London 18 Sep: “More Harm than Good: Confronting the Psychiatric Medication Epidemic”

The Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry invites you to join global leaders in the critical psychiatry movement for a one-day conference which will address an urgent public health issue: the iatrogenic harm caused by the over-prescription of psychiatric medications.

There is clear evidence that these drugs cause more harm than good over the long term, and can damage patients and even shorten their lives. Yet why are these medications so popular? What harms are they causing? What can be done to address the problem?

This event brings together key experts from both sides of the Atlantic to debate these issues, and we invite you to join the discussion.

Speakers and panellists include: Dr Peter Breggin, Robert Whitaker, Prof Peter Gøtzsche, Dr Joanna Moncrieff, Prof Peter Kinderman, Prof John Abraham and Dr James Davies.

For the programme and detailed information please go to

Cost: £85 for delegates, £28 for students, psychiatric trainees, patients / service users and their families (includes lunch)

Location: Whitelands College, University of Roehampton, London SW15 5PU

£70 early bird rate for delegates until 31 July!


25 Responses to London 18 Sep: “More Harm than Good: Confronting the Psychiatric Medication Epidemic”

  1. Barry Haslam 11/06/2015 at 1:46 pm #

    This Conference is vitally needed because the issue of iatrogenic addiction has been kicked in the long grass for decades by UK government.

    The Secretary of State for Health and the Minister for Public Health should be invited to explain their position and why there are only a handful of dedicated withdrawal services and after care for state condoned legal drug addiction.

    Barry Haslam.
    Former benzodiazepine iatrogenic addict of 10 years.

    • M, Salima Hitchcock 19/07/2015 at 2:39 am #

      Barry….You have worked for years and years….so very committed, dedicated…I admire you so very much! i discovered The Ashton Manual….the site June 6, 2011 when I was going through a very severe, “cold turkey”, rapid detox off of Lorazepam.(on it only two years but so very sick.) I stopped abruptly (never warned) because, even though I’d taken my one tab in eve., I was staying awake ALL night. I thought “something is wrong,” but,with no knowledge at that point I didn’t know what it could be…I was actually in high tolerance, very toxic, and addicted. I was abandoned by my primary care physician. I called for help three times, left messages with the office. Virtually ignored. I had received absolutely no “Informed Consent”..NEVER told this “mild sedative” she was prescribing was highly addictive, many poss, side effects,and that the drug was a “Benzodiazepine tranquilizer.” ) I was never monitored, I’d just call in for a refill. Prior to the prescription, I was NOT experiencing serious anxiety or insomnia…just stressed and not falling asleep right away. I was so naive about psych drugs, never having been on them. So…Informed consent (information and an actually discussion about the drug) is a legal requirement here in the U.S. i learned more about in detail when I began the research I’ve been doing since 2011. first on benzodiazepines (the site is loaded with information, papers, videos…including the media archives… I’ve read all of this(e.g. the squabbles in Parliament, etc, and I’ve watched/listened to you on video etc.etc.) I’m very aware of the fight that’s been going on in the UK…and still, 2015…as you say…”only a handful of dedicated withdrawal services and aftercare” And you say it all: “state condoned legal drug addiction.” And your PM is still doing NOTHING.
      Here in the U.S., drugs can be advertised legally in all media…T.V. magazines, online, etc. Allen Frances,U.S. Psychiatrist (in one of his many warning and public education blogs in the Huffington Post about the dangers of the DSM5; diagnosing normal children’s behavior as pathological; “the fuzzy boundaries between normal/abnormal behavior for any human age (etc.Great blogs)….remarked the situation is worse than the illicit drug cartels. I thought the other day: Big Pharma is virtually a legal drug cartel…out of control. This is evident with the DSM5. The APA (American Psychiatric Assoc) who decide ( arbitrarily, by consensus) the “unscientifically sound diagnoses in the DSM”.., in collusion with, and supported financially by Pharma. I still need to read Peter Gotzsche’s new book “Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime,,,” Of course I’ve learned much from Peter Breggin,M.D., about pharma crime, the drugs etc. especially his opus.”Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry”…and his websites…one being Peter Pharma bribery money flows constantly….rampant corruption. I recently (finally) read Robert Whitaker’s book “Anatomy of An Epidemic.” Stunning!!! Virtually an indictment against the pharmaceutical industry…and everyone they pay off. Yes Peter Gotzsche…like the mafia. And….set up by Whitaker so all people involved in reform can communicate, unify…and reach the public…as they did me.
      I do hope your well. I have severe 24/7 tinnitus, developing as I withdrew from Ativan…protracted…sounds like cicadas…and the ringing pulsates often. I cope during the day… but I haven’t found anything to “mask” it at night…so, if I wake up, which is at least once, the “ringing” can keep me awake..I do not get anxious…just relax with it…and hope to drift off to sleep. Sometimes I do…other times I get about 3 to 4 hours sleep only. So, a severe sleep deprivation problem…it’s beginning to affect my health…slightly abnormal glucose and parathyroid readings lately. I don’t drive when i’m too tired. I’m very slim, health conscious (eat organically), cycle, walk…. I mention this because Benzodiazepines are obviously so very damaging…even with just two years on them. It appears the tinnitus may be irreversible. Dr. Ashton mentioned in 2012 during a visit to New York that its “an extremely common occurrence with Benzo W/drawals. I went on website Science…to research sleep deprivation.
      The physiological repercussions as studied at The University of Warwick; Northwestern Univ.(U.S.), Univ of Chicago (U.S.) and CIBERNED (Spain) & Univ of Barcelona: Eventually, Cardiovascular problems, “including cardiac arrest and potential strokes, hypertension, high blood pressure; abnormal hormonal secretions (e.g.endocrine); processing & storing carbohydrates (abnormal, pre-diabetic glucose…”the ability to secrete insulin and to respond to insulin can begin to decrease; and a dampening of the thyroid stimulating hormone.”); memory impairment
      Dr. Ashton: “Benzodiazepines are dangerous…people have to stop taking them…the longer you are on them, the sicker you become…” U.S addiction specialist, New York: Benzodiazepines are the second most dangerous class of drugs on the market: the first are Antipsychotics.
      I could write about these as well…. Do you have tinnitus from your experience? If so, how are you dealing with it. My best thoughts for you, Salima

