Rapid withdrawal and misprescribing of a benzodiazepine leads to £1.35m settlement for Luke Montagu, CEP co-founder

The UK Times Magazine today publishes a long article describing CEP founder Luke Montagu’s terrible experience with antidepressants and sleeping pills:

When he was first prescribed these drugs at 19, Montagu was not depressed and had never been diagnosed with depression. He was a student at New York University, and had recently undergone a general anaesthetic for a sinus operation that left him with headaches and feeling, as he puts it, “not myself”. Without carrying out any tests, a British GP announced that he had a “chemical imbalance of the limbic system” and prescribed Prozac. Montagu, “impressionable and in awe of doctors”, swallowed them unquestioningly.

However, he didn’t feel any better and over the course of the next five years saw various doctors who, no less than nine times, switched him to different drugs. Montagu was given a variety of different diagnoses, with no two medics seemingly able to agree. “One doctor said it was anxiety, another suggested conversion disorder. None of them seemed to accept what I knew – and would point out quite heatedly – which was this was all a consequence of the sinus operation and the chopping and changing of the various drugs.”

On a couple of occasions, Montagu had tried to quit, but always felt so bad that he quickly resumed the drugs. “I thought it was because I needed the medication; now I understand that it was because I was going into withdrawal each time I tried to come off the drugs. But the doctors never spotted that,” he says.

“When I restarted the drugs, I would feel better, at least initially. At the time, I didn’t realise that I was just like a junkie who needed a fix – my body and brain had become dependent on these chemicals. My life was going well otherwise: I was living in Kensington with a girlfriend, extremely busy with my internet business. Eventually, I decided just to stay on the drugs and only went to the doctor for repeat prescriptions; I kept taking what was prescribed and managed to keep functioning even though I didn’t feel 100 per cent.”

At the end of 2008, however, Montagu, by then 38, resolved that enough was enough. He was on a new antidepressant, Effexor, that made him feel wired. To counteract this, he’d been prescribed sleeping pills, clonazepam, but they made him forgetful. He decided to start the new year clean.

At the time, he was seeing Dr Mark Collins, a psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital in southwest London, whose patients had included Princess Margaret, Ruby Wax and the Marquess of Blandford. “Dr Collins went to Eton; he was from a similar background. He seemed to be somebody I could trust,” Montagu says ruefully.

On Collins’s advice, Montagu checked himself in to the Priory, where his clonazepam was taken away (he stayed on Effexor). “I thought I wouldn’t sleep for two or three nights, then I’d be so tired I’d crash out. Instead, it felt like my brain was torn into pieces.”

Collins, he later learnt, had made a dreadful mistake – long-term users of sleeping pills need to taper off over months, or even years. Over the next few days, Montagu experienced a “tidal wave of horrific symptoms”.

Initially, he couldn’t walk. “I couldn’t coordinate my body or judge distances, I didn’t know how far things were away from me. There was this incredibly loud ringing in my ears. I couldn’t see – everything was blurry and I was having flashback after flashback of distant memories, things dredged up from years gone by. I was crying for no reason, sobbing hysterically.

“It was like the detox hell I’d seen in films like Trainspotting. I thought, I’m just going to have to ride this out and it will get better in the same way heroin withdrawal eventually loses its grip. But I had no idea that withdrawal from long-term use of sleeping pills can take months and sometimes years.”

A few days later, Montagu discharged himself. “I was in a state of absolute terror. I just wanted to get out of the hospital because I knew that something dreadful had been done to me. Somehow I made it home, but there I realised everything was different. I’d left the house as one person, but returned as another. In a quite literal way, I had lost my mind.”

Since then, Montagu has endured seven years of what can only be described as hell. A softly spoken man with a gentle demeanour, he is mainly calm as he describes his ordeal, but occasionally his voice wobbles.

Back home, he found himself unable to focus. “I could barely put a sentence together, remember who I was or what I was supposed to do. It was as if parts of my brain had been erased. For the first couple of years, I had to try to pretend to be the person that I was, while knowing inside that that person had gone.”

