to the remote area the folks at AA apparently helped him realize how some families when faced with what he had gone thru, abandon their son or daughter. We had quite a conversation that day and I explained families stick together thru the good and the bad times. I knew my son felt he was so lucky after all that had transpired.

    For me, I will always believe there are MH changes to the brain that occur and change the neurotransmitters. For me, I likely will never know how much cannabis altered his brain or the massive drugging in that locked unit, when according to his medical records he starts thinking of suicidal and homicidal thoughts. Is it possible these MH changes are irreversible or possibly need much longer before a person’s own normal chemistry is balanced? I truly believe my son would not have left this earth unless something so horrible, so evil was the focus of his thinking. There were so many family, even the psychologist always had a phone number my son could use to reach him in any emergency, to have called for help. I absolutely know my son knows each and every one of us would have driven immediately to have been there for him.

    Does it haunt me that if he shared his thoughts had turned dark and foreboding, he feared we would have put him in a hospital, like we did the two times before? I imagine you know what my answer is. Yes, it haunts me because I never sat down and told my son after the second (and last) hospitalization how horrible I felt about the egregious treatment he received and how much it harmed him. I wanted to many times, but I was told by the psychologist I had sought advice from for two years how to not alienate my son, how to be more supportive.. and was told to say less, offer less advice, don’t bring up painful memories. Believe me, it will haunt me forever that I didn’t follow my gut instinct and let my son know no matter what he was experiencing if he would trust me despite the horrible experiences he endured (because I believed working in health care these last 30 yrs psych hospitals were the best place to seek help) I would be there to help him, stay with him, work with him thru whatever he was experiencing no matter what.

    But Jonah- I still have no place in So CA I could recommend to another parent if their son or daughter were to go thru these “episodes” and want to be sure to keep them out of harms’ way -either from themselves or from getting behind the wheel or from any potential altercation with the police. It is just not right, Jonah. Parents especially when their adult “children” reach adulthood are placed in such difficult situations when they move out, assume their own independent life and then the perfect storm hits. I really don’t have any answers but I do hope, one day, this horrid MH system that was so catastrophic in my son’s life changes. No person should have had so much turmoil and no family should suffer like we do now.

    FYI- “cannabis-induced psychosis” only applies in the world of the MH system if the person emerges from the sxs of a altered mental state within a short period of time. I asked why my son’s dx shouldn’t be this because it fit the boxes to check. Of course, this is how the “experts” railroaded him, my husband and me , into the bipolar pseudo-crap. I truly fought the p-doc’s dx in that one-time family session, but he was so intimidating and my daughter-in-law and her mother who fully embrace MI blocked my responses to this p-doc. Again, my son was still in this emotional, fragile altered state and I knew arguing and conflict in that session would not be in my son’s best interest. But yes, the labeling was so devastating. My mom (his grandmother) and I constantly told my son he was not bipolar and that this label was being given out to so many people, just like ADHD labels I used for example. That is why I started to research what could have caused his altered state. And the more I began investigating the effect of drugs, cannabis since this was what he tested + for, the more I felt overwhelmingly convinced the connection/link between cannabis and psychosis was very real. I felt if I could legitimately prove would cause this altered state, no label was accurate. But instead of thinking the “experts” could only agree with the hundreds of literature studies about this link as a logical explanation what happened to him- nothing but MI labeling and brainwashing ensued.

    Here is a response from a blogger to the MIA article reprinted from MentalHealthCop “What the Hell is Actually Going On?” 12-31-13. I so agree with the question some blogger asks:

    What I would like to say is that there needs to be more studies and inquiry into
    a) what is triggering psychosis/schizophrenia etc – if people are taking illicit drugs or alochol and it is triggering this, then they need to better be taught the risk outcomes of these pursuits. Likewise, if soldiers are coming back from wars and finding themselves afflicted – they need to know that they are putting themselves at risk before they head off.


  • And yes, Jonah, I will review ‘Drop the Language of Disorder” this week. Plus, I will review another link you had suggested last blog, as I recall. I don’t want to be argumentative either. I think we realize there is a lot of horrific abuse which involves the MH field, from what you experienced years ago and continue to stand up for what you believe is pseudo-science. I am so new to this world of MH, and only stumbled in because of what happened to my son. Now, as I have had almost two years to reflect, including the 27 months my son started on this path which culminated in his suicide, I have much more clarity now. I realize the terrific mistakes we made by just trying to seek help for my son. But quite frankly, if it were to happen to someone else around me, I still am lost as to suggest where family and friends take a person who was in the extreme emotional crisis my son experienced. How does one keep a strong, tall, young man out of harm’s way when these extreme symptoms manifest themselves? How can you restrain someone from getting in a car and driving away when the person is hallucinating and having delusions? We hear constantly on the news about loss of a young person (usually a male) when the police get involved and some sort of emotional crises is evident with that person. When a person is in this state, too often they are reactionary themselves leading to an arrest or a worse fate. I still have NO idea what we would have done since there are no alternative places to turn to for help in So Calif (that I am aware of).

  • Jonah- I love the passion you have for helping those of us in the MIA “family” that I now consider myself. And in many ways I agree with much of what you just wrote. Trust me, I have two degrees, both in Nutritional Science, I have read many scientific journals over my lifetime. As much as I agree with the despicable way a young person, like my son, in the throes of some severe emotional state as he, twice, over 18 months experienced, I hope to persuade you (with more literature reviews) the psychoactive ingredient (THC) can and does throw certain young brains over the edge. While we differ in the origin of cause, for now, I do want to say absolutely I agree with the pseudo-science crap he was labeled with.

    But Jonah, I just re-read your blog, why can’t/shouldn’t society be helping young people who, like my son, have used some mind-altering drug, which spins their brain into orbit, creating delusions, hallucinations…. that the root of their bizarre behavioral changes is from the drugs that crossed the blood brain barrier? Why can’t we educate all these young people, forewarn them, if this happens or if their brain starts having altered realities consider the drug maybe adversely affecting them? Yes, I realize people have “episodes” of psychosis without any drug taken, but the youth of today are using drugs like no other generation before us. Do you think if my son had known there is a risk for his brain to go into some altered state he would have taken it? My son, like most young males, think of themselves as invincible. I will never understand while after my son appeared completely back to “normal” after the first psychosis, I sat down with both he and his wife, but my son did not heed my warning about pot and psychosis. His young wife did as she began clandestinely siphoning money from their bank account, met another man and plotted her way out of the marriage, waiting until my son’s 2nd breakdown to leave. Wouldn’t it have been kindly if she had come to one of her in-laws, and expressed concern that our son was returning to the drug that according to the scientific literature I shared with both of them contributed to his brain fueling into psychosis? Especially considering my son was given the title of Prince Charming when they dated as he was the one that saved her life………………

    And believe me, I already told the story about one of my patients who shared how his cousin was saved long ago, in almost the same kind of emotional crisis my son presented with. After this man shared how his cousin was saved in a 3rd world country, since I have worked in health care for 30 years, I told myself how fortunate my son was to have access to PPO insurance which would allow my son to receive the help we sought for him because we don’t have access to a remote place we could hole up in for a month. (The patient who shared this with me actually gave me more details about the one room shack in the middle of some rural area in Mexico, where many cousins and fathers stood guard that this young man did not escape. ) My son was 6’4″, 236 lbs and we, including my then 20 year old son, was concerned over his escalating, bizarre behavior. Honestly, when someone is in this altered mental state, family and friends are just desperate to find help for their loved one. It is only since my son’s death that I started reading about alternative programs like Soteria House and Open Dialogue, but honestly where are these places in So Calif?

    We had not one, but two, psychologists (actually three as one was a family friend) and NONE could offer us a place to take my son, or a p-doc that any of them would confer with or worked with. And my son did need medication as at the start of his psychosis was exhibiting panic attacks (never had any type of anxiety or panic attack before) and yes, Jonah, as I educated myself IMO these were sxs of drug withdrawal. I didn’t know anything about drugs, how THC alters the brain, and the symptoms that manifest like these. It’s all in the literature that I have devoured. All I ask is why aren’t psych centers connecting the toxicology reports with the symptoms? The literature about cannabis-psychosis is absolutely documented, study after study, for 30 yrs with more research monthly being published from many countries. Have you read any of the literature I have cited about this link? You seem convinced the link doesn’t exist but I definitely having seen it happen twice to my own son and know what he believed was the cause (since both hosp THC was + on the tox screen). Mothers know a little, Jonah. Just like I felt my son die that morning. I don’t believe in spirits, psychics…. but I was linked by birth to both my sons so it is my honest opinion, I felt a piece of me die that fateful morning in Jan, 2012. Just as we were connected since birth, I feel it is my right to pursue what really took my son’s life.

    Thank you as I know you deeply care and I believe with your own traumatic experiences in this sick system of MH, my son’s story could have been your story to some degree. I do believe the psychiatric labeling crippled him fatally. But it was my mom (his grandmother) and I that would refute the labels the p-doc brainwashed him with. It didn’t help that his young wife (and her family) believed in these labels. Why do you think I was in favor of my son weaning himself from these horrid medications after he came out of psychosis (10 weeks each time) since his brain was “dulled and foggy” and the 55 lb wt gain horrible for his knee recovery? Why do you think we found (after many interviews) a psychologist who had heart, compassion and didn’t buy into the psychiatric labels? Just sadly, the psychologist now admits, he wishes he had understood symptoms of substance use better? How was I or my husband, with no history of drug use, supposed to realize my son’s neurotransmitters were going to be altered way past when his use of substances had ended and his psychosis abated? We got NO help, Jonah, none. Wouldn’t you want a psych center to cover A-Z with a young person, and the family who was with the person upon, and during his hospitalization? Wouldn’t it be prudent to help the patient and family understand how substance use effects their young brains???????????????????????? I have my son’s medical records – can you imagine what it is like for me to read that my son (admitted with NO h/o self-harm, suicidal ideations, past suicide attempts) could turn not just suicidal, but homicidal once coerced and massively drugged in the locked unit (when he ONLY admitted himself, with his uncle and grandfather accompanying him since I set up the arrangements for drug rehab myself the day before) and NO ONE contacts me, or his uncle, both of us are on my son’s HIPAA waiver. NO ONE contacted the psychologist who had been treating my son and whose contact infor is listed several times in his medical record. NO ONE sent discharge papers to my son’s psychologist. How were any of us supposed to know my son’s thoughts had turned that dark against himself when he was “dumped” after the hospital refused further stay when the PPO insurance refused to pay past 11 days? My husband and I had to pay (beside the thousands we gave this drug rehab/psych hosp upon admission for the drug rehab he never received) two days more so we could get a plan how to care for our son since he was sooooooo far worse than how he entered. We had to find a way to let him know his wife of 20 months had left him during this hospitalization? The very young woman , when they met 4 yrs earlier, he had saved her life, literally. We had to re-arrange our f-t jobs, enlist my son’s grandmother at then age 85 to help us with 24/7 care as my son was that bad when he was released. Imagine, trying to figure out how to pull this together when both my husband and I had hardly slept since our son went into this breakdown state for the 2nd time. Nothing in life, could prepare us for what we have endured, Jonah. Nothing. Unlike you, no one I know has faced this type of crisis before. Not that I believe your situation is anything one would want to have gone thru, but at least you understand what can happen to people in this kind of crisis. Having not had any family member go thru such crises, and not having any good answers from the psychologists we consulted with, just where does a desperate family turn?

    Jonah- I wish my son had been dx with the actual schizophrenic dx. Why? Because being dx with bipolar one (yes, I know it includes extreme psychotic features) it was a distraction IMO. I always told the psychologist treating my son (and he agreed as he saw the sxs once my son’s brain went again overnight into psychosis, the 2nd time) who did not meet my son until his psychotic sxs abated the first time. I shared I felt as if my son’s bizarre behavior and delusions was like someone with schizophrenia. But once I read the dx for schizophreniform or schizoaffective d/o which I still believe my son exhibited rather than bipolar one as my son never manifested the kind of mania people who consider themselves manic-depressives have. My son’s mania was IMO related to the brain changes from the substances he used…. came out of nowhere and were so extreme along with a panic attack and severe anxiety, tremors in his hands…. again, all sxs of drug withdrawal once I educated myself. And I never saw in my son the kind of deep depression the other spectrum of bipolar exhibits. On the contrary my son loved life to its fullest – never in his 24 yrs (age he had the 2nd “episode”) saw a day he stayed in bed, wouldn’t interact with people. In some ways, I believe my son would have been the LAST person on earth that could have succumbed to suicide. But the hospital IMO wouldn’t have used the dx – schizophreniform- because my son had a + tox report so that dx can’t be used. It was easier to box my kid into “bipolar” because he displayed mania at the start of psychosis. You know as bright as you are Jonah, one can’t get a dx of schizophrenia unless one has the sxs > 6 months. My son’s sxs abated, each time, 10 wks after they came on suddenly, out of nowhwere. I believe had my son been given the worst (supposedly) of severe psychiatric labels- schizophrenia or some similar dx- the cause would have been identified sooner. And I stand by my belief it was THC that fueled his brain into this bizarre behavior, exactly why the SSC organization has created that interactive website in Canada to reach out to its youth. Here is info from Australia about concerns about this same cannabis-psychosis link. Why are these countries recognizing the same symptoms my son presented with, twice, each time his drug screen was + for THC. Why?
    see- MI Fellowship of Australia (cannabis and psychosis).

