Psychotropic prescription drugs (such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and anxiolytic medications) are often very difficult to stop taking. Users who have come to the end of treatment and wish to stop can suffer withdrawal symptoms, even when following their doctor’s advice. In some cases, these withdrawal symptoms can be so severe that they prevent the user from stopping their medication.
Recent studies show that over 50% of those taking an antidepressant drug will experience difficulties stopping or reducing.
We need to do something about this and soon, please sign the petition.
Because stopping or reducing is so difficult, many users feel trapped into taking these tablets for many years, exposing them to adverse effects and costing the NHS money in unnecessary prescriptions.
Many of these drugs result in dependence and the best way to avoid any unpleasant symptoms is to reduce the dosage slowly over an extended period. Unfortunately, because of having to rely on standard registered dosages available in pill or capsule form, reducing gradually is next to impossible for most people taking the drugs.
As it is now, many people who want to stop have no option but to reduce to the lowest possible dosage then “jump off” which can be extremely challenging. Some users simply carry on taking a drug beyond the point at which it was effective and useful to avoid the challenge of stopping.
We want access to additional methods to help people come off the drugs slowly and safely. Liquid forms are available, but they are often prohibitively expensive. At the very least, pharmaceutical manufacturers should be compelled to produce a far wider range of available dosages than they currently do.
Firstly, please sign the petition:
BBC Radio 5 Live Interview
One day I started to wonder, the pharmaceutical companies manufacture most of these drugs in a wide variety of doses, how difficult would it be to be to create “tapering kits” to help people taper off at the end of treatment?
What is a ‘tapering kit’?
A tapering kit would consist of a supply of tablets in ever-reducing dosages which would be dispensed by your GP or Pharmacist. By using the kit, a user would gradually reduce the dosage of their medication in a safe, well managed and controlled way.
Not only would this help the user, it would reduce the burden on the NHS and save significant time for GPs, Psychiatrists and Community Mental Health Teams. There would also be cost-savings in reducing the number of unnecessary prescriptions.
I feel strongly that pharmaceutical companies have a responsibility to support those users who wish to stop taking their products. These companies are already set up to manufacture huge quantities of these drugs, so it is unlikely to be a large additional cost to manufacture tablets of decreasing dosages. At most this is likely to be a tiny fraction of a percentage of profit – but would win a huge amount of public confidence that the Pharmaceutical firms have their customers safety at heart.
Dr. Peter Groot and colleagues from the User Research Centre of Maastricht university have already created Tapering Strips, exactly the solution that this petition is calling for. The following website is in Dutch but an English translation is on the way: Tapering Strips
You can hear more about Tapering Strips in my interview with Dr. Groot for the podcast.
Visit the Tapering Strips website, an elegant and simple solution to a widespread problem
I decided to create an online petition at change.org to try and gauge how much this problem affects other users and to gain support for the idea. So far there has been a great deal of positive feedback and I feel that, with more support, we can start a dialogue which could result in real change for users of psychiatric medications.
My sincere hope is that we can reach a point where users of these drugs who have come to the end of treatment and wish to stop, can do so in a controlled, safe and well managed way, with the support of their local health service and the relevant drug manufacturer.
I must stress that changing dosage or stopping any psychoactive medication should only be done with the guidance and support of your doctor or psychiatrist.
Please sign my petition, together we can push for the changes that so many users need. Click HERE