[His business] needed him, but he couldn’t function. “I’ve always been very good at getting things done and knowing what to say, but now I’d sit in a meeting without knowing what to do next.” At a board meeting he burst into tears in front of his fellow directors. “I had to say, ‘I just can’t do this. I’m really not well.’”

He realised he could no longer work. For the next three years, Montagu was stuck at home in agonising physical and mental pain. Horrified by the risk of additional drug harm, he decided to wean himself very slowly from the Effexor, leaving him with severe burning nerve pains, like pins and needles, all over his body, that continue to this day.

…As he slowly began to feel better, Montagu poured his energies into fighting back. Knowing his experiences would be dismissed as anecdote, together with various credible medics, he co-founded CEP, the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry, which gathers evidence of the harm caused by psychiatric drugs in order to lobby politicians and medical bodies. To give others hope, he uploaded short films of recovery stories to the website. They have become a popular resource.

“It’s pretty shocking that there are virtually no NHS resources to help people get though the hell of withdrawal, particularly since the problem has largely been caused by NHS treatment,” says Montagu, still measured in his speech but his passion rising. “It’s getting worse – more than 57 million prescriptions for antidepressants were issued in England last year. That’s 7 per cent more than 2013 and 500 per cent more than 1992.”

CEP’s message upsets many, who retort that such drugs have saved countless people from suicide. Montagu shrugs. “Psychiatry is a corrupt and dishonest business: it treats so-called illnesses that don’t exist with drugs that don’t cure and can cause great harm. And once you have been harmed, it then diagnoses further illness and prescribes yet more drugs. I know they can help some people in the short term, but they’re just psychoactive like alcohol or cocaine – they can make you feel better initially, but over the long term they cause dependence and destroy your physical and mental health.”

Montagu eventually sued Dr Collins for the rapid withdrawal and long-term misprescribing of clonazepam, which led to a £1.35m out of court settlement, including legal fees.

The full article can be viewed at: http://cepuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Times-Magazine-18-July-2015-pdf.pdf

 

41 Responses to Rapid withdrawal and misprescribing of a benzodiazepine leads to £1.35m settlement for Luke Montagu, CEP co-founder

  1. Laura 18/07/2015 at 12:30 pm #

    I’m very pleased to hear about the settlement! Congratulations! Of course money can never take away the pain of what has happened to Luke. But at least it will ease the financial impact.

    It’s a very important step in the right direction. Hopefully it will wake doctors up to the fact that they have to know what they’re doing before starting to play with people’s lives and health.

    Thanks so much to the CEP for fighting this fight for all of us.

    I wish I could sue my doctor for not warning me about the risks of antidepressants, but I think I’ll not be able to succeed with this in court. Handing out antidepressants to everybody without giving any information is a very common practice unfortunately.

  2. paul pezzack 18/07/2015 at 1:33 pm #

    congratulations Luke on winning.sorry you had to suffer so much.
    no amount of money can compensate for this hell.
    i too have suffered extremely bad from prozac for 8 years.after being told it was ok to go cold turkey as there was no such thing as prozac withdrawal.
    even after reinstating after 12 weeks of pure hell ive continued to suffer extreme pain and psychological effects.
    its 8 years now and my life has been totally ruined.
    so many of my friends have suffered too.
    its inhumane how people are treated and dismissed as mental.

  3. Greg 18/07/2015 at 2:47 pm #

    Its only a matter of time before we realise that the philosophy and practice of modern medicine, not unlike conventional psychiatric practice, is to a great extent scientifically redundant, non-relating and controlling; that its continued existence is only sustainable on a basis of a with-holding, legally monopolistic co-dependency between gullible ‘patient’, devious governance and pharmaceutical sleight of hand.

  4. Bobbi Wilkins 18/07/2015 at 4:18 pm #

    I live in the US and I was started on Clonazapam after a back injury, for a jumpy left leg..I could not stop the drug and I was always told it was harmless, just stay on it.
    After 12 years of worsening health (physical, mental, emotional) I tried to get help to stop taking the 1mg at night only..Because of incompetence in everyone I saw, I was eventually CT’ed and forced into a hell I wish on no one. If a lawyer reads this that can help me sue many people in the USA (Including a Medical Board)…Please try to find me. It has been almost 3 years and I am just now able to walk and do simple things again. I have lost almost everything and I am financially ruined. I hope to start over again eventually.
    This is a crime that is so wrong that most people cannot fathom. I cannot get the time and restore my good name..but I am sure money would help me get started on a new beginning.