    My son should have at least been given the benefit of the doubt. Had he been given “substance induced psychosis” instead of “rule out bp one” (ignoring his tox report was + for THC) while dismissing him as “just a recreational user” which the out-pt p-doc then just railroaded my son into the manic-depression label….where might he be today? Are you familiar that 10% of young people have become addicted to cannabis? Have you read about the addiction clinics exploding with kids addicted to pot lately?

    I will leave you with another related cannabis incident that happened to my son’s dog just prior to his 2nd psychosis and subsequent hospitalization. My son’s dog got into a bag of pot at the home my son and his wife shared. Unbeknownst to my husband or me, I was naive/stupid (fill in the blank) so when my son called that their dog was seizing asking for my help. I picked up my dtr-in-law and their dog who seemed to be having a seizure, like I used to see in a previous dog of ours who had epilepsy. We took the dog to our family vet who denied the dog’s symptoms were epilepsy, rather he felt it was a drug reaction. My dtr-in-law (now I know was lying thru her teeth) insisted the dog had eaten snail bait, but the vet didn’t believe snail bait was the cause. I was too ignorant to request the dog have a tox screen and since the vet knew my son and his wife wanted to keep costs down, though told us he was not sure the dog would survive. After 24 hrs of IVs, observation the dog did survive. After my son had the 2nd psychotic break, hospitalization…. he confessed that the dog had actually gotten into their bag of marijuana. Next time, I saw our vet I asked “could MJ have caused the dog’s seizure and temporary paralysis?”Here is what the vet told me “oh, no, pot toxicity doesn’t manifest itself as those sxs”. Guess what Jonah, much to my surprise this fall as I was reading the LA Times, this article popped out at me.


    Again , Jonah, today’s pot is NOT the same drug that you may have used yrs ago. It is not the same pot of the ’60s, ’70s. ’80s. I know our vet is a well-respected veterinarian and yet he did not know that pot was the cause of my son’s symptoms in 2011. So, do I believe well intended people, like yourself or the family vet who tell me that pot can’t do this to young brains, to animals…. Again, the truth will set us free. It’s just a matter of time, Jonah.

    But yes, we are in agreement about much of what we both write. It’s one reason I will not stop until the truth is completely known. While millions of people use some form of marijuana without adverse effects, my son, and all the others like him, had no warning. I often wonder how with all the literature about the cannabis-psychosis link can people, as intelligent as you, still not get it? I am baffled quite honestly. And above all, I hope we can all work toward seeing ‘alternative programs’ developed like a one room shack of sorts when people, for whatever reason, go into these states? According to what I read, people whose brains go into these altered states, who have used some mind-altering drugs, have extreme states of psychosis. Please believe me, we needed some place to get my son help. I feared had he driven or interacted with people/friends, he could easily have been arrested. His mind was not functioning normally. Again, I have never witnessed anyone go into this altered state, other than the two times it happened to my son.

    Yes, next week will forward on my son’s YouTube and appreciate you viewing it, truly. We are heading out for a few days to soak up some sun and reflect, hopefully, on a healthier start to 2014. I will never understand why in spite of what we believed we did to help him, our efforts were futile. Perhaps, I agree, if we had known of a shack in some far away place, and with enough people who would have helped us physically keep my son out of harms way this would have been the scenario to have saved him. Certainly, the road we took with him, led him to, proved deadly.

  • Jonah-over the last month I have spent many hours surfing the SSC webpage, which in my haste earlier today, admit I failed to recognize who it was created by. However, guess who funded this 3 yr grant?

    The Cannabis and Psychosis project is a national project of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada funded by the Drug Strategy Initiatives Fund of Health Canada.
 The aim of the project is to increase awareness and understanding of the relationship between cannabis use and psychosis from the perspective of youth.

    And yes, I am quite aware that childhood trauma is linked to schizophrenia later in life, but there has to be a myriad of other factors behind developing psychosis. And one is environmental use of drugs

    I will next week look for your email which I saw on some blog. I would like you to see my son’s video, honored if you would view it actually. Two of my son’s friends created a YouTube pg last yr in what should have been his 26th b-day. It is such a precious look back at my son’s life, from early on until just before he died. It’s just a snapshot of his young life, but it tells a story that speaks for itself.

    And yes, there was a sad incident that occurred in my son’s life, just prior to his 13th b-day which effected all of my husband’s family. I do agree it left a scar in my son, emotionally. But I believe it was the reason why his last girlfriend ( eventual wife) won his heart as he felt so profoundly sad for what she endured in her last yr of h.s. and because of his sensitivity how he was impacted by the tragedy in his llife just before he became a teen, it may have sealed his fate. My family also just felt so sorry for this young woman’s loss in her senior yr of h.s. so with our big, generous, kind hearts we just embraced her fully. Little did I realuze, until the midst of my son’s 1st ” episode” 2 months after they married, she was the negative infleunce who had been bringing drugs, mainly cannabis, into my son’s life. As I reflect back, I recall how my son while they were just dating implied several times she wasn’t such a ” nice” girl. Each time, I was exacerbated after guessing what he was taking about until finally he laughed, shook his head and walked off. Remember the idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover” truly I was not looking at this young woman as a whole book. From the time my sons could walk, I was so careful whom my boy’s associated with. But as they got older and had access to wheels, it did get harder. But one needs a 6th sense in this world when it comes to parenting. Just sad once they leave the nest, parents have no control and you have to hope the values and love you instilled will keep them from harm’s way. Never once could I imagine this clean-cut, wholesome, straight A college student with the same religious background my boy’s were brought up in could have used drugs throughout h.s, And then my son when they started dating post h.s ,he took the bait. My son knew better though he partied with his many friends in h.s as kids use alcohol despite they’re underage. It’s a subject for another time, but modeling a clean lifestyle both my husband and I provided proved not enough. I believe the influence on this generation by its peers is unlike any generation before. i sincerely feel my son had about as perfect a childhood as one could have. And please realize I say this with no arrogance or pretense. We were not a perfect family, by any means, but we gave our two sons the best life we possibly could have provided.

    I jappreciate your dialoging about the causes of psychosis. I saw it happen overnight to my then 23 y/o son and absolutely believe had he not touched cannabis, the two ” episodes” would never have happened. As I read so many countries have Drug Facts, Pamphlets about “Cannabis and Psychosis” ( MI Fellowship of Australia Inc) which I wish I had found while my son was alive.( Page 2 of 2 info content could definitely have helped my son realize, he was not alone in the adverse mental changes on his brain from his use of cannabis. My question remains, as it was to the staff, the p-docs ( out-pt and in-pt) 2009 -2011 why was this info not shared with my son, with this mother who was waving the Reseach studies about this link.

    And yes, I agree Jonah, I feel these govt agencies do nothing to help the person who willingly, or unwillingly, gets caught up in the system of MH. As much as I agree with what you posted about Toronto’s treatment of pts admitted with MH issues, I think the collaboration by the SSC and HealthCanada should be commended. Why isn’t the U.S. educating, or at least, trying to reach this young generation which is using more and more cannabis. Cannabis is the #1 most illicit drug used in the world according to the W.H.O. survey of legal and illegal drug use with the U.S., followed by NZ, reported to have the higher rate of use ( WebMD, 2008).
    I believe your child is not yet at an age where substance use is so common amongst these ages. I think society has become so accepting of cannabis. With the legal prevalence of medical marijuana in many states yet there are studies associating psychosis with the younger person using it for medicinal reasons. How can we, as a society, keep burying its head that young people, my son is the example, are developing such adverse MH changes. Why would govt and private foundations, like the SSC, be reaching out to caution young people about some risks which can be asoc with those whose brain is more vulnerable? I can’t help but wonder if my son was living in Canada when this 4 yr national study began would professionals have recognized the assoc b/t my son’s breakdown and the drug which showed up + for THC on his drug toxicology report?

    Any chance you read the NY Times article Dec 26: E.R. Costs for Mentally Ill Soar, and Hospitals Seek Better Ways. The article highlighted several hospitals dealing with the increasing numbers of people dealing with mental health challenges. ” Nationally, more than 6,4 million visits to emergency rooms in 2010, or about 5% of total visits, involve patients whose primary dx was a mental health condition or substance abuse. That is up 28% from just four years earlier, according to the latest figures available from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in Rockville, Md.” One non-profit hospital organization, WakeMed in No. Carolina stated it treats an avg of 314 pts a month whose primary dx is some form of psychosis, ” That us up a third from two yrs ago.”

    Jonah- there is an epidemic of drug/substance use in our country occurring but way too little attention to these statistics are being broadcast. I wish some keen eye researcher would be analyzing the toxicology reports on the people admitted for psychosis. Do you think I wonder if there is a correlation b/t the rising use of MJ amongst this young generation and the rise in people with psychosis????? And this generation is mixing substances, another hit neurologically to their still developing brain< age 25. I believe the facts speak for themselves, but glad to consider your opinion. I think one of the best aspects of MIA, is the willingness to express our personal opinions while recognizing each person is entitled to their beliefs.

  • Jonah-thank you for all the good wishes at Christmas. We did have a good holiday celebrating with family and friends, I started, hopefully, a tradition in honor of my son. I felt sad at Thanksgiving, no one mentioned my son’s absence to me. So, Christmas brunch was at my home and I got a tabletop tree ( beside the main tree) just specifically to put my son’s special ornaments over the years as a baby to teen he was given. I asked my youngest son, whether he wanted to have his special ornaments on the same tree, or not. My son had no objections so I moved all the family name ornaments to the tabletop tree. Before brunch began, I asked all family gathered to take 30 seconds to recall a happy memory with Shane. Shane lived for 25 yrs so we have many, many joyous times with him. I think it made everyone reflect back in a + way. My Dad, now age 87, normally very stoic, quite the unemotional type, actually later shared he lives with such regret that it was he, being Shane’s grandfather, who was the one who finally convinced his grandson to enter that hospital in 2011 when Shane’s brain started to spin out. Dad said, ” I told Shane this hospital was the Cadillac of hospitals”. It haunts me, how wrong I was and how Shane was so wronged by going there”. My Dad had been the only one who could persuade my son to enter the drug rehab program promised to me that he would receive, the day before my father and brother met Shane. Because he so trusted his uncle and grandfather, he reluctantly did allow himself to be admitted. How sad my aging father lives with this guilt because it was I who had searched for supposedly the best drug treatment hospital to take my son. But after my husband and I had been the ones to take him in Oct.2009, the night of his first breakdown (when he confessed he’d been using cannabis) to the first psych hospital where he was beaten by the staff once he volunteered to go inside, and my husband and I were ordered to leave our son. Of course my son didn’t trust his parents since the 10 days inside that locked unit were, indeed, the most hellish days of his young life. Imagine, researching 18 months later, to steer as far away from the first hosp to find this other hosp, an hour away, specifically known for it’s drug rehab program. I asked Shane’s uncle and grandfather to help us get him to this place believing the lies the Coordinator had told me the day before, when I made the arrangements for my son to be admitted.

    As I re-read your post on Christmas Eve, you wrote ” all regarding the miseries of psychiatry” absolutely, the perfect words to express the shameful treatment for 3 1/2 yrs you received. It was only 27 months from the start of Shane’s mind spinning out, literally overnight, Oct ’09 to Jan ’12 when my husband and I found our son dead. How in 27 months a life that was so bright, with endless potential, could be lost as I look back- truly- it seems impossible. My son’s two psych hospitalizations, and the out-pt psychiatry sessions with more brainwashing that he had this MI, for life, meds for life proved too overwhelming. .For this young man who had been admired his entire life because he was such a bright light, so fun-loving, generous, and with the biggest heart. People always wanted to be around him, from the time he was just a tot. As my son grew up, I admired so many of his characteristics because he pushed the boundaries and I believed had more successes in his young life than so many others his age. There were always compliments on his manners, the ease he had talking to his friend’s parents, and kids adored my son. I knew, one day, what an exceptional father he would become. In all the friends my son had, I absolutely believe my son was the most grounded and well-rounded. How did his life unravel so fast, and so deadly? I now believe, without a shadow of doubt, if either psych hospital, or the “experts” (p-docs) had bothered to get a full history, interview his parents ( my husband and me) who were pleading for help each night we visited our son and saw how worse he was getting as these centers just massively drugged him. IF they could have cared enough to look at the whole picture instead of box him into this MI label, IF they had educated themselves, as I surely have now, the answers why a healthy young man ( no hx of any severe MI in his family) was on my son’s toxicology report, + for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The answers were in the hands of the ” professionals” yet ignored, both times. Me, his mom, even asking, questioning them ( both hospitalizations) the research I had found about the cannabis/psychosis link. It was clearly known, especially in other countries, that are far ahead of the U.S. in educating its youth to the dangers some young brains < age 25 are suffering these psychotic " episodes" which mimic mental illness symptoms. Just read a Fact Sheet the Australians posted explaining the terminology given when the symptoms my son experienced as he was having were from the drug withdrawal. Even explains why the psychotic symptoms from this drug manifest even stronger than a person who has not been using a chemical substance and experiences a breakdown. My son who was specifically taken to this hospital in 2011,supposedly known for its drug rehab program, the very program my son was denied, could and should have been given meds to help him sleep, along with anti-anxiety meds as he was clearly exhibiting symptoms of drug withdrawal from cannabis ( yes, these symptoms are happening to one young brains like my son) instead was not given a dy of rehab, but coerced into their locked unit, held for 13 dys against his will, labeled, forcibly assaulted- chemically- with massive dosages of multiple neuroleptics, brainwashed he was mentally ill for life instead of being educated the drug, cannabis, had spun his brain out and in 10 wks ( exactly what it took each of the two times my son went into this state of psychosis) the lipophilic THC molecules would finally clear from his body which it did, both times and his brain returned to " normal". As I discover the truth, gather more and more facts about these mental changes to certain young brains across the globe, it haunts me the truth was withheld from my son….and lies from the tainted , broken MH system claimed my son. As I go forward, hearing my father, and brother( who feels equally guilty) how the very system we turned to seeking proper help and treatment my son so desperately needed was denied him, there must be consequences for this system. And I intend to pursue how to seek justice for the wrongs that resulted in the death of a young man who should have been been educated what really was the root of his two breakdowns, and how his life would re-normalize and why he did not have a MI, rather how drugs, including cannabis- especially cannabis- to his brain mimic these symptoms. Imagine, if my son had been given HOPE and the TRUTH instead of how he was labeled, drugged, warehoused, brainwashed then " dumped"by this hospital after his PPO ins and the thousands of dollars, we agreed to pay initially (for the drug rehab he never received) released him from a locked unit, soooooooooo far worse than how he entered. Sometimes, Jonah, as the pieces of my son's puzzle begin to finally fit together, it is almost too much pain for me. But I vow in my son's memory, and how he lived life to its fullest, until it unraveled in just 27 months, to expose the truths I now know.