      • Barry Haslam 19/07/2015 at 3:40 pm #

        Hi Salima,

        Thank you for your kind words and thoughtful observations. I am now in my 30th year of campaigning on this massive world wide prescribed drug epidemic. Our Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron has deliberately run away from this issue with his tail between his legs, terrified of confronting the massive vested interests involved in the legal drugging up of it’s citizens. Corporate power has dictated his impotence.

        I have been left with a benzo drug legacy of brain damage, neuropathic pain, thyroid damage, B12 deficiency, daily chronic migraines and COPD but nothing will stop me campaigning ( only my last breath) on this web of corruption and cover up.

        Citizens world wide have to make their voices heard and fight back against this tide of evil.



        • Millie Kieve 19/07/2015 at 10:24 pm #

          An opportunity for me to publicly thank you Barry for all you have done to help publicise the involuntary tranquiliser addiction problem. To have established a withdrawal facility in the North of England too is a triumph of hard graft and commitment, beyond what most people could have done.

          We, who are in the public arena of creating awareness of psychiatric adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and dependence/withdrawal problems – which can lead to long term iatrogenic illness, are grateful to Luke Montagu for helping establish CEP and for tackling the psychiatrist in court.

          Basic problems start with lack of education in the field of pharmacology for those who are allowed to prescribe pharmaceutical drugs. Medical students in many colleges do not have to prove competence to prescribe or ability to recognise ADRs, in order to qualify as a doctor.

          APRIL charity had three conferences with Internationally renowned experts including Professors Heather Ashton and David Healy – yet we made little impact on Medical Education. At a meeting I had at the BMA a doctor complained to me that the Ashton Manual was too much for him to read.
          He was typical of many doctors who have no understanding and wont spend the time to study how to help people withdraw or reduce safely, SSRIs, Benzos, Pain Killers or corticosteroids. It is easier for them to carry on prescribing.