    • LA. G. 29/12/2015 at 9:10 pm #

      Prescribed Clonazepam following a work-related injury-spinal surgery. I was overdoing my physical therapy after learning that my employer was uninsured. The doctor at the place I was sent to, prescribed ridiculous amounts of various drugs. I refused the drugs. I was told to take the drugs or lose medical treatment, and to trust the doctor’s expertise. I asked every question I could think of about taking Clonazepam. Fifteen years later, the doctor retires, seeing all his patients before leaving. He told me to never stop taking the Clonazepam or I’d be sorry. That’s ALL he said about it. I was left with his replacement MD. When my PCP chose to discontinue my clonazepam on fine day, he did so without thought, care, research, etc. When i was soon in the throws of benzo withdrawal syndrome, he told me I was just having a panic attack….that I’d be fine. I told him EXACTLY what was happening and he still refused to acknowledge anything. His office person spoke very condescendingly to me, saying: Oh, Lori Ann, you won’t get any pills from us…” Pills? I need serious medical help! I was sent to the ER several times. Each visit recorded my BP over 300. When asked who my PCP was, after I answered….they were hands-off. NO TREATMENT GIVEN. This happened 3 times. I gave up on the ER. I fired the PCP (had to). Here it is a year later…..
      ..my ears are ringing to no end. My body is a mess. I need help with food, shopping, everything. I have NO help. ZERO medical attention! The prescribing place (Spectrum Healthcare) I was again referred to, would do NOTHING. They DID offer me PILLS of a different sort!? I have taken ZERO pills or medications since being abruptly withdrawn/dropped on my a** from the clonazepam. The abrupt withdrawing doctor took ALL his patients of ALL addictive meds (per: his front desk). He may look good to Medicare and ‘on paper’ but this man and his staff have destroyed my very life. The negligence of the initial prescribing place refusing to do a taper…..is HIGHESTLY accountable! They are now doing tapers!!!!!!!!!! They refused to give me a taper from THEIR PRESCRIBED MEDS. Every medical professional I know or have seen cannot fathom how I am even alive. And from what I’ve been through, and am going through……I can’t believe it either. I honestly wish this would have killed me…….I have NO quality of life now. All my talents, skills, applied knowledge and work……….gone. I thought I lived in order to tell this horrendous story to warn people about trusting doctors and their practicing hospitals. I have a trail of all of it……it’s in the system. No good lawyer will help me. HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP.

    • Bill Hutchinson 02/03/2016 at 8:43 pm #

      To both “Bobbi Wilkins”, and “La. G.”, thanks for your stories. I hear you! I went on a multi-year taper from several OTHER psych drugs, with clonazepam – which is also called “Klonopin” here in the U.S. I started tapering off .5mg 3x day, and got to where I rarely needed any, when I was abruptly terminated by a quack Doc., and a crooked, for-profit local hospital. One POSSIBLE answer MIGHT be to try “benedryl”, also known as “diphenhydramine”, which is an allergy/sinus medication. It MIGHT help, at low doses, to get past the worst of benzo withdrawal. Also, visit >madinamericabeyondmeds<, and look for Dr. Kelly Brogans' website. I can recommend all 3 resources myself. I'd like to find a good lawyer here in America, too…. God knows I could use the money from what would be a "slam-dunk" lawsuit win. Good luck!

      • j.hill 07/03/2016 at 8:49 pm #

        Bill,
        I’d like to comment on what poses as resources, but the other issue is accessing legal redress for the damage that you sustained and the medical bullying that you met. What about loss of life?

        In the USA, we have laws that are there to protect people like you. In practice, the laws may as well not be there. A lawsuit requires testimony from people who are recognized as experts. What expert is willing to lose everything in the service of telling the truth?
        j.hill

        • Sandra Villarreal 08/03/2016 at 5:26 am #

          About the only psychiatric drug expert we have in the U.S. is Dr. Peter Breggin who is very expensive, although, the very best. So once again, the poor people lose out because most of us gravely harmed are already living on Disability checks which puts us below poverty level. So there is no help for us.