    And you have such a talent for expressing yourself, understanding what the 3 1/2 yrs of hell you suffered from psychiatry continues to do to the others, like my young son. It was very hard to hear, what I already knew in my heart but verified from the consultant p-doc ( who I intentionally hired out of state to be sure there were no ties to this hosp chain) who after spending hours reviewing my son's 170 pg medical chart " I'm afraid Shane's treatment was terribly abusive. I'm so sorry he entered this hospital as I tell all my clients, and their family, the worst place anyone suffering a severe emotional crisis can enter is a psych hospital. The outcomes are just so poor". OMG, a licensed, independent psychiatrist understands this about the industry he works in. The tragedy from the despicable MH system to the ignorance, and denial, how the cannabis drug( especially with the pro cannabis zealots, not to mention the multi- billion dollar pro-cannabis lobby licking its chops with the relaxed view the public naively has about this drug which is NOT the same drug of the '60s, '70s, '80s) is now the most used illicit drug in the U.S., Canada, Australia, NZ, England…. But I'm not deterred Jonah, the truth ultimately will prevail- I've always believed the truth will shine through.

    Hope Christmas for you and your family was peaceful. I so agree anyone, such as yourself, who made it into and out of the MH system, and realize the evils within this industry, must share their stories. You overcame the atrocities that my son succumbed to. Surely, with alternative programs scattered throughout the U.S. the fact there are so much better, less costly, and most importantly, compassionate and healing ways to treat someone in the throes of mental anguish. Whether it be to help them understand the root causes, and if factors like my son's " recreational" use of a mind-altering drug helped fuel his brain into such a chaotic state then provide that education these young people need. It's intriguing to view the Canadian website with its artsy way to try to connect with it's youth about the concerns mentally some are experiencing from using cannabis. Bless the Canadian government for this dialogue intended to reach this young generation, just be aware- cannabisandpsychosis.ca .

  • Jonah-it’s now officially Christmas Eve. But I want to truly say your writing, while possibly very cathartic for you, decades later after the HELL you endured within the sick MH system that apparently has been pathetic all along, is just beautifully expressed. I wonder if you would ever consider writing your experiences in a diary of sorts? I think the way you can express what happened to you, as I imagine so many young people could relate to what you’re feelings as you approached adulthood back then. You so can know understand how the health issues your mom battled, and sadly the wrongs that medical care can inflict at times on us, could help other young people who suffer equal trauma and stresses in their lives. I have read other bloggers who share my opinion about the way you write, Jonah. Honestly, I hope, in time, you realize how much people, like me, benefit from the experiences of what you have written.

    I also wonder if you have read or know anything about one of our MIA bloggers, Sean Blackwell? You can read his experiences, which very much involved Buddhist philosophy, as I recall from what I read about him, in his videos bipolarORwakingUP. I found his videos about the similar emotional experiences you also describe, as what my son went thru. I think you might find his work and videos of interest. One of my deepest regrets (and I have many) I didn’t share any of the videos in 2011 that I found on YouTube with my son. Sadly, I was so desperate to help my son, and willing to go against my own inner voice that has always guided me along. I listened to a old family friend/long-time revered psychologist who told me I must say little to my son, keep quiet and more demure. So, I felt I deserved an Academy Award for the less I would engage with my son as he was coming out of psychosis. Even when he told me he believed (after the 1st hospitalization) when he actually was given some drug rehab/emotional help “group therapy” that sometimes these experiences are “enlightening”. My son really seemed to believe his existential thinking was a positive and shouldn’t be seen in such negative ways as we, his family, and the p-docs were saying. I was just so upset because while still in that altered mental state (10 wks duration) he talked about wanting to do other drugs…. by then I had immersed myself in the studies, over the last 30 yrs, about the cannabis-psychosis link since he admitted to using marijuana, increasingly, after his boating accident earlier in the year while he was in physical therapy for many months. I read that any mind-altering drug (and eventually he confessed once out of the locked unit) he had taken some other mind-altering drugs shortly before his “break” which did not show up on the toxicology report (and of course all his friends, and newlywed wife, who visited each night while he was on the locked unit, never bothered to confess what else they knew about my son’s drug use which definitely could have helped him not be boxed into the label “bipolar” especially with FEP). But young people stay silent at that age:( I was so worried my son might act on his impulse that this altered mental state was “so enlightening” so I did finally sit down with my son and his wife and shared the research on the link which was extensive even in ’09. But the literature search I shared was no match for my son’s out-pt p-doc, who now I believe fully knew about the cannabis-psychosis link, for some young brains is a catalyst. But why educate this young man, why acknowledge his mother’s concerns about this link, just brainwash all of us that he was mentally ill for life, and soothe his fears ” a little marijuana never hurt anyone” to a young man who had already suffered some form of a severe emotional crisis. I don’t know what or if you ever used any chemical at the age you had this extreme state, but the point I feel now is the MH industry must make an obligation to give every young person the opportunity to know (if they use any chemicals how it may alter their brain chemistry) and most importantly, how many people do suffer some similar extreme state in a lifetime. Help, hope and recovery should be the theme of the alternative model of MH care (IMO).

    I think Jonah your thinking was exactly my son’s thinking but what started out as an experience that Sean Blackwell explains changed his life around, sadly my son wasn’t led into any Buddhist type of lifestyle. I did read that meditation, yoga- these alternative holistic approaches are very healing. But the time moved quickly between the 18 months before his brain spun out again. I just never believed it would ever happen again, since my son was just such a healthy, down-to-earth, well loved human being. Trust me, I was not a perfect mother and he would be the first to remind me he was fallible. But I thought he was so on his way to a successful, meaningful, full life as he was just starting to reach for the stars at age 23 when out of nowhere, his life unraveled. ( Who knows if/how much his bad knee injury, earlier in ’09, was a factor but we thought he was healing and recovering). Again, when a young person encounters, virtually, overnight ” a sea of stressors” including the marriage when he never shared that all summer he kept asking her to postpone it until his knee injury was completely recovered. If only, he would have told us. I was the one that sat both of them down after his injury, before surgery, and highly suggested they postpone the wedding but my son sat there mute while that young woman made me feel I was meddling in their affairs, that it was not my business.

    I think I see how you found that strength, Jonah. I believe it may have saved your life. I, too, thought my son’s request to return to nature and in a place of such beauty (even when he was married his wife told me my son wanted to move them up there) to start “anew” was healthy. His psychologist also gave the thumbs up approval. It’s absolutely impossible that my son ended his life in our family cabin that held so many years of wonderful memories. How he could have so carefully planned his exit (and he did to the last detail) while not crying out for help to anyone, just seems impossible even two years later. My son joined AA as I mentioned, never touched a substance since moving there (his tox report was clear) and he had weaned himself off the anti-anxiety and mood-stablizing meds about the time he moved away (the p-doc actually took him off the antipsychotic med immediately after he was released which boggled my mind considering he was still in an altered state, but started to vastly improve after the hospital “dumped” my son (before he got a day of drug rehab) by just being home with his parents (since his young wife left him during the 2nd hospitalization which he didn’t know about until he came back home). Sometimes, as I repeat this story, it’s hard to fathom how one young man could have been leveled in so many ways, simultaneously.

    As I read about the same drugged, stuporous state you and my son both experienced, and all the horrific side effects you had Jonah- same ones my son had- just sooooo damn sad, and sooooooo wrong and disgusting why human beings are treated this way. My son got off his meds within a couple of months, moved away with the meds available if he needed them (but he hated their effects and quite honestly I never witnessed any benefit when he took them, just the opposite). So why did my son not survive when you did, Jonah? Was it the Buddhist practices of inner peace and serenity as opposed to AA’s intense introspection of one’s actions? Was it just pure loneliness as this young man had always centered himself all his life around friends and family? I just will never understand because if ever a person understood the effects suicide cause, it was my son. And that is why the answer he always gave everyone that ever asked if he could ever take his life, immediately and without blinking an eye “I could never do that to my family” and we truly believed him………… But I know from what he wrote in that sad, good-bye note hurting his family was not why he chose this exit. There was something so profound that took him to a place in his soul ” I can’t go on anymore”. My son took the factors behind that statement with him.

    I know you seem to relate to my son’s loss more than almost anyone I have met. I thank you for sharing such a part of your journey, just hope it hasn’t opened up deep wounds. I can see as I go further in my grief journey, I need to protect myself, too. I am just truly grateful for letting me understand the insights what led you where you went. I wish my son had met something that would have anchored him because as a mother or parent, you have such innate instincts. And my instincts told me this young man was so strong, so loved and loved so many people in his young life- never will I come to accept what happened. I simply believe something far stronger than the forces on earth took him from me, from a family that is forever wounded. We truly lost a part of ourselves.

  • Jonah- I read your deeply moving account of what happened to you so long ago, close to the age my son was hospitalized. If he were alive, he would identify very closely with the forced drugging, the stigmatizing labels, the ” bad” medicine most definitely. Your stories have similar parallels.- your friends and his friends moved on with their lives…

    But as you know, somehow you broke free, 3 1/2 yrs later, indeed, so fortunate to be rid of Psychiatry. I guess I wonder how did you find the power, the strength to ” extract” yourself? I have wondered since my husband and I found our son 7 months after his second, and last psych hospitalization, where he never got the drug rehab I was guaranteed our son would receive if we, his family, convinced him to enter this facility. The coercion and way he was tricked to enter will haunt me forever. The admitting p-doc minimized the negative brain effects with my son’s return to cannabis which he tested + for, ignored the many stressors upon my son all the time this horrid p-doc was content to keep increasing his dosages of the multiples of drugs administered leaving my son in a drugged, stuporous state the longer he was deemed ” treatment resistive”. I honestly believed my son fought with everything he had spiritually to not let the drugging make him a zombie, until the many drugs used finally overcame him.

    Maybe, many decades ago when you were younger, the over drugging was bad, very bad then, but now from what I’m reading the poly-pharmacy used is even far more dangerous to today’s young brains whom Psychiatry’s desire is to control, at all costs. I’m honored to read the courageous battle you won, Jonah. You fought thru whatever internal battles caused your family and friends to stage that intervention, but then the emotional trauma inflicted upon you ( just like my son) was a nightmare which surely seemed to go on forever. I wish my son would have fought longer, reached out to us, who loved him beyond. I know he knew we would have gone to the ends of the earth, but something I believe overwhelmed his ability to see beyond the unbearable pain he must have felt to have taken his life. I will always believe this was an epic nightmare and if he had never touched pot, the healthy brain he had for the first 23 yrs of his life would have stayed that way. What young person could fathom using a ” recreational” drug that millions use commonly now, could lead to such a hellish encounter with such an evil, cruel MH system? But this is the truth, eventually the truth about how many young brains have been affected will surface.

    I’m so glad you are here to share how you made it You have a powerful story of survival to keep telling, Jonah.

  • Ted,
    Thank you for your kindness. I try to read as many articles that are most relevant to the issues I am most interested in. But I often cringe at some of the very antagonist blogging to some pf the authors. I appreciate each and everyone’s opinions on MIA, and I have tried to share the appreciation and knowledge I have gained from the MIA site. I realize how many people who blog have been horrifically harmed by the MH system. Honestly, when I blog most everyone who responds to my comments, though many disagree with the origin of my son’s (2) breakdowns have not personally attacked me. I am grateful beyond. I was brought up to respect the opinions of others, even if I don’t agree. I wish there was more civility in our world: can’t we agree to disagree?

    I wish to ask for more kindness towards one another, as you just responded so compassionately to mjk. I have met a wonderful (IMO) p-doc who I hired to review my son’s medical records and his insight and review of what the psych hosp did to my son has validated everything I witnessed happening to him. Until I met this p-doc, all the other p-docs from both of my son’s locked hosp and out-ot f/u, I felt there wasn’t a decent p-doc practicing. But I have read some of the p-docs who blog but the hostility is troubling, IMO. I can’t convince the p-doc I met to write for MIA. I would love for him to share how he would have treated my son in his practice (says the worst place to take anyone in severe emotional crisis is to a psych hosp). But I respect that his comfort level for writing on MIA is not there yet.