          An appeal to all who read this is please send in a report using the Yellow Card system in UK or whichever system in your country, however long ago an ADR occurred. If we flood the MHRA with reports of iatrogenic illness and withdawal adverse effects they may eventually have to take action. report to also to http://www.rxisk,org an independent data base backed by Dr David Healy and others.

          • Barry Haslam 20/07/2015 at 9:37 pm #

            Thank you for your kind words Millie and all the sheer hard work that YOU are doing on the issue of ADRs and continue to do so.

            A true warrior.

            God Bless,


  2. kiwi 11/06/2015 at 6:12 pm #

    About time.

    ssri 10 yr addict life ruined by these chemicals
    unemployed and umemployable.

  3. Anthony Connelly 11/06/2015 at 8:55 pm #

    I would be interested in hearing any proposed solutions and how we, as the populace, might support positive changes.

  4. susan bevus 14/06/2015 at 8:46 am #

    I have a 28 yr old daughter whose diagnosis is in question as there are so many in the files. I have already proven long term drugging is affecting her physical health yet doctors in my local area ignore this fact and refuse a reduction in the drug clozapine. There is the expertise out there who know fully how the drugs work but there is no facility where someone can be helped to reduce/ come off them so physical health is being ignored by doctors who know full well the drugs are doing more harm than good and I have found in my local area that care is dominated by non medical professionals who only care about pushing drugs and ensuring patients are kept on them for a lifetime. If you disagree you get treated like dirt and I have obtained all the files and we have subjected to what I can only describe as bullying with 1 aim to force return my daughter to care where one serious incident after another has happened and this has caused decline. The legal profession meant to protect vulnerable people has failed and what do we have a report by an independent psychiatrist naming another council and their refusal to alter this important error. Not even her fares refunded for the ct of protection case and if you disagree with the cruel treatment of forcing someone to take drugs for the rest of their lives you too can become labelled not that I care because I simply am astonished that this is allowed to go on and I know of many cases where families could be better supported where their sons and daughters are locked up and drugged to the hilt in shocking institutions – shame on the Government who must be fully aware of what is going on yet do nothing and the cases I know are not featured in the papers and should be. These are not cases where someone with a mh condition has killed someone or done anything seriously wrong yet they are locked aware in secure institutions as a matter of “convenience”. I believe this is done for control purposes and enormous quantities of drugs are given to the point a patient can no longer deal with solicitors for instance and give up on life. Leave is deprived and contact with family discouraged. Who is going to find out well there may be just one mother or relative who cares and visits and are very distressed and I know only too well how they feel as the law is failing to help those whose are made so weak they cannot stand up for themselves and tge relative that cares is left helpless thanks to a cruel wicked and evil system here in the UK where long term drugging is seen as prime treatment and some patients are just off like rubbish.

  5. susan bevus 14/06/2015 at 8:50 am #

    Correction – some patients are written off like rubbish

    • J Hill 19/06/2015 at 4:04 am #

      I know that I cannot fully feel what you and your daughter are experiencing, but what I do feel is overwhelming horror. In the USA, where I live, the attitude is the same while the political enforcement is not yet so inescapable.

      Psychiatric diagnoses resemble Greek Mythology. A myth complete with a “god-of” is supplied. I am sure that you can name many of these mythological illnesses that have no basis other than the doctors’ imaginations. No test is used other than that of “I know mental illness when I see it”.

      If a chemically imprisoned person can relocate and disappear and study the empirical science, he may structure his own recovery. When a government tracks these marked people, there is no way to freedom.

      Not too long ago, there was an underground railroad for the people accused and ordered “depot injections” of the infamous atypical antipsychotics. Kind people sheltered those accused of mental illness, Why was something so extreme necessary?

      The UK’s more centralized medical health system allowed the disgrace, but the USA is not far behind. With mandatory disclosure of intimate details of our lives via Obamacare, everyone is at risk of being accused and tracked.

