Nothing in the field of mental health will do more good and reduce more harm than encouraging withdrawal from psychiatric drugs.  The time is past when the focus in mental health is on what drugs to take for what disorders.  Now we need to focus on how to stop taking psychiatric drugs and to replace them with more person-centered, empathic approaches.  The goal is no longer drug maintenance and stagnation, but recovery and well-being.

My new book, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and Families, responds to a citizen rebellion that demands, “Help us get off these drugs!”  It also encourages a professional revolution among concerned therapists who want to reject the enforcement of “patient compliance.”

Therapists are often the first to realize that their patients are overly or unnecessarily medicated but they have been discouraged from voicing their opinions or discussing them with their clients or patients.  They have also been discouraged from participating in medication decision-making and have been urged or mandated to enforce medication compliance.  Some therapists have told me they are afraid of being sued if they offer opinions or participate in psychiatric-drug decision making.  However, in my extensive forensic experience, this almost never happens, and I know of no such successful suit against a therapist.

It’s time for therapists—psychologists, nurses, social workers, family therapists, and counselors—to stop pushing their clients and patients to take psychiatric drugs that cause brain damage, harm the body, and shorten their patients’ lives. Instead, therapists should actively participate with patients and families in the medication decision-making process.  By explaining and illustrating a Person-Centered Collaborative Partnership that focuses on the patient’s feelings and needs throughout the withdrawal process, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal provides a new roadmap for prescribers, therapists, patients, and their families during drug withdrawal.  This new emphasis on patient partnership and well-being will greatly increase awareness of adverse psychiatric drug effects and facilitate the patient’s withdrawal before the harm becomes irreparable.  It will also improve the prescriber’s overall satisfaction and effectiveness as a service provider.

The model for a patient-centered collaborative team approach not only transforms drug withdrawal, but mental health treatment in general.  It ushers in a new era of patient and family-centered treatment, and offers a whole new level of drug-free recovery and enhanced well-being where the goal is no longer a drug-induced holding pattern, but genuine physical and psychological recovery and growth.

Tell us what you think--do you believe psychiatric medication is ultimately helpful or harmful?  Add a comment below!