    Most know I lost my first-born son, I feel there isn’t enough kindness and respect for people in this crazy world today. I’m on this site now because I want to be part of the change I envision needs to happen in MH. I have one small voice, but in my son’s memory I hope, one day, there will be alternative programs to offer a person and let help, hope and recovery reign.

  • Jonah,
    First, I want to thank you for your kindness. As I have often expressed here with my MIA ” family” I believe the educ I immersed myself in has led me to the conclusions I express- from all I have read since, Oct 2009, date of my then 23 y/o son’s ( overnight) descent into madness and the night he confessed that he had been using cannabis( just about the only comment that evening that sounded ” normal” as his thinking was completely delusional, his hallucinations were horrific-absolutely the most frightening behavior my husband and I ever have ever witnessed in each of our 53 yrs on earth). We drove helplessly around with our son, in the backseat of our car, that night after picking him up from the medical center where the police took him after his newlywed wife and her mother called 911 because his behavior was so bizarre. That hospital with just a mental health tech on duty refused to admit our son, despite he sounded like an alien from outer space. At least by the time, we, his parents showed up at that first hosp, as the tech had called for a taxi in the wee hrs of the morning, our son gladly came with us. Long story short ( pls read more of my comments because I am an open book here at MIA) we finally got our son, several hrs later, into another psych hospital which (indeed, I will have guilt the rest of my life for believing the MH was a beacon of hope and compassion for a young person, in the throes of IMO a complete breakdown) was the help we desperately we’re seeking for him. And because that hospital, after my son was locked up, and chemically assaulted, plus beaten by the staff the night he entered for trying to escape( again, the most “normal” reaction any human being would have after being two secs in that hellhole), when he suffered his 2nd ” episode” 18 months later ( after returning to cannabis- the only substance on his toxicology reports each of the two hosp), I refused to consider putting him back in that 1st locked psych center, So, I researched the best drug rehab center in this area an hr away from where we live (also based on another family we met whose young son also had several ” episodes of psychosis” – also had been using cannabis- his positive experience in this drug rehab program getting off cannabis was the hope and help I believed my son needed) which had been positively assoc with a high profile p-doc and his “celebrity” clients. Just that this facility despite my behind the scenes effort with this drug rehab the day before my family helped finally convince my son to enter drug treatment, since he had gone back to using cannabis, he was deceptively tricked into moving to their locked unit. In spite of us driving an hour and half away from the first hosp18 months earlier where he had been so violated. How could two psych hosp/ drug rehabs, both, have not helped ( just made his psychosis go over the edge) my beautiful boy? This time, this facility put $15,000 on our credit card because I was gullible enough to believe the lies told to me by the Coordinator the day before, as I set up his admission for their drug rehab program.
    Sad, just yesterday, I finally got word from the the Dept of Pt Rights in the County where this drug rehab/psych center is since I had requested an investigation into how my son, who entered purely for drug rehab, and we gave our credit card ($15,000 was charged) to this drug rehab/psych center, plus the PPO ins my son had, they found no evidence that my son’s rights were violated!!! Really? Pls read past comments on MIA to realize that since my son’s medical records were not released by this hospital’s attorneys until AFTER the statue of limitations expired, the only recourse was to request an internal investigation from the Dept of Pt Rights. Interesting, the Dept of Pt Rights never contacted me once….how could they know fact from the blatant lies theoughout my son’s medical records unless they cared enough to search for the truth since I alleged so much of the violations include mistruths, ignorance from the p-doc who clearly did not know my son, his incorrect H& P, the stressors that led up to a 2nd break, and how these stressors( most definitely why using a psychoactive drug fuels some young brains into psychosis) were ignored. Violations run rampant thruout my son’s 170 pgs of the 13 dys he was locked inside, but because my son” voluntarily” entered for the drug rehab I, personally arranged, and gave our credit card since it was ” out of network” and the only way my son could be admitted was IF we, his parents, agreed to pay along with his PPO ins. But my son never got the drug rehab, we, his family guaranteed and promised him, based on the hrs of communication I had with the Coordinator the day before. Less than 24 hrs from being admitted, escorted by family, my son was whisked into their locked unit, deceptively…and the entire 13 days he was coerced ( the Dept of Pt Rights says no evidence) despite he immediately tried to pull the fire alarm once he realized he had been deceived into entering a locked unit, AWOL precautions put upon him and imagine the massive drugging now. The Dept of Pt Rights prefers to conclude my son’s behavior was psychotic instead of the truth, despite being in psychosis, he knew what locked psych centers inflict upon all that enter, so he tried to ESCAPE, pull the fire alarm!! Brilliant, wish every night we visited our son he had told us what was happening, but he was soooo drugged, didn’t hardly acknowledge us each visit, as I was begging for call backs and imploring the staff to have the p-doc contact us( and yes his HIPAA was waived from admission). These hospitals know the way to cash in on young people in an emotional crisis, drug ‘me into a stuporous state, ignore the pt and family pleas…provide worthless services, ignore cries/desperate pleas from both pt and family ( I know what my son faced and suffered since I have his medical records finally). This is the American MH system, but absolutely if my son had never ventured into a chemical substance that alters some young brains, I wouldn’t truly be begging society to just look at the evidence about the genetically altered marijuana plant.

    The point is if you read all my comments at MIA, I absolutely hold the tainted and flawed MH system fully accountable, too. BUT THE FACT IS (IMO) IF MY SON HAD NEVER TOUCHED THE PSYCHOACTIVE CANNABIS DRUG WHICH( IMO) FUELED YET A 2ND BREAK, THERE WOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN TWO CATASTROPHIC ENCOUNTERS WITH THE MH SYSTEM. And without sharing too much of the personal last words my son left us, before he chose to end his life, one line is forever etched into my mind” my choices got me to this point”. I dare say, my son’s choices included using marijuana, the plant he assumed was ” harmless”. Really? Here is a review of how the use of cannabis, on his vulnerable brain ( though NO family h/o severe MI) along with the despicable MH system resulted in his catastrophic end. Yes, this story is murky, very complex but if he had never touched a mind-altering drug I believe my son would be alive and thriving today.
    Comment on Sandra Steingard Article Questioning Psych Meds Published in WaPo

    Maria, The info you shared is powerful. I was aware of the facts, such as the oxidative stress and mitichondrial damage from certain drugs. It’s one of the many reasons, once my son’s psychosis abated, I didn’t argue when he was determined ( and successfully did) wean himself off Depakote and Zypexa. Sadly, returning to using the same drug, cannabis, he was using at the time of his 1st break, it once again ( IMO) fueled a 2nd break. There was a 18 month window b/t psych breaks that this young man of mine seemed 100% ” normal” beyond any doubt. There is no question, in my mind, the very bi-products formed from psychotropic drugs must be similar to “recreational” drugs, like cannabis and other ones with psychoactive ingredients ( in those with vulnerable young brains< 25 yrs old) which harm the brain cells. Listening to the video (2009) with Dr. Gary Kohls is heartbreaking that if my family and I had not taken our son to the psych hospital, in the throes of his breakdown, good chance as in the 3rd world nations (without access to health care), he would likely have recovered, in time, from his FEP. This exact scenario happened to a client's cousin, twenty yrs ago. The family took the then 20+ y/o male, who had been substance abusing, to Mexico watching over his care in a one room shack where the cousin was given shelter, food, love and compassion NO meds, NO hospitalization. The family kept him out of harm's way, one month later his psychosis resolved. This man is alive, functional, and thriving decades later. My son made a grave mistake assuming the substance, cannabis, others around him did especially in todays culture of common pot use. But I still can't comprehend what I have learned since, and certainly the many studies about the psychosis-cannabis link, even in 2009 (which I was waving at the " experts") was ignored and denied. A functional young man, age 23, who had just married 2 months prior, with a hx of NO severe MI, would be boxed into a lifelong, genetic disorder of "bipolar for life, meds for life". I have never viewed society in the sad light I do now. How could my son have been so irreparably harmed? I never believed the lies he was told, not ever. I just couldn't put it together in time. I just hope p-docs like Sandra Steingard, who obviously care, are mad as hell now the truth is being exposed. Surely, with the knowledge available, how tainted the current MH system is, some influential souls couldn't empower like-minded politicians to divert MH funds into alternative ( more cost efficient – always a buzz word) models of mental health care? These alternative programs already exist in the U.S.
    Jonah, what I would give to be allowed a " do-over" knowing what I know now, but did not know then…..

  • http://blog.seattlepi.com/marijuana/2013/12/17/what-is-the-risk-of-becoming-schizophrenic-if-you-smoke-marijuana/#10529101=0


    Sorry that my 25 y/o son isn’t alive to help answer the skeptics about the link b/t cannabis and psychosis. My son with NO family history of severe MI, who didn’t start using cannabis until age 19, also sadly believed “pot is harmless, it’s a natural plant” as he told my husband and me the night of his 1st breakdown. Really? Why does the literature support cannabis is not so harmless on certain young brains <age 25? How many studies keep returning to this cannabis-psychosis link? The Canadians just published their 4 yr national study about this subject and toured the country to get out the word to its youth since 30% of h.s use pot. The Canadians have posted several videos about this link: http://cannabisandpsychosis.ca/youth/#!prettyPhoto/1/

    I lost my first-born to the effects from what cannabis did to his brain. Who wants to sacrifice the next son or daughter? As this plant has been genetically altered, how many of kids who experiment know the ratio of THC:CBD? Can't we educate our kids (yes, I did share the studies I found about this link after my son emerged from psychosis but his p-doc told him "a little pot never hurt anyone"). Really?

  • Thx, Copy_Cat, though I’ve not seen this consumer complaint site, I am working on some other ways to expose the egregious experiences my son suffered. Eventually, I hope my efforts will bring attention to the naive public’s eyes. I thank you for your kindness and support. The MIA folks have (in the 12 months I joined this site) helped me begin to comprehend what my son endured. I have come to accept, his death could and should have been prevented. His catastrophic exposure to the MH system IMO caused him irreparable harm.

  • Sera,
    As I re-read another one of your brilliantly written posts on MIA, I come back to this paragraph:
    “All this said, I hear from desperate parents, friends and other family on a fairly regular basis and it’’s hard to fault them for turning to the system and asking for forceful intervention when desperation looms. It’s hard for me to imagine that I wouldn’’t lose all objectivity and contradict myself in a matter of seconds if it were my own child. Or husband. Or close friend.”

    Yes, trust me, in Oct, 2009 I was the mom who came face-to- face with this desperate crisis. My 23 y/o son, just two months after marrying his longtime girlfriend ((with 125 family and friends gathered to celebrate this momentous occasion) should have been at the pinnacle of life. imagine as a mom getting a phone call from your dtr-in-law’s mother at 2:00 a.m. from their apt as she had arrived and called the police on my son’s sudden erratic, frightening behavior. What? Imagine, the horror that goes thru your mind as a parent? Before my husband hung up the phone, I had thrown on day clothes and was out the door to find and try to understand the unthinkable about my son, as my husband is shouting that my son’s mother-in- law said our son went peacefully with the police, and not to worry he was in ” safe” hands. Nothing in my life prepared us for the next six hours of hell, finding our boy, who was being released from the county hospital where the police take people in the night. The police had no reason to charge him, as he had always been a law-abiding citizen. I still believe the young psych tech on duty (no p-doc staffing in the night) truly had my son’s best interest, in retrospect, as we found our son outside waiting for a taxi the tech had called. What’? Where would my son have gone? The tech told us he called for a taxi as no one on my son’s list of friends had answered the call back!!! It’s now 4:00 a.m., so I’m triaging in my own out-of-body experience listening to my beautiful son sound like he is some alien from outer space. I run back inside the county hosp holding area and do everything possible – beg, cry that my never before, always healthy, son needs HELP!!! Please, this mom is soooo frightened – where is my fun-loving, functional, charismatic, kind, bigger-than-life son, surely the young man that looks just like my 23 y/o son but sounds out-of- his mind can’t be the same person? How/where/who can help him if this hospital shuts the door in his face?

    And that is the beginning of the horror which began Oct, 2009. Sadly, the two different hospitals who did accept our son over the 18 months between each breakdown( nervous breakdown, the BEST description to me) though each ” episode” was truly delusional, grandiose, paranoid in psych terms, both times his tox report + for cannabis (and after the 1st locked psych hosp my son admitted to using one-time Magic Mushrooms, several wks before he went ” crazy”). Rush to judge, label, force drug with massive psychotropics… but honestly, neither my husband or I knew what to do that first night in 2009 except find another psych hosp that would hear our pleas to help our son. Did I think the next hosp that Oct. night, after hours of driving in the dark, with our son trying to jump out of the car on the 101 fwy, would end up being a step back to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest? I won’t chronicle, again, what I have blogged too many times on MIA but suffice it to say, our son endured a life-changing nightmare each of the two places, 18 months apart, we believed help would be delivered.