      We can’t wait for the centralized abuse to stop. We must take charge of our health and wellbeing and come to the aid of one another. We must share the verified science and ignore the generic programs of cutting 10% of the drugs and waiting to be well enough to do it again, We must not accept more drugs to come off earlier drugs.

      Governments will not provide remedies to conditions that governments, themselves, cause.

  6. Rosalind Jones 22/06/2015 at 1:32 pm #

    This is a worldwide scandal. I have people contacting me through my website that are desperately suffering from benzodiazepine use and withdrawal and need help. Little exists in either the UK or US. I sincerely hope that this conference can raise awareness and get through to David Cameron. My own letter to him was merely referred to another department! I was prescribed these dangerous drugs for 40 years with no review. I’m suffering a traumatiic withdrawal with only internet support. It should not be allowed to happen when the dangers have been known for thirty plus years.

    • Barry Haslam 30/06/2015 at 12:05 pm #

      I agree with you entirely Rosalind.

      There has never been the political will by the UK government to tackle this massive public health scandal and to confront vested interests who have got us in this mess.

      At PMQs in the House of Commons on October 23rd 2013 PM David Cameron replied to a question by the late Jim Dobbin MP on the issue of prescribed tranquilliser addiction and said ” He is right to say that this is a terrible affliction; these people ( 1.5 million long term prescribed addicts of benzodiazepines and z drugs ) are not drug addicts but they have become hooked on repeat prescriptions of tranquillisers.”

      To quote Thatcher, the PM is ‘frit’ of tackling the worst public health scandal
      this country has ever seen. Government want the lid on this Pandora’s box to be kept firmly closed at any cost.

      Barry Haslam.

      • M, Salima Hitchcock 19/07/2015 at 5:37 am #

        I once read that the U.K economy is tied in with the pharmaceutical companies. Could you reply about this. Does this make sense?

        Was it Malcolm Lader, M.D., UK British Psychiatrist, who once said “Benzodiazepines are the opiate of the masses” ? In 1979, Senator Kennedy held senate sub-committee health hearings on the valium crisis.(i once saw a small part of the hearings on YouTube ) He was very concerned…”The US population is sedated, addicted to these drugs.”And a Pharma Exec sitting there blamed the patients…”They are prone to addiction”and one of their repetitive buzz words: “They’re absolutely safe if taken as directed.” But, there were no safe directions or boundaries at that time. And this remains so
        In the Uk or U.S…. anywhere! What about the 2 to 4 week limit, 56 tabs maximum presented in parliament (1988, 1994, 2004)? Is this long-forgotten in Britain? Of course, still no legislation, actual law concerning this. This limit is in the 2013 BNF (British National Formulary)…Ashton Manual. Well, such a limit would greatly affect pharma profits. And doctors incomes in the U.S. as well.

        • M, Salima Hitchcock 19/07/2015 at 5:41 am #

          Not the Ashton Manual.. but on the website

  7. Hugh Massengill 25/06/2015 at 2:17 pm #

    Oh, please tell me that the Sept 18 conference will be recorded and put on YouTube. I cannot attend, but as someone who identifies as a psychiatric survivor, I would love to watch this entire day.

  8. Pauline Thomas 28/06/2015 at 9:21 pm #

    Big Pharma. Big profits. Too many governments have been sucking up to these big giants for too long. In truth there is hardly any moral difference between the big Pharma companies and the small time drug dealers who operate in our inner cities. Both want to keep their customers hooked. Both want to make their business’s grow.

    I wonder how many GP’s and psychiatrists actually fill in the yellow form that informs the pharmaceutical companies that their patients are having adverse reactions to their particular drug. Not many I suspect.