          My friend in Washington talks of suicide daily, he’s still suffering extreme Protracted Benzo Withdrawal symptoms, who was able to contact Dr. Breggin knowing he can’t afford him. So where do we go from here? No where..

  5. Jean Baker 18/07/2015 at 9:04 pm #

    Thank you for fighting back! Here in America, it’s very hard to sue when nobody believes you. So many are able to relate with your story. It’s so terribly frightening! How could a pill take over ones mind? I never thought this could happen! I used to think, mind over matter, but from a prescription of ativan, I was thrown into a different dimension and I could no longer snap out of it.
    “Back home, he found himself unable to focus. “I could barely put a sentence together, remember who I was or what I was supposed to do. It was as if parts of my brain had been erased. For the first couple of years, I had to try to pretend to be the person that I was, while knowing inside that that person had gone.”

  6. M. Salima Hitchcock 18/07/2015 at 9:08 pm #

    First of all, you refer to clonazepam (brand name Klonopin in the U.S) as “a sleeping pill”. Never once do you call it a “benzodiazepine tranquillizer). Yes, clonazepam does have sedative hypnotic properties, but it’s also an anxiolytic, muscle relaxant, anti-convulsant/anti-seizure, and amnesiac. It’s highly potent, (more so than Benzo “sleeping pills”(e.g. Dalmane (flurazepam); ProSom (estazolam); or temazepam (Restoril) …and also a highly addictive short-acting tranquilizer (20x more potent than valium; 10x more potent than Lorazepam (Ativan).) These short-acting tranquilizers bind very tightly to the GABA (A) receptors throughout the body and brain…and also profoundly suppress the CNS. So when the drug is stopped abruptly, especially if you’ve reached Tolerence and are iatrogenicaly addicted and (or “physically dependent…same thing) (Doctor has been prescribing irresponsibly), the CNS rebounds strongly, suppressed adrenaline rushes into the system ( a “fight or flight” anxiety attack takes place) and an ACUTE withdrawal begins….it cannot be predicted how severe it will be from person to person. W/drawals are long, four weeks + and much more difficult than heroin w/rawal!! People withdrawing from benzo tranguilizers should NEVER be abandoned by doctors, and forced to go thru a “cold turkey” or rapid detox. This is criminal!! It can be life-threatening….e.g.anaphylactoid/anaphylactoid reaction; possible seizures;; and, in the 1980’s during valium and lorazepam crisis, in the UK, there were 891 recorded suicides from benzo tranq’s (or BZ’s) during use and during w/drawals (can CAUSE depression…pt. should be removed from the BZ, SLOWLY, and PROPERLY.) Xanax is as potent as Klonopin, but can be more quickly addictive (2 to 3 weeks), and far worse w/drawal symptoms are possible (mania, convulsions) Information: the entire benzo.org.uk website, beginning with The Ashton Manual: Benzodiazepines–How They Work, How To Withdraw. Also on the site…Dr. Reg Peart (many papers, and his education organization.. VOT (victims of tranquilizers); CITA (Counsel for Iatrogenic Tranquilizer Addiction or ITA); Vernon Coleman, M.D.; the media archives 1985-2014…UK) or A – Z (alphabetically); Quotations: Dr. Heather Ashton’s main page. much more on site to explore…links. World experts on benzodiazepines… Also Peter Breggin, MD (psychiatrist, clinical psychopharmacologist…Ithaca, New York. One of his most important books: “Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry: Drugs, Electroshock, and the Psychopharmaceutical Complex”(2008) Peter Breggin .com Facebook/ Peter Breggin,MD Every Psych drug/neuroleptic and info on ALL side effects in detail. he has developed “Empathic Psychotherapy”….will not prescribe psych drugs in his practice. The foremost Reform Psychiatrist. See his book: How To Withdraw From Psychiatric Drugs”. also on benzo.org.uk…the benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.
    “Sleeping Pills” are just as dangerous as the tranquillizers..for both, should only take a week or two at most (Ashton, Breggin etc.) See list of all psych drugs and benzos at back of “Brain Disabling Treatments. And do read Robert Whitaker’s “Anatomy of An Epidemic” (2008) All these people are on YouTube. Also Whitaker’s website: MadinAmerica.com….a forum for blogs by well-known psychiatrist, clinical psychologists, many therapists, former patients etc. There’s a paradigm shift taking place…towards Evidence Based Alternatives. The out of control diagnosis and drugging of children, adolescents, and adults for Big Pharma Profit is proving damaging long-term (See Whitaker…”Anatomy of an Epidemic: The Biopsychiatric Paradigm is failing… Parma has lied….patients become more ill on psych drugs taken long-term…and phama wants you on them “for life”. $$$$$$$