    After the 1st psych locked experience, never did I feel my son would have another ” episode” but when it tragically did happen the second time, 18 months later, I felt absolutely the drug rehab program I contacted would, for sure, honor it’s promise and guarantee that I was given the day before my son ” voluntarily” admitted himself( with his grandfather and uncle alongside for added support). Imagine, being a parent with NO hx of MI, no knowledge how “the MH system” is so tainted and broken. Naive, stupid me believed detailing the drug rehab facility with info on my son’s PPO ins, plus our credit card, and their promise( I gave details on my son’s 1st hosp, dx, psychotropic Rxs he took for 5 months until his psychosis abated) my son would ONLY receive the drug educ this facility prided itself on ” we teach our pts who have been given bipolar or schizophrenic dx that the drugs they’ve used mimic MI”. What parent wouldn’t believe these words? When your now 24 y/o son is back experiencing some severe emotional crisis just where does the family turn? We never found a safe sanctuary as in Mass. Believe me, we had sought guidance from two psychologists, one was even a trusted friend of many decades. Neither therapist believed my son was ” bipolar for life, meds for life”. I was thrilled my son, after his 1st breakdown, 5 months while accepting the medical model of psychiatric care his young wife and her mother believed were gospel, our son found the strength to leave the out-pt p-doc who had brainwashed him insisting though he came out of psychosis he was ” forever mentally ill”. My son weaned himself, slowly, off those toxic meds ( which I never felt helped him at all, especially as my son witnessed the horrific side effects day-by-day).

    But I have NO answers what really happened to him, we all believed he was healthy again so once he opted to move 5 hrs away, near Yosemite, to ” heal and start anew” after all that life had thrown at him( including his wife of 20 months leaving him during the 2nd psych hosp, sadly adding betrayal with her new lover, despite he was slowly coming out of his 2nd psychosis) thought he was going away to seek sanctuary in an area of nature our family has been comforted by for a decade.

    My husband and I will never fully recover from finding our son’s body, five months after he left the community he grew up in. Seven months earlier, our son had overcome the traumatic 2nd hosp, though admitted only for their drug rehab, he was deceptively moved into their locked unit and kept 13 days against his will ( though his medical records I recently obtained show ” voluntary”). I believe my son was hit with the perfect storm and he was too frightened to call any of us, fearing if he honestly shared his feelings, we would find yet a 3rd facility of horrors. Indeed, I found out after my son’s death, he had told the psychologist who was treating him before he moved away ” Doc, I could never end up in one of those places again.”

    Sera, with your lived experiences, and wisdom, you, would know how to help your ” child” if this crisis were to occur. God, I wish I had had something in my life that would have helped me save my son( or the professionals we sought had known about the alternative communities) when we were seeking, desperate direction. But we live in So CA and did not find how or where to get our son the right help. We believed he, though living alone and isolated, would let nature in the wooded community be a source of healing. Of course, intellectually, I was concerned, but it was my son’s choice to start ” anew”, join AA, and because he never touched another substance I truly believed this, alone, would help heal his brain.

    New Years Day, 2012, was the last dy his father and I saw our son, alive. I will never wrap my head around our last visit to our family cabin, where our son moved to, as he was so himself, the laughing, the bantering back-and-forth on Néw Year’s Eve, just like all the yrs we have all our family memories taking our boy’s friends, and family, year after year. How could our son who seemed so healthy, so ” normal”, so himself after all he had overcome be the same body that hung himself, 12 days later??? This is the nightmare my family, his many friends and I live with forever.

    Please keep writing, sharing, reaching out because unsuspecting families are desperate for the answers and support that eluded my beautiful first-born son. I envision, one day, alternative communities will exist in EVERY community when a person suffers some form of emotional crisis. You, Sera, have such vision- and hopefully- influence and persuasion to further this movement along. No mother, no parent, no sibling, no grandparent….no family should experience what we have suffered.

  • Maria,
    The info you shared is powerful. I was aware of the facts, such as the oxidative stress and mitichondrial damage from certain drugs. It’s one of the many reasons, once my son’s psychosis abated, I didn’t argue when he was determined ( and successfully did) wean himself off Depakote and Zypexa. Sadly, returning to using the same drug, cannabis, he was using at the time of his 1st break, it once again ( IMO) fueled a 2nd break. There was a 18 month window b/t psych breaks that this young man of mine seemed 100% ” normal” beyond any doubt. There is no question, in my mind, the very bi-products formed from psychotropic drugs must be similar to “recreational” drugs, like cannabis and other ones with psychoactive ingredients ( in those with vulnerable young brains< 25 yrs old) which harm the brain cells. Listening to the video (2009) with Dr. Gary Kohls is heartbreaking that if my family and I had not taken our son to the psych hospital, in the throes of his breakdown, good chance as in the 3rd world nations (without access to health care), he would likely have recovered, in time, from his FEP. This exact scenario happened to a client's cousin, twenty yrs ago. The family took the then 20+ y/o male, who had been substance abusing, to Mexico watching over his care in a one room shack where the cousin was given shelter, food, love and compassion NO meds, NO hospitalization. The family kept him out of harm's way, one month later his psychosis resolved. This man is alive, functional, and thriving decades later.

    My son made a grave mistake assuming the substance, cannabis, others around him did especially in todays culture of common pot use. But I still can't comprehend what I have learned since, and certainly the many studies about the psychosis-cannabis link, even in 2009 (which I was waving at the " experts") was ignored and denied. A functional young man, age 23, who had just married 2 months prior, with a hx of NO severe MI, would be boxed into a lifelong, genetic disorder of "bipolar for life, meds for life". I have never viewed society in the sad light I do now. How could my son have been so irreparably harmed? I never believed the lies he was told, not ever. I just couldn't put it together in time.

    I just hope p-docs like Sandra Steingard, who obviously care, are mad as hell now the truth is being exposed. Surely, with the knowledge available, how tainted the current MH system is, some influential souls couldn't empower like-minded politicians to divert MH funds into alternative ( more cost efficient – always a buzz word) models of mental health care? These alternative programs already exist in the U.S.

  • Oh, yes, Maria I can only imagine what our fate would have been if we had lived 300+ years ago during the witch trials. Thanks for being such an admirable voice of reason and for representing those of us who now do our best to speak out against the egregious harms our “children” have suffered especially at the hands of the tainted MH system. Just today, I came across the d/c summary from my son’s locked psych (supposedly )”voluntary” stay (though the records I obtained speak for themselves- once deceptively tricked to go inside he pulled the fire alarm to try to escape). Imagine what happened to my son at that point:( As I re-read the discharge summary, my anger swells. The p-doc from his errors and blatant arrogance churned out yet another summary on someone he clearly knew nothing about…. there are so many mistruths on the report. What did it matter that this p-doc after 13 days of “caring” for my son had no clue who my son was, what the stressors were in his young life, or how the psychoactive “recreational” drug he tested + (cannabis) for had altered his brain. The proof is in the summary. Sad, that this “professional” cared so little as to call one of the family (HIPAA waived) on my son’s admission form (clearly identified) or the psychologist whose care my son had been under? Nope, rush to judge, label, massively overdrug, then “dump” once my son’s insurance refused further stay
    and the $15,000 we, his parents, forked over upon admission. The biggest joke is the H&P by the p-doc and the med doctor are in complete contrast. The p-doc had so many contradictions, so sad this how “the system” is allowed to operate.

    Sending warmest wishes at Christmas, though without the children that we created and bore in our lives, it is not the same. I know- today- Dec 13th is the 23rd month that my son took his life, shattering the world my husband and I built around our two boys. Nothing is the same, but somehow, resilience and strength propel us forward. I truly believe, as you have shown, we can make a difference in our sons’ memories.

  • Maria, thank you for sharing the BMJ guidelines for the Best Practice Std of Care. I was not familiar and find this very relevant. This is one of the reasons I feel so indebted to Bob Whitaker and the MIA crowd, professionals like Sandra, and the psych survivors, as well as the families, like mine, as we can all learn from each other. (I work in Nephrology and my patients often share some interesting research they inquire about that peaks my interest and follow-up.) I love that the MIA crowd helps one other, we can all gain so much insight into the intricate web of the human brain. Again, thank you so much for sharing this info.

  • One of the beloved MIA authors and bloggers recently suggested I contact NAMI since he believes there have been chgs at the top as this organization is realizing the truth about the MH system. I have not contacted NAMI yet, but found the following NAMI blog, dated 2011, by the Medical Director. Seems NAMI also is linking the use of MJ, in vulnerable young brains, to psychosis:

    Thursday, March 31, 2011

    Marijuana and the Risk of Schizophrenia
    by Ken Duckworth, M.D.
    NAMI Medical Director

    The ongoing link between use of marijuana in teens and the increased risk of developing schizophrenia has been further developed in a recent Dutch study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and has re-ignited that area of interest. This study has important public health implications, because our capacity to prevent psychiatric illnesses is severely limited-although a recent small Omega-3 fatty acid study in the Archives of General Psychiatry suggests, in contrast, a protective impact.

    The BMJ study looked at young adults who were at risk for psychosis and found that the rate of conversion to the illness was 51 percent with marijuana users-compared with 26 percent of nonusers. This study builds upon a growing body of literature that is making this causative link. This build upon other studies-one of the most interesting to me was a study that made a case for delaying all experimentation—the study found that users before age 15 were 4.5 times more likely to develop schizophrenia than nonsmokers, and those who delayed until age 18 had a risk of 1.6. This strongly suggests that, in addition to abstinence, delaying experimentation results in reduced risk.

    Why do some people have no issues with this choice while another subset will never be the same after use? We do not know for sure, but interest has been growing on looking at generic variability. A gene variation in the metabolism of the neurochemicals dopamine may confer much of the risk. Unfortunately, there is not a test to determine if a group of teens will become symptomatic if they experiment. So all teens have an unknown but variable risk-a difficult area to impart wisdom in. It is very hard to be sure what the risk for use of marijuana is for any one teen, but use is clearly risky when you look at a population as a whole. This risk is even worse for kids with a family history of psychosis.

    As a father of three teen girls (who also has a history of bipolar disorder with psychosis in my genes), I do my best to share with my kids that, in my view, all drug experiments need to be delayed-or denied. Teens are notorious for not listening to parents and for not delaying gratification, so I can’t know what is actually getting through. I suspect it is less than I would like. Developing good decision-making skills is one of the key aspects of growing up, but there is no one way to get there. Learning by experimentation is one way, but as these studies show, the consequences can be much greater than anticipated.

    Knowing your family risk (e.g. of schizophrenia or alcoholism or diabetes) is a good perspective to share with your kids so that they know that drugs, alcohol and sugar are even more worrisome for them. What they do with that kind of information is beyond parental control. Like teaching teens to drive a car, you hope to model and impart experience, and then you wait as they learn. I encourage my kids and the people who live with mental illness whom I treat as a doctor to wear seat belts and to avoid drugs. Then like all parents, I hope for the best and do my best to coach as more data comes in on their choices. But there are no guarantees. In neurobiology–just like with driving vehicles–all we can do is work to lower the chance of complications.

    Posted by Katrina Gay at 5:40 PM
    *rachel* said…
    Thank you. My son was diagnosed with sz last year. An uncle on his fathers side has it severe and I hadn’t realized the risk until my son began to Have symptoms. My son to This day has a hard time accepting his diagnosis and thinks if he hadn’t started smoking pot the year before, he wouldn’t Have sz now. Of course, one will never know, but I am paying attention to articles Like yours in my desire to KNOW everything about my sons illness. Thank you.
    March 31, 2011 at 5:48 PM
    Cole said…
    Very interesting Dr. Duckworth. I recreationally used marijuana in h.s. and college–only one ever few months if even that. Last May I had a really bad trip that led me to the psychologists office because of overwhelming paranoid and anxious thoughts. After almost one year I am finally no longer visiting but I will have to deal with the experience the rest of my life.

    Politics aside, we need to get this kind of information out in the open to the public so that individuals can make the best personal decision for themselves.
    March 31, 2011 at 5:52 PM
    Cole said…
    Very interesting Dr. Duckworth. I recreationally used marijuana in h.s. and college–only one ever few months if even that. Last May I had a really bad trip that led me to the psychologists office because of overwhelming paranoid and anxious thoughts. After almost one year I am finally no longer visiting but I will have to deal with the experience the rest of my life.

    Politics aside, we need to get this kind of information out in the open to the public so that individuals can make the best personal decision for themselves.
    March 31, 2011 at 5:55 PM
    Patjeff said…
    If marijuana use increases the risk of schizophrenia, then why hasn’t its prevalence increased since marijuana use became widespread in the late 1960s?

    And why do countries with very low rates of marijuana use (e.g. Japan) have virtually identical rates of schizophrenia as countries with very high rates of marijuana use (e.g. the USA)?
    April 1, 2011 at 2:17 AM
    Anonymous said…
    I highly suspect that Marijuana played a role in my son developing Schizophrenia. He started using Marijuana around age 13 and became a heavy user around 15. He started developing pyschotic symptoms when he was 16. Unfortunately, he committed suicide prior to being officially diagnosed with any mental health disorder, but he was showing many of the signs of Schizophrenia such as hearing voices, delusions of grandior, et.)
    April 1, 2011 at 11:45 AM
    Tupsy said…
    My ex husband has recently been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia after many years of anxiety, fear, paranoia, hostility and nightmares. It is at least good to now understand why he behaved the way he did during our marriage. When he was 14 he and some mates got into smoking marijuana quite heavily for a short time. Then he joined the army at 18 and had no more interest in smoking dope or taking any other drugs (except tobacco). So the theory of the marijuana triggering schizophrenia absolutely fits in his case.
    Thank you for this
    April 5, 2011 at 12:04 AM
    Tupsy said…
    Do you know of any evidence for marijuana triggering bi-polar disorder?
    April 5, 2011 at 12:05 AM
    Anonymous said…
    this is popostris they have been trying to find something wrong with marijuana since it has been introduced to the world populous.
    April 7, 2011 at 12:56 PM
    man hair loss said…
    wow, very informative… its nice to actually know what marijuana can do to users and not just say that they’re high… i can still remember when i was in college and everything seem to be just a “trial basis” being high would be a great experience especially when you’re depress, but other than that, i learned, it isn’t all that worth it really…
    April 8, 2011 at 3:16 AM
    Catherine said…
    The report abstract states: Conclusion Cannabis use is a risk factor for the development of incident psychotic symptoms. Continued cannabis use might increase the risk for psychotic disorder by impacting on the persistence of symptoms.