    • M, Salima Hitchcock 19/07/2015 at 4:43 am #

      In the U.S., it is legal to advertise, market drugs, in All Media..T.V, internet, magazines, medicalJournals,..all news outlets (New Zealand is the only other country in the world that can do this as well). Advertising increases sales. U.S. Pharma profits, last count I read…2012…$311billion dollars for all drugs; $84Billion (last amount I saw a few yrs. ago) for psychiatric drugs. Executives pull in salaries of $26million a year…probably have bonuses, stocks. Keeping market share/profits up and rising is the absolute priority, patients be damned. so they’re always looking for a new market. Right now, the adult ADHD market is a big focus in the U.S. And Children!!! Allen francis, Psychiatrist has written many blogs on the situation in the Huffington post….the dangers of the new DSM5…”Don’t use it, don’t sell it, don’t buy it”…he’s the former chair of the DSM4.
      Most everyone on the panel of the Sept 18 conference in London have written and are writing blogs ( and books. For a long time it was just Peter Breggin, M.D…many books ( And his solution: “Empathic
      Psychotherapy”…he explains it in his books..He won’t prescribe psych drugs. .has a large weekend conference every year in the U.S. (see Facebook/Peter Breggin) and Fbook/Ginger Breggin.
      One of the most important books out (pub. 2010)…”Anatomy of an Epidemic”…by Robert Whitaker…a huge, thoroughly research expose of the deception, lies, hidden, ignored. biased research and clinical trial data re: the profound destructiveness,esp. long-term use of psych drugs. They heal nothing! As he says and reveals, the stimulants, antidepressants virtually “manufacture psychological and physiological imbalance and more severe illness. They’ve begun electroshock again on children…what does this do to their fragile brains?
      Breggin has a long chapter in “Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry” on the horrible damage from ECT…and a website on it. Wayne Ray, Psychiatrist, researcher…Univ of Tennessee, has just published a paper on Stimulants causing cardiac arrest in children.
      Pharma and the APA already know ALL of the dangers of these drugs and what children, adolescents, adults are experiencing. But, Obscene profits, power, politics, social control and brutal drug cocktails take precedence over loving kindness, compassion, gentle care & humanizing, skilled, consistent empathic psychotherapy. Watch “Healing Homes” on YouTube….about the therapists in Gothenberg, Sweden…”The Family Service Foundation” And “Open Dialogue” in Finland… These are models of possibility….
      As Breggin has said: ‘Reform is also a grass-roots movement”…. the public must research, read, watch the available videos, speak to people we meet, tell our doctors what we can….bring a small list of the books. I’m big on Whitaker’s “Anatomy of an Epidemic right now, and Breggin, and There is quite a epidemic of benzo and antidepressant prescribing in my county in California …..people, paramedics are talking to me…I’ve asked them..e.g.”Do you get many emergency calls for benzos….Yes, too many…doctors are handing them out like candy, especially Xanax and Ativan) An ER nurse I know:”It’s happening everywhere in the US..” Yes, I’ve read…opiates also. The reformers who will be at the London Conference are becoming more powerful in getting the information out. I’m sure they’ll put it on YouTube!

  9. John Robinson 13/07/2015 at 6:45 am #

    See you there!

  10. Doug Humphries 19/07/2015 at 2:01 pm #

    Well done all those who have come forward with their “lived experience” of psychiatric drugs. I believe that what has been discussed is but the tip of the iceberg. To read about my experience and my attempts to achieve change through reform of Mental Health legislation Google “Doug Humphries mental health labels petitions submission mental health act WA” The following links come up.
    Presentation at the Asia Pacific Mental health conference 2012 Perth WA.

    Submissions on MH Act reform

    Petition to Western Australian Parliament read in by Stephen Dawson$File/C39%20S1%2020140624%20All.pdf

    Comment on other blogs
    scroll down on this link
    Cheers Doug Humphries

  11. J.Hill 10/04/2017 at 1:33 am #

    The way that we come off these drugs can be as damaging as long-term use of these drugs. Therefore, putting in place government-created withdrawal clinics that rely upon the personal prejudices of “experts” causes even more harm. Non-government promoted information tends only to be pharma propaganda.

    I suggest that careful research and not a cult-like following those who talk the most is the first step for those in the thrall of prescribed drugs. I also suggest being very careful when communicating. An earlier poster wrote ….”and if you disagree with the cruel treatment of forcing someone to take drugs for the rest of their lives you too can become labelled “…. I take her words very seriously.