    • M, Salima Hitchcock 09/10/2015 at 10:50 pm #

      I just returned to this page to re-read Luke Montagu’s story…..then I scrolled down to the comments and discovered all the completely excessive comments I made. The first one I guess could be forgiven…..but the next three are completely unhinged: completely repetitious, confrontational, and so embarrassing to me. I don’t think I understood at the time exactly what Cepuk represented??… but still no excuse for the run-on last three messages…Nuts….irrational. NOW of course I realize I was preaching (over-preaching) to the choir. God, is this what benzos can do to the mind? I went though a prescribed ordeal and cold-turkey…) Or am I just losing it naturally?? Would it be possible for you to delete at least the last three messages? I’m quite throughly humiliated. I’d really appreciate a response. And…thank you so much for the Sept. 18th London Conference!!

      • Sandra Villarreal 10/10/2015 at 4:38 pm #

        Salima, you don’t have to apologize for your rants & raves. I too, have very significant cognitive impairment from years taking psychiatric drugs, but so much more so from my ‘cold turkey’ benzo withdrawal. We’ve already been shamed to death by psychiatrists, the mental health world and everyone in between – don’t shame yourself any further. Believe me, I understand. Luke’s story was quite amazing! And what he doing is even more amazing.

        So chin up – smile on your face – and carry on my dear…..

    • DEBRA BRYAN 27/12/2015 at 8:18 pm #

      I have been soon 2 mg xanexs for almost 4 years and haven’t gone thru withdrawals but since. 8 couldn’t sleep, I had hallucinations but no pain. I’m also on Wellbrtron 300mg, jtop the Wellbrutron and Syraquil but the xanex iand Syraquil 25mg. I can stop the other 2 but xanexs I’ve only gone a few days without. I’m 60 Yrs a5ing am depressed whete 8 dont go out the house, I watch TV take a half xanex sleep several ho7rs, wake up, watch tv, bedtime take the other half of xanex. Recently for no reasonand i didnt wven know, the doctor doubled the dosage from 30 xanex a month to 60. I refuse to take them the way he wants. 8m going to try to slow detox myself off the 1 bar of xanex a day. Who can tell me the best way since Im nit taking that much but because of my age, oh and I almosr forgot, Ive been on methadone, 1old, not e

  7. J.Hill 18/07/2015 at 9:50 pm #

    I am so encouraged to read the well-thought and well-written articles and comments. The current drug-taper protocols obviously cause the same damage as the sudden and complete cessation of the drug in question.

    In addition, many physicians have accepted the advertising claims of “detox” businesses operating in many countries. The idea that no more damage or pain is present after the drug is “eliminated from the body” is without any merit at all. It is more correctly called: cold-turkey withdrawal, and the result can be major illness and incapacity for life. Families and spouses of the actual victims are here to tell the whole story.

    Once damaged by herculean taper protocols, who really recovers?
    And media are full of supposedly valid protocols that have been tested not at all.

    We know enough to avoid these enslaving prescriptions. We now know enough to avoid the people who would force drugging via government actions. What can we do for those already lost in a state of lasting medical-harm and who now have no choices? This is loss of life while the heart still beats.

    Bravo to the plaintiff. I wish that I had been so brave.