    This is not about schizophrenia.
    April 8, 2011 at 2:36 PM
    Anonymous said…
    I am convinced about the link between cannabis and bipolar/schizophrenia disorder. There is a case study in the Journal Psychiatry 2009 volume 6 number 12, December 1 ” Cannabis induced Bipolar disorder with psychotic features: a case report”. It is unfortunate that some young adults will develop the disorder after heavy use while others are not affected. My son is one of those who is paying the price of his use as an adolescent.
    April 18, 2011 at 11:05 AM
    Anonymous said…
    I recently did a reseach paper on this very topic. It is an interesting topic and raises some questions. Thought I feel that there truly is a link between smoking marijuana and schizophrenia we need to remember that there are other risk factors such as age, gender,gentics amoung other things. I also think that medical marijuana is fine but must ask are doctors taking a full medical history before giving to patients? Are doctors taking the schizophrenia risk factors into consideration when prescribing marijuana to patients? I think it is important to think about these things before someone uses the drug and if you have risk factors or due in fact have schizophrenia you should avoid using marijuana.
    May 1, 2011 at 12:47 PM
    HexagonGroup said…
    Omega 3 fatty acids and other Essential Fatty Acids are vital to protect against mental misfires. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is like “raking the board” to use a special effects explosives metaphor. Instead of the slow release of some rather exotic fats by the brain in the normal course of functioning, THC releases all those hard-to-replace exotic fat fractions all at once. Chaotic brain firing ensues, and the Hippocampus (memory) and Pre-Frontal Cortex (judgment) get scrambled messages. Studies have not shown Hippocampus atrophy from stress hormones/cortisol as affected by THC. But stress causes Hippocampus damage, literal brain damage. Throw pot in on top of that and otherwise healthy people, possible abuse victims as children, can get screwy. One of the best sources of the exotic EFA’s stripped out by THC is…hemp oil. Yep. The very thing that compromises the brain when ingested can bolster brain function. One may also note the role of digestion. Those with low stomach acid, a tendency in Native American and Irish populations, or those having poor digestion, may not be able to pull out the Essential Fatty Acids from their food! So many mental aberrations can be caused by poor digestion, hence the title of my piece, “You’re Nuts Because of Your Guts.” Over 70% of mid-brain chemicals are made in the gut, and this may be the X factor in the pot psychosis mystery. Our modern diet is full of trash fats, and it is like giving a starving dog a rubber bone. Eat raw oils and a good well-marbled organic ribeye steak now and again. Enjoy a poached organic egg yolk, full of lecithin/choline, or take soy lecithin if you tolerate soy well. Take purified Omega 3 fish oils that have had the mercury removed or eat organic walnuts, chewing well. Supplement with lipase to digest fats and oils. Feed your fat head–the brain is made up of lipo-protein, fat-linked proteins. GBU! PS Modern pot is now a hybrid of Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica, formerly called ditch weed. Ditch weed causes headaches and sinus infections when smoked, and gives that skunk smell. Users report less intense orgasm, btw, probably a result of the phyto-estrogen content. Oy.
    January 2, 2012 at 11:07 AM
    Rusty Covey said…
    I have to disagree with this finding, they would have gotten worse with time.
    I have lived with this condition since the age of 10, I couldn’t stop the images from appearing.
    I started smoking marijuana at age thirteen and also learning how to read and write. My schizophrenia went away completely.
    A guy named WG with severe paranoia-schizophrenia, when he smoked marijuana he was able to relax and get into the moment.
    Another named CR, didn’t experience schizophrenia when he was high. But, when he used crank it would bring out this condition.
    Thus, were these test subjects free of stress. Stress seems to be a precursor to developing an episode of schizophrenia.
    Marijuana should be reducing stress, so, makes me wonder how the test subject were before the testing, how long did they actually allow the test to be done with the same subject and was there any type of therapy.
    By the way I teach The Nine Essential Qualities of Mindfulness along with The Five Sense Therapy.
    January 29, 2013 at 7:32 PM
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  • Hi Sean,
    Actually, I had found your videos that were on the internet while my son was dealing with the two breakdowns, 18 months apart. I so wanted to share the link with him, but the genius “experts” advised against it. Since I had never seen or dealt with anyone before having these two psych breaks, I felt I had to listen to authority. I work in health care, and any disease (except MI) I am well versed in. I was reading and searching for everything that could help me understand how/why my son, age 23, went almost overnight into this bizarre, delusional behavior. No family hx, and for this young man who truly had loved life as he did, never a second of depression growing up, the bipolar one dx didn’t fit IMO (even with psychotic features). I found your videos and ALL the clinical studies linking the obvious for some vulnerable young brains: cannabis-psychosis. But my voice of reason was SHOUT DOWN by the “experts”. Imagine his out pt p-doc even suggested to a young brain who had spent 10 wks in psychosis (despite the barrage of meds forced upon him) ” a little pot never hurt anyone”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Trust me, I have encountered too many pot loving zealots who attack me. Fine, there is nothing anyone could do to me now. I lost my firstborn son and my close knit family is devastated. From- yes- a freaking drug that has become part of the culture (as the Canadians thankfully are sharing). Wake up society- whose son or daughter is next????????

    Sorry you had to close the comments section attached to your wonderful video. It is so perfectedly illustrated, this should be shown in every Health classroom across America (and globally before we lose more young brains). If the Canadian research is correct, 40% of those young brains who are vulnerable to mind-altering psychoactive substances, this is frightening beyond. And that is why my son’s death needs to be told. How could he have known his brain was vulnerable? Until some blood test or genotyping becomes available, I tell this young generation “it’s a gamble with your mind”. And it may be too late once those brain changes occur.
    You have ALL the scientific proof, plus the people (like in the Canadian 4 yr study) you’ve interviewed and I have the death of my son that I say LOUDLY to everyone “related to the psychoactive ingredients in the cannabis he used as it led to MH changes”. Do I believe my son shouldn’t have died. Absolutely, but the tainted MH system took his hope and dreams that he could fully recover away from him. The evil association from both my son’s use of cannabis and the despicable MH industry IMO led to the tragic death of my 25 y/o son, almost 23 months ago.

  • Your ability to still care about the research as it changes speaks volumes to me. I still recall a conversation I had with my then 24 y/o son, shortly after his last discharge. Both of his two psych breakdowns necessitated hospitalizations (though with the HELL he endured with each “voluntary” admission in hindsight the MH “system” just heaped more stress and irreparable harm) . “Mom, why isn’t there a doctor I could see who could give me meds if I need them for a short while, but then just do talk therapy the other times like when I meet with the psychologist. How can’t there be such a doctor?” Sadly, the only p-docs (in-pt and out-pt) he encountered (and trust me we did seek out others) solely focused on drugs, and lifelong drugging. The horrific side effects from Zyprexa (55lb wt gain over a 4 month period )on his recovering knee injury suffered shortly before his first break and his complaint his head felt “like I’m in a fog” once psychosis abated he chose to wean off these drugs. I swear my kid was himself again. You know if my son had met a p-doc like you, imagine he, maybe, could have been saved.

    Thanks for your reflection and your humanity, Sandra. I have met another p-doc (out-of-state) who I had review my son’s 170 pgs medical records of his last 10 day locked hospitalization. I now believe there are two p-docs that truly seem to care about helping people , like my son, who had two emotional breaks in an 18 month period. Healthy and “normal” for 23 yrs, nothing in our family history or my son’s beautiful life could have predicted the hell that followed. I don’t believe my son should have died. I believe the MH “system” should have helped him understand the complexities why young brains get altered from (IMO) a sea of stressors plus the psychactive THC in the cannabis he used (increasingly) after his injury. I see the hope you offer your patients by such honest dialogue. Doesn’t ever person who befalls such a crisis deserve nothing less?

    My son willingly took what the system dictated, but with only the mantra “meds for life, bipolar for life” he only returned for a few months after discharge to the out-pt p-doc, as he felt “the system” offered him no hope despite he recovered. I’m grateful to see you are the p-doc that my son suggested we find. Sadly, I couldn’t find any in time.

  • My goodness, I wish people, like my son, who have been harmed by cannabis, as well as the tainted MH system could come back to defend the life he led. Actually, my son had about the best life one could have until his first breakdown, two months after he married just shy of his 23rd b-day. Why did hundreds of people attend my son’s service and all claim” it’s impossible this happened”. Nothing in his childhood included sexual abuse. The untimely death of his grandfather who was already in his 80s around the start of my son’s teen yrs did traumatize him, and all of family. But life is not without unforeseen stresses and my boys were taught sometimes you have to navigate around obstacles. My son, and his family, have nothing to hide by telling the truth. I think knowing who this young man was propels me onward to shout out – no, there was no traumatic childhood abuses, no, he did not use cannabis before he graduated h.s., no there is no family history of any severe MI. Yet, the last 2+ yrs of my son’s life ( he died at age 25) spiraled down so quickly. Cannabis, a drug with known psychoactive effects, was the catalyst that so negatively impacted the healthy brain he was born with.

    Last yr for what should have been his 26th birthday, some of his friends posted a 15 min YouTube video of my son’s happy, joyful, productive, fulfilling though all-too-brief life. What a tribute to my son. His life from the day he was born was rich with so much love, opportunity, adventure, so many friends, and a tight-knit family that forever mourns his death. It’s time to start educating the unsuspecting youth because the truth was denied my son.

  • Maria,
    I thought of you and your precious Toran tonight at the The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting tonight which is the annual event where persons around the globe light candles for one hour to honor children who have died. The candles are lit at 7 p.m. local time, starting in New Zealand. It reminds each of us about our love for our children, gone far too soon. As candles burn down in each time zone, they are then lit in the next. This creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as the observance continues around the world. Just hoping you are familiar with this organization and if so, that it brings you the love and support from others who have lost a child.
    And thank you for sharing your observations of the environmental link from cannabis to suicide. It amazes me to read the critical blogging from the pro cannabis supporters. We know the factors that took our beloved son’s from us, and as a result of the pain we suffer just want to spare the next son or daughter. This young generation has no awareness how drugs ( illicit or prescription) impact their developing brains.

  • Cannabis is now the most widely used addictive substance, after tobacco and alcohol (alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and cocaine use: findings from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. PLoS Med 2008;5 (7) e141. A recent article in the respected magazine, Scientific American “How Safe Is Recreational Marijuana?” (5-31-13) concluded “as more states make recreational MJ legal, researchers fret about short and long-term health effects”. The author did not mention or address the 893 entries listed on Pub Med that link the large body of research between recreational MJ and MI. The author was slammed by the pro-cannabis folks yet did not even explore the concern I raise since I lost my son (IMO) to the negative effects on his young brain from his recreational use of MJ including 2 psychotic breaks, ages 23 and 24- 18 months apart, precipitated by using MJ. My son didn’t believe the research I showed him after his brain re-normalized, 10 wks after his initial break. I guess hearing his out-pt p-doc tout the benefits that ” a little cannabis never hurt anyone” gave my son the ok to return to a mind-altering drug. And no, my son, did not suffer any traumatic abuse as a young child. But yes, he had a ” sea of stressors” hit him at age 22 including a serious boating injury with surgery and subsequent physical therapy to rehab his knee which in his idle time definitely propelled his use of more substances, cannabis mostly.

    Something triggered my son’s mental health deterioration. I’m so grateful to see the Schizophrenia Society of Canada reaching out to the public to bring awareness there is a disturbing assoc with use of cannabis and MH changes, in some young brains who ? possibly have a genetic predispostion. Someone suggested my family must have “weak brains” if my son’s brain succumbed to some MI. Okay, I’ll accept that but I WISH my son had at least known the risks are credible before he went near MJ. Shouldn’t everyone know the truth? My family ( with NO hx of severe MI) and even my son’s two great- grandmothers functioned well into their late 80s but we all never touched any drug that triggered MI. Do I need any further proof?

    I get that people over the history of time alter ther brain chemistry to have a good time, enjoy life more, or escape from their stresses. But since my deceased son, whose family is left in sorrow, is not here to tell his story (other than the terribly sad good-bye note he wrote us) about how ” his choices” led to his suicide, I will.
    And why when people like the reporter in SA question the change in brain health, to certain young developing brains <age 25 why do the pro- cannabis crowd question our justifiable concerns? It's not like I believe in the Big Pharma, hardly. My son did what we all believed was the best medicine – weaned off the psychotropics, got healthier joining AA, and did not return to any substance yet ended his life, shocking his family and friends, who absolutely still can not fathom this exit. My son's tox report was clean per the coroner report. Yet, he chose to end his life.

    It is only because of Whitaker's book which led me to MIA that I could start to digest the horrific trauma my son suffered because we, in desperation, when his mind unraveled truly overnight, twice in 18 months, mistakenly believed turning to the MH system would help him. It did not, simply put: the MH system leveled my son. Surely, the least I can do is educate others that my son's tragic descent into some horrific brain changes was tied to cannabis, and the equally egregious harm done to him by the sick and broken MH system. These catastrophic associations IMO led to his suicide.