    • Barry Haslam. 10/04/2017 at 9:40 am #

      I agree with you J.Hill. That coming off these drugs of legal dependence can be as damaging as long term use of these drugs. Here in the UK we need countrywide dedicated withdrawal services and after care facilities, staffed by personnel who have personal and informed insight into withdrawing patients slowly and safely.

      You cannot bring people off benzodiazepine and Z drugs in weeks, as is the case with many present detox facilities. This is far too dangerous and in many cases leads to undue suffering and permanent physical damage and adds insult to injury.
      Withdrawal should be at the pace which suits the patient and NOT the medical profession or doctors.

      In 2004 I was primarily responsible for helping to set up the first NHS funded dedicated withdrawal facility here in Oldham, Lancashire for patients who had become long term iatrogenic dependent on benzodiazepine drugs. The service was funded by Oldham Primary Care Trust and the contract was won by Addiction Dependency Services. HO. in Manchester. This service is still current today and is under the umbrella of One Recovery and ADS. It has now been extended to cover patients who have become dependent on Z drugs, SSRI drugs and opiate painkillers and is the only 1 of it’s kind in the country with these dedicated withdrawal services and is funded by Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group.

      If Oldham can set up this vitally needed public health service then there is absolutely NO excuse, for the rest of the country not to follow suit.

      The Department of Health have passed the buck on iatrogenic drug dependency by stating that this issue is a local one. It is certainly NOT a local issue, it is a massive national issue which the Department of Health, Government and the National Treatment Agency simply throw into the long grass and hope it will not be seen.

      This is the real scandal of this medical disaster, as described by Professor C.Heather Ashton and in 1994 as a ” National scandal” by David Blunkett MP, now Lord Blunkett.

      Innocent iatrogenic drug dependent patients who only ever took their meds as prescribed by their doctors are not misusers and abusers, need to be treated with compassion and honesty and not be deliberately stigmatized; purely in order to cover up the negligence of the medical profession and the sheer apathy of government sucking up to the Pharmaceutical industry.

      We need change and we need it now.

      Barry Haslam.

      • j.hill 02/05/2017 at 2:39 am #

        Agreed. Every region of the planet is in serious need of scientific information. Until now, we have been under the control of medical mythology as opposed to science. That mythology controls most of what is offered as benzo recovery direction. Its failure is indicated by the tidal waves of pleas for help after the mythology was used as help. Do we need more of this? That’s my concern. Funding is good but what is funded?

        One bit of out of context mythology is the often repeated statement that the slower the better. It’s clear that most of what is offered is too fast, but what is fast or slow? Naming a dosage cut that is clearly too large and expecting to correct it by waiting longer between dosage cuts can be called slow. This sense of “slow” is counter productive at best and harmful at worst.

        A better kind of slow is using the reductions that are proven to be acceptable to the individual case. These can’t be generally identified as the interval between 0.25mg Valium and 1.0mg Valium, but that is what is ordered and called small in many regions. We need to reassess our preconceptions of facts and the aphorisms that we find both on the internet and in medical practices. This goes against the grain of tradition, but it clears the mindlessly repeated and unsubstantiated aphorisms that abound.

        I am not British and so have no right to vote for UK issues. I am a human, though, and so have a duty to post my findings and my experience for your consideration.

        I am a former benzo victim. By victim, I mean the object of a crime and not a helpless casualty. I’ve worked in this arena for over 11 years , but Barry has stuck to the cause for so much longer and so thank you Barry. Most former benzoees disappear into the woodwork but not you. Whether we always agree or not, we fight the same war.

        Let’s think carefully, use language carefully so that we are understood and so that we will not fall into old mental set traps. I’ll risk saying that most of what is accepted as true today never had a scientific basis. It was unsubstantiated talk from respected people. Let’s test the talk and find evidence rather than following unsubstantiated words from people who seemed to be nice and otherwise educated. Your own mind is your best defence


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