  • Jonathan- when time allows pls do peruse the incredible interactive Canadian website listed above: see http://cannabisandpsychosis.ca/resources/video-clips/

    Follow the links to “The Downside of High” filmed in Vancouver and brilliantly narrated by David Suzuki, a well known and respected geneticist. This 45 min documentary explains the cannabis-psychosis link, including interviews with several leading, global researchers. This film aired Jan, 2010, but sadly not until my son’s beyond tragic suicide ( Jan ’12) did I view it. Mostly, because my son was quickly labeled ” bipolar for life, MI for life, meds for life” during his breakdown, 10-09, and the trailer for this film only showed the 2 main young adult males who were given the schizophrenia dx. Though my son’s symptoms never seemed IMO to be bipolar ( despite bipolar 1 includes psychotic features) ) he didn’t show any depression, rather his thinking was so bizarre, disorganized, and delusional from the rapid onset of his madness thru the 10 wks it took his brain to renormalize ( despite an antipsychotic and mood-stabilizer drugs started during the 10 dys inside a locked unit).

    Simply can’t say enough about my Northern neighbors in Canada, and their far reaching efforts to try to reach out to today’s youth. So profoundly sad, not in time to save my son, but hopefully the next son or daughter. Until a blood test or genotyping is available to isolate which young brain is vulnerable to cannabis, we all must ( including the young population, parents, teachers, coaches) and especially those in the field of MH, educate ourselves. I realize many drugs, like K-2/Spice, ‘ shrooms, LSD, peyote… also have psycho- active effects on the brain. It’s why IMO all the psych patients who test + for ANY chemical substance should absolutely be sent to a thoroughly vetted, competent drug rehab post discharge to educate them and ideally, persuade them never to touch another mind drug again. And this generation of youth engages in ” polysubstance use” further complicating the harmful assault on their young brains.

    The comment by the psych ” experts” to my then 23 yr old son whom they just dismissed as another MI victim, ” you’re ONLY a recreational marijuana user” truly cost my son his life.

  • Maria,
    Your latest blog leaves me in tears. I can so empathize with what you’ve so tragically experienced, the suicide of ” your deeply loved child hanging by a noose” . We both lost our beautiful sons, same way. Whether it was from an illicit mind- altering drug (in my son’s case it was cannabis) which is affecting more young susceptible brains or a prescribed psychotropic drug, as with your son- something catastrophically altered their brains.

    My heart is with you, Maria. To read what you then experienced a few weeks later in the throes of despair and grief, which every loving parent who experiences this horrific nightmare can only begin to fathom, it is gut-wrenching. I remain lost how society can treat victims, like you, who had just lost your precious boy, so callously. How could you be handcuffed by the police, then dragged and involuntarily committed to a psych hospital? Human suffering seems so acutely misunderstood by society, especially the way ” help” is given.

    Please know you have my deepest admiration for the strength you’ve shown in moving through your sorrow. Your writing pieces are so eloquently written. The CASPER organization you spearheaded to wake society up is such a tribute to your beloved son ‘s memory.

    Bless you Maria, and just know the love we have for our chilfdren, in the legacy of their significant, but all too brief lives, will sustain us. What we have witnessed and lost now we share with society to bring awareness, and ideally change.

  • Sadly, the blogger ” warmac” is a classic example of the boomer age opinion that echoes the societal perception that marijuana remains the ” benign” herb drug used in the ’60s and ’70s. If only this was true, it is not. Cross breeding and genetic manipulation of the cannabis plant now yields ” high octane” levels of the THC component- the psychoactive or mood-altering chemical which can and is causing devastating effects on particularly susceptible youth, whose brains < 25 yrs old are in the " neural pruning" phases of brain development. I only wish this 4 yr national study in Canada had been available to me, in 2009, when my then always heathy, beautiful 6'5" charismatic, friend to all, 23 yr old son, two months after getting married to his long- time girlfriend had a psychotic break necessitating a 10 dy locked psych admission. As my husband and I rode around in the wee hrs of the morn with our son because the police had taken him to the first psych unit, which declined to admit him, and released him to his parents care since his newlywed wife had called 911 out of fear as my son's behavior was suddenly bizarre and frightening. Indeed, we could not fathom what happened to the young man we so loved and had watched blossom into such a handsome, intelligent, loving, young adult with many successes already. (Honestly, our son had been recently hit by a sea of stressors but seemed to be weathering the storm well so we naively believed.) Our son, in his state of complete madness, out of nowhere, though not saying he was a danger to self or others, reason why the police had nothing to press charges for and the psych unit wouldn't take him. But trust me, my son's thoughts were from outer space. Desperate to seek proper treatment for our boy, we traveled to another psych hospital while our son, in the throes of a breakdown, shared that he'd been smoking " harmless" ( his words) marijuana, quite an admission since he was brought up by his parents to shun ALL drugs. It was the beginning of hell for my son, and his family. My son, just like millions of others had used marijuana ( to escape the stress of life, including a traumatic boating injury to his leg putting him on disability for a yr) believing the false perception, it was just a benign herb.

    I understand and am so grateful to the Canadians for embarking on a national campaign to wake up society to the effects of today's cannabis on certain young minds! Did any MI "expert" in both '09 and '11 believe cannabis which my son tested+ on his tox report had altered my son's brain- nope! The "experts" denied the hundreds of clinical studies about the cannabis-psychosis link because they preferred to spin MI and the junk psychotropic meds which just compounded my son's mental state and recovery. Sadly, trusting in (what I've since educated myself ) the tainted MH " death" system was the worst place to have taken my son as it was rush to judge, label, massively drug, warehouse with no compassionate support what led to a psychotic state. And his use of a psychoactive drug, yes- today's cannabis, absolutely IMO triggered my son's break. The MH " experts" dismissed cannabis fueled his break, in fact the out-pt doc supported " a little cannabis won't hurt anyone" to a young man who took 10 wks, despite the antipsychotic and mood-altering crap my son was prescribed ( that only altered his metabolism with massive wt gain and dulled his thinking), to emerge back to " normal". My son's life, until he got mixed up with cannabis, was the example of the rare person who lit up every room he entered. For the guy who loved life more than anyone I know, what could have led to his suicide? After his death 2 yrs later, including another psych break ( he returned to cannabis) and all that befell this young man that once had the world as his oyster, it's hard to wrap my head around it. But here is yet another national study, this time from Canada, about the alarming rate of psychosis from cannabis use happening in their country- up to 40% !!!!! How can any intelligent soul actually review the data accumulated and deny these facts? Just read any research study by Jim van Os, from the Netherlands, who is one of the best known researchers in schizophrenia. Or link to the cannabis-psychosis.ca interactive website and review the clinical findings.

    Since society seems to be increasing its insatiable desire to get high, at least let's start educating our youth that marijuana use is a game of Russian Roulette. Our family lines have NO hx of severe MI, noted as a high risk concern in this study. And no, my son, didn't begin his " recreational use" ( per the psych hosp evals) until after h,s. as his then appearing thoroughbred girlfriend, whom he married, loved the " natural" high from cannabis ( I later was told while my son was in a locked unit). How sad what my son's partner perceived as a good high, ended up leading my son into psychosis. Despite his brain recovering back to " normal" each time, exactly 10 wks later following his two breakdowns my son tragically ended his life, at age 25. Nothing could prepare my husband and myself for the horror of finding our son that tragic day, Jan 13, 2012, coincidentally on Friday, the 13th. The end of a nightmare for my poor boy which started because he had NO awareness that cannabis would take his beautiful brain and catastrophically alter it. At least the Schizophrenic Society of Canada is trying to spread awareness and spare others the hell my son endured from his belief marijuana was just " harmless".

    Until society accepts, today's genetically altered marijuana has the ability in certain young brains to create depression, anxiety, and like with my son, psychosis – there will be more lost souls taken out, and the families along with them.

  • Just want to add my one lone voice of reason. I have read a lot of awfully hostile comments directed at Jonathan who had the guts to write a piece that in my experience( witnessing the two horrific psych hospitalizations with my son in ’09 and ’11 as he was going further into some state of psychosis) is as accurate as he writes about. My son’s severe emotional crisis (twice) was IMO the result of the super strength THC he was using and tested positive for but many bloggers still question this association. And I respect everyone’s right to their opinion. I don’t think either hospitalizations ever gave my son any help, no compassion for sure. It was just rush to judge, dx, forcibly treat with massive drugs and warehouse while until my son’s PPO insurance (and let’s not forget the $15K we, his parents, ponied up the day before admission to be sure our son got the drug rehab we now believed he needed despite the first hospitalization ’09 telling us “he’s just a recreational cannabis user”). I would have loved to have had Jonathan’s help as I never met anyone, either of my son’s two hospitalizations that had knowledge, clarity, or compassion. Basically, in the 21st century of MH, there are no therapists from what I witnessed (and this is in two supposedly first rate psych centers/drug rehab in So CA) that care or offer support. The young social worker in’11 was terrified of the patients so hung on my sleeve to get the necessary paper work completed. No one asked my son “what happened to you?” or tried to understand the sea of stressors that led him to substance use. No one bothered to do the research that I have to done myself that yes, some susceptible brains especially <25 yrs can and are experiencing psychosis from cannabis.

    But I want to ask my fellow MIA bloggers- why are we shooting the messenger? Trust me, I did everything from taking my son to see his psychologist who recognized the start of mania, as sleep deprivation was huge. The therapist my son was seeing rec'd some idiot addiction specialist who ignored my son's pleas to help him get to sleep. (Apparently, this doc forgot basic Psych 101 that sleep itself can slow or abate psychosis). This doc preferred to push the toxic drugs again and recite to my son what the hospital in '09 had told him "once bipolar, always bipolar, MI for life, meds for life". But guess what? No, med for sleep!!!! So my son's psychosis worsened and despite the love we had for our then 24 y/o son we were frightened as his behavior became more bizarre, the delusions terrified us. My son was 6'5" and 230 lbs, his younger brother was just home from college and at 6'4" but leaner he, too, was overwhelmed with seeing his big brother whose brain was spinning out of orbit. After seeking help for a panic attack he had (again think cannabis drug related) in ER, no one offered any true support. In desperation, I contacted this drug rehab program who sold me a load of lies once I gave over the credit card. My son was terrified to go anywhere near another psych hospital after his experience in '09 but we promised, guaranteed he was only there for drug rehab as the hospital promised me. Lies, lies and more lies…. my son was not saying he was a danger to self or others (had NO history either) but was psychotic as I honestly shared before he was admitted. Please people, we are living in the 21st century of pathetic MH care, just how do you treat someone who is in such a frightening state of emotional crisis? My son was with us during the day, his young wife at night, but no matter we couldn't find a way to help his brain reset on our own!!!!!!!!!!!! My goal was to find a way to shut his brain off with sleep so putting him in for drug rehab was the only solution I could triage from my limited understanding. Of course, I regret ever taking my son to this disgusting facility but hindsight is 20/20. (And yes, it's imperative we find alternatives to these dastardly facilities so where the hell are they??????????)

    And truth be known, where does a person in this state seek appropriate, compassionate help? It's lovely we hear talk about resurrecting the Soteria Houses again but right now when someone is in this state, how do they get the right humane help? I'm not leaving this arena which I sadly stumbled into in Oct '09 when my then 23 y/o out of nowhere, after getting married, went into this state of psychosis. I have yet to hear in CA where I should have taken my kid where the outcome could have been different? I would love to know!!!!!!!!!! And I am not a strong believer in meds, especially psych meds, but my son weaned himself off the psychotropic meds after his brain re-emerged to normal (10 wks after hospitalization) and actually went to AA and got support to stop any recreational drug use, but he took his life 6 months after his locked psych discharge. What's wrong with this outcome? EVERYTHING!!!!!

    I'm also asking everyone to please put civility first when an MIA author writes a piece, especially an Op-Ed piece. I'm in Jonathan's court. I have seen psychosis in my face and nothing has terrified me in 55 years of life. And yet's not forget the tragic outcome of the recent news report about the VA State Senator, Creigh Deeds, and his 24 y/o "precious son" (Deeds' words) who according to report had been treated for "bipolar" but was experiencing some episode enough to warrant the son be admitted but a psych bed was not available. That poor father took home his son in a state I have seen with my son, twice, but whatever happened his son destabilized further and the next morning attempted to harm, perhaps even kill his father, who narrowly escaped critically wounded. And then every parents' nightmare, to learn his beautiful talented, gifted son got a rifle and took his own life.

    This is happening in every town across America. I still blame rampant drug "recreational" use but that is just my opinion. Whatever the reasons, we need help for our adult children and their families. Jonathan wrote an excellent, factual piece about what goes on in the psych centers of America. Instead of criticize him, we should thank him for bringing this subject to the forefront.

  • Ted,
    Wouldn’t it be nice if the very hospitals,rehab centers that young people enter cared enough to expose why mind-altering drugs (e.g. PCP, cannabis, ‘shrooms) which alter the young brains( most susceptible < age 25) and cause psychotic sxs: thus labeling with such diagnoses somewhere on the schizophrenia spectrum which thanks to Big Pharma now includes " bipolar one" . Yet, none of these dx ( except for insurance coding purposes) legitimately, per " the DSM bible" IF a chemical substance is found in the tox report" applies. Of course, but " the Busi of Psychiatry" has morphed to snag multiple victims. N.I. appears to be one of the more fortunate victims, lucky IMO to have survived the several hosp ordeals, then the supposed error in the schizoaffective dx.
    Having watched how my son's mind, age 23, when he had his FEP, again like N.I. ( under the influence of cannabis) suffer such a horrifying experience, but made a catastrophic one because his family asked him to enter a psych hosp ( wrongly assuming he would be counseled, supported, and helped to digest what factors threw his brain into psychosis). Nope! The mentality in ? all psych hosp is label 'em, drug 'em, warehouse 'me, dump 'em- all true, saw it happen twice to my son, again testing + for cannabis. Isn't it time that society begins to accept cannabis IS a mind-altering drug and start an interactive website educational campaign like the Canadians began in 2011: the cannabis-psychosis link. Would N.I. and my son had not had more psychotic "episodes" had they been educ their brains were susceptible? Could N.I. have avoided long term psych drugs as he now so valiantly continues to taper down?
    I applaud Dr.Steingard for her Herculean efforts to I) first, recognize the research Bob Whitaker and others started which is making p-docs ( the ones who have a conscience) accountable for the mess MH is in 2) to take on studies like this one to truly help ppl find ways to reduce their neuroleptics. My wish: society would accept how mind-altering drugs can and do alter brain changes which cause catastrophic results. Especially, when a person gets admitted to a locked unit, truly help educate the person, involve the family/friends since anyone in psychosis is already dealing with too much trauma, find out what kind of emotional &/or physical trauma precipitated the break- likely the cause of using mind-altering drugs pushed them over the edge… In my son's case, despite me waving the clinical research studies " the experts" denied pot could cause psychosis, both '09 and '11 hospitalizations. "Your son is JUST a recreational user" instead of sending him to a rehab center after "the system " dumped" him once the insurance refused further stay. We naively believed " the experts" despite I had the answers all along, talk about the sadness I live with now.

    N.I- you were stronger, much stronger than my 25 y/o son, who came back to " normal" 10 wks after his mind went into psychosis each of his two " episodes" ( NO family hx of ANY severe MI so all the studies linking genetics think again), but the stigma and the horrific side effects of mood stabilizers, neuroleptics ( though he successfully weaned off of all legal meds) and was " clean" for 7 months my son didn't have any fight left as his spirit broke along the way. For a young man who had never shown ANY signs of depression, one of the most social souls on earth, loved by everyone who met him…..how does someone who should have had the world as his oyster take his life at age 25? Sadly, his medical records which I have now scoured, along with a very CARING and competent p- doc who reviewed my son's chart and suggest " criminal charges should be brought" too late for my son. He's dead. My son, and his family, desperate to seek proper treatment, and support, but that never happened. At least this kind of study Dr. Steingard discusses are a beginning. And especially moving MH into programs that educate, offer alternative ( non-drug or minimum drugs) approaches. My oldest is gone, but surely he didn't/ shouldn't have died….. Yes, Ted, we both know there are HUMANE ways to help ppl who out of nowhere suffer serious mental challenges in life. Too bad it came too late for my family.

  • Please read paragraph 7 of this article. ” Cannabis in large amounts can cause similar effects”. That line links to this study proving THC can and did cause psychotic symptoms in the healthy male subjects who were given an IV dose of THC. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19335936

    The same month and year this clinical study showing the correlation between subjects given an IV dose of THC and + symptoms of psychosis, my then 23 y/o son, perfectly ” normal” and always such a healthy guy who could light up any room with his personality, had NEVER showed signs of clinical depression but who had experienced a ” sea of stressors” led my son to use much more cannabis over a short time period of extreme stress. My son literally almost overnight becomes psychotic, unable to know how to help my son, his father and I drive helplessly around in our car late in the night after finding our son at the first hospital the police took him to when his wife of two months called 911 because he was acting bizarre. The first hospital deemed our son ” not a danger to self or others” and was putting him in a taxi when we showed up. Our son was happy to come with us, but sounding more like an alien, we drove around in circles. Our son was exhibiting rapid speech, delusional thinking with grandiose ideas. The only sensible statement he admitted to us was ” I know you don’t know I use marijuana but I do. It’s harmless and lots of people use it too. It’s natural.” I realized my always healthy, well loved and admired son who had lots of successes in his young life was suddenly a person I didn’t understand but I knew his confession of using cannabis was somehow directly related to why he sounded ” crazy”. As parents, we have always taken our kids to the best doctors. Heck, when my son tore his ACL, I insisted he get a 2nd opinion, and got him an appt with the same surgeon Kobe Bryant had repair him recently. So, asking our son to voluntarily enter a psych hospital who escorted him to a locked unit was the place we absolutely trusted would help our son back to his usual state of mental wellness. Just no one cared to explore what led to the psychosis, not the admitting p-doc, not the staff. When I questioned THE STUDIES ABOUT THE CANNABIS-PSYCHOSIS LINK, I was laughed at by the ” experts”. Instead, my son was assessed to be ” only a recreational user” no problem, no association with his “psychotic break”. Shane was dx with “psychosis NOS, rule out biplolar” even though no ” expert” bothered to research there is NO history of ANY severe MI in our family lines. None! The out-pt p-doc was the worst and brainwashed my son ” bipolar fir life, meds for life” and kept enforcing ” everyone has at least two” ( breaks). My son dutifully took the mood stabilizer and antipsychotic, gaining 55 lbs in 4 months, insisting the meds made his brain ” foggy”. He emerged back to ” normal” 10 wks later and I believed he was cured. My son eventually got off the toxic meds, lost the wt he gained from those meds, found a job in his field after rehabbing his damaged knee, but his marriage was crumbling and he returned to cannabis, despite my warnings I believed this drug was the root cause. But ” the experts” believed otherwise, and his friends and wife enjoyed their recreational use of MJ, so my son started to use again. 18 months from his first breakdown, the second break happened. Again, still believing in ” the system of mental health care” my family finally persuaded Shane to enter for the drug rehab the hospital promised but greedy hospitals, money hungry p-docs who are willing to ignore the + THC toxicology report and massively drug a young man who entered with mild psychosis, there to receive drug rehab only, tricked into their locked unit, held against his will- deny him a court hearing and kept him chemically drugged into a stuporous state for 13 days. Once his PPO ins, beside the $15,000 his parents forked out so he would receive the drug rehab he was denied, my son was then ” dumped” from the locked unit to our home, as his wife abandoned and betrayed him during the hospitalization.

    Why didn’t ONE of these hospitals admit what this study found: cannabis in large amounts can cause psychotic symptoms?????????????? If I found many, many other studies with the same findings cannabis can alter certain, susceptible brains, the ” experts” should not have misdiagnoses Shane as ” bipolar” the du jour dx of this century. My son did not have a manic-depressive personality and had this been the 1980s Shane would have been labelled with some schizophrenia tie, though the cause- from drug use- would have made sense. It was assigning ” bipolar” the more vogue dx with the new generations of meds specific for bipolar just roped my son’s neck. As his life completely fell apart in every possible way, from the brainwashing this bipolar dx was forever, he could not go on and 7 months upon release from this locked unit,chose to end the turmoil he felt being branded with a lifelong, debilitating mental illness.

    As. I read this article, followed the links, seeing the results that THC can cause the brain to spin out. Too bad I can’t find my son and let him know he wasn’t ” crazy” after all as long as he never touched cannabis again. I’d like to know if the psych hospital who deceived my son’s family each day, did egregious treatments to my son, violated his human rights, IF the ” revenue ” he provided ” the system” was really worth his life?

  • Yes, Rossa, the Canadians are FAR ahead of the States regarding compassionate education and support where my family resides. ” IF ONLY” I had known about the resources at the time my son’s onset of psychosis developed almost overnight, since our family lines have NO h/o severe MI none of us were prepared how to help my son. Absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, now I have reviewed my son’s medical file while he was inside the locked psych unit for 13 days in 2011, the egregious violations he was subjected to categorically leveled him. My sons’s demise 7 months later IMO was directly related to the forced chemical horrors and stigmatized brainwashing he was only given there. But I’ve discovered the Canadians are also far ahead of the States as to the ROOT cause of psychosis in some of the young population who use cannabis, as my son admitted to us, and tested positive on his toxicology report. The genetic link to why only some develop psychosis is explored further in the Canadians’s interactive website: https://www.google.com/search?q=cannabisandpsychosis.ca&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&client=safari. Sadly, though I questioned EVERY so-called ” expert” in the psych hospitals, the out-pt p-docs, the psychologists we took our son to trying desperately to find help for him, not a soul in So Calif in this field of Psych was aware what our Northern neighbors already knew and were educating the masses in Canada about the psychosis- cannabis link!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • It’s healing to learn about the advances in the Pennsylvania state hospital system by using a trauma informed, hope-based, “people first” approach instead of what is protocol for most other institutions regarding restraint and seclusion. My logic is if one state has seen the light, then perhaps others will follow?

    When I heard about the tragic death by suicide of Josh Marks, the Celebrity Chef runner-up, I learned how quickly his world had crumbled. For whatever factors caused things to spiral down for this young man, he sought help and treatment. Yet, instead of being positively guided thru a life crisis, he was assigned the ” bipolar” label, but not offered that self-filling prophesy that any 25 y/o young man who had already accomplished so much could and would get healthy again ( whether he needed short term meds and talk therapy to identify and work thru his stressors). How easy this kind of positive help and support should be for EVERY person who enters the mental “health” system in America? No, instead this sensitive person who hadn’t fully been able to digest the stigma of a ” bipolar” disorder- what young person CAN accept such toxic language when they want to be at the pinnacle of life- is then fully leveled with a second severe mental illness dx of schizophrenia. Does any one of us not cringe in horror reading this bright light took his life within 24 hrs of the added mental illness label?

    Twenty-one months ago a very similar sea of life crises took down my 25 y/o son – an eerily similar rapid descent after the p-docs and psych hospital rushed to judge, label, stigmatize with that traumatizing ” bipolar” label. Instead of caring enough to explore the trauma my son was dealing with the ” system” didn’t even do a psych- soc eval. His stressors which were huge apparently were irrelevant because it was only about greed, revenue his presence generated for the ” for profit” hospital. The more he was massively drugged, the longer stay was justified. Each day, my son lost more of his self- esteem, his confidence in the many successes he had achieved. Who wouldn’t feel egregiously violated after being forced into a senselessly drugged stuporous state all the time reminded ” mental illness and meds for life”? When hope was stripped from my son, as is was from Josh Marks, it no longer shocks me at the chose they took.

    The alternative programs Sarah Knutson mentions that center around treating each person who experiences some form of mental health distress as a human being, nothing less, must be embraced in every state across this nation. I don’t want to live in this country if all of us together can’t make a difference. It’s up to us to demand and not rest until these programs are mainstream!

  • Maria,
    One day, our paths will cross from my home in CA to yours in NZ. You have read the story I share in MIA about my beloved 25 y/o beautiful son, Shane, who like Toran, left this earth too prematurely and for reasons we simply will never fully know. But the mental health system in both our countries is a tainted, pathetic, and often corrupt industry. Like you, I believe had my family and I not taken Shane to a psych hospital or p-doc believing he would receive compassionate care and support as he was experiencing a NERVOUS breakdown ( the most accurate description of what Shane experienced) due to a ” sea of stressors” and his reaction to using cannabis. Instead of understanding the human psyche, evaluating the emotional trauma and helping educate my son how chemical substances can alter the mind- just rush to dx with a severe MI, massively over drug with ” criminal” doses of multiple neuroleptics, warehouse and abuse. (Sadly, the knowledge base regarding today’s genetically altered marijuana seed with its ever increasing high octane THC which is causing the psychosis link in some young brains is lacking in society, including and especially the so- called “experts”). But link to ” cannabisandpsychosis.ca” a Canadian interactive website and the word is finally being told!

    No matter now, our beautiful sons are gone. We Moms carry and bore these children. I felt my son die that fateful day in Jan, 2012. Of course, we will forever miss their presence, the world should have been their oyster! We Moms will continue to keep their memories alive, and try to make this crazy world a better place in spite of the hole in our souls. Thank you for your grace, and the boundless love you have for Toran. I’d like to hope our boys with their zest for life and love for others are together somewhere rooting on their moms who championed for them while alive, so surely despite their earthly bodies are gone, we will champion the causes that took them from us!
    Big Hugs,

  • Yes, Ted, reviving the Network Against Psychiatric Abuse makes incredible sense. I so feel a part of this movement to being recognition to the egregious violations people, like my then 24 y/o son suffered in a CA ” for profit” locked facility in 2011. To have finally read thru my son’s medical chart, only after the attorneys for this psych hospital chain refused to release the records until after my son’s statue of limitations passed, it’s outrageous that society is not aware such injustices done to my son still exist today. No human being should be kept locked up against his/ her will though the chart says my son” volunteered” but daily subjective comments written by the staff support my son begging to be released, all the while lying to myself and his father, night after night he would be be be moved back the open unit for drug rehab, the ONLY reason we begged our son to enter. The massive amounts of drugs, especially multiple neuroleptics, put my son in this horrific drug stupor which correlates with the two voice messages he left on our landline. I wish I could play them for the world- no denying the psychiatric trauma and abuse he was subjected to. Never did I believe in America, such inhumane treatment for such a young person who was so accomplished, so loved and admired, with such a gregarious personality but whose substance use, cannabis, spun his brain into psychosis could not be compassionately helped but instead warehoused and drugged until he didn’t recognize his parents at the night visitations. His mind turns suicidal and then homicidal the longer he is kept warehoused, and massively drugged but not a word of warning to us, night after night despite his HIPAA waiver was signed upon admission. Only now I have the records, do I understand the abuses and believe this hospital has hlood on its hands. Of course there should be a network to unite our outrage! We will raise our fists, resurrect sit-ins and tell our stories.