  8. Bonnie Foz 18/07/2015 at 9:59 pm #

    I cannot begin to express enough sympathy–and empathy—for Luke Montagu and what he has endured! I experienced something somewhat similar due to rapid withdrawal, but nothing like his ordeal. But for 6 months I was very uncomfortable physically and mentally, and incapacitated, and almost committed myself to a psychiatric hospital so I wouldn’t take my life, even though I didn’t feel depressed or anxious—-just a vague, all pervasive intolerable “pain” (tho it didn’t hurt) of staying alive and trying to cope. Horrible. I faked being OK even when feeling suicidal. Eventually, with the help of a different doctor, I was very very slowly weaned off the benzodiazapine and onto Zoloft. A month later I was back to my old self. Too scary for words.

    I wish all the best for Luke, and that he gets relief from his pain. I wish I could wave a magic wand for him. Is it possible that, it being so long since the original event, he could try a low dose of Zoloft for a while? I suggest it Only because it helped me turn the corner.

  9. M, Salima Hitchcock 18/07/2015 at 10:16 pm #

    I just wrote a long comment with many sources (books, websites, etc.)by well-known psychiatrists that are revealing the actual truth about biopsychiatric drug therapy and the risks and harms associated with them…far out-weighing the short-term benefits. The drugs are not working longterm, making patients more ill. And with copious, extensive, international research sources (and longterm clinical experience) the psychiatrists , clinical psychopharmacoligists, and others are revealing the actual drug-induced, iatrogenic physiological and psychological toxicity and harms from antipsychotics, antidepressants, ADHD stimulant drugs…all of them. Peter R. Breggin M.D (U.S.); Joanna Moncrieff, M.D.(London); Peter Gotzsche,M.D.(Copenhagen); Robert Whitaker(U.S) in his book “Anatomy of an Epidemic”(2010); David Healy, M.D. (Cardiff Univ, Wales); Heather Ashton, M.D. (UK) in “The Ashton Manual”…benzo.org.uk (expert on benzodiazepines…and many, many more . Also, clonazepam (Klonopin) is not just a “sleeping pill”…it is a potent, highly addictive short acting Benzodiazepine Tranquilizer with Severe withdrawal affects after the patient reaches Tolerance and becomes addicted. They behave like narcotics….and far more difficult to w/draw from than Heroin….long withdrawals (at least four weeks or longer with protracted symptoms)…..
    After writing and submitting my comment (more detailed than this), it was DELETED with a comment “This has been submitted twice by you.” Not True. I’ve never been on this site before….and it was my first and only comment. Who is truly controlling this website???

  10. M, Salima Hitchcock 18/07/2015 at 11:13 pm #

    Where is the first comment…detailed…that I wrote just prior to the 18/07/2015 10:16 pm comment that I just wrote above asking why my first comment is not here. It came up briefly after I just wrote and submitted the above comment….and then disappeared. Do you TRULY want people educated about the failing efficacy of psychiatric drugs, the “over-diagnosing and over-prescribing….and the disabling illnesses, and iatrogenic addiction(physical dependency…same thing) that they cause (which will discussed further at the September 13 conference in London….the link which you have on this page, above right entitled “More Harm Than Good: Confronting the Psychiatric Medication Epidemic.” Some of the psychiatrists I’ve mentioned above are leading this conference: Peter Breggin (US); Joanna Moncrieff (London); Robert Whitaker(US medical/Science Researcher and Journalist); Prof Peter Kinderman (UK); Prof. Peter Gotzsche,MD (Copenhagen); Prof. Joh Abraham; Dr. James Davies. These psychiatric professionals are a part of the growing paradigm shift, the Reform Movement, towards Evidence-Based Alternatives to highly toxic, damaging chemicals with short efficacy.
    Read Robert Whitaker’s book “Anatomy of an Epidemic”(2010). The research is impeccable…..this is not an epidemic of supposedly defective brains with “Mental illness”; it is an epidemic of drug-induced and manufactured psychiatric and physiological abnormalities. All the “medications”….drugs that are crude chemicals… are incredibly damaging. I’m seeing it al around me… Check out the psychotherapeutic work being done in Gothenberg, Sweden…The Family Service Foundation/Healing Homes; And “Open Dialogue” in Finland; And Peter Breggin’s “Empathic Psychotherapy” in the US. He does not prescribe Psychiatric drugs (45 years in practice). Go to Madinamerica.com Is this Website just a front for the pharma companies?????

  11. M, Salima Hitchcock 18/07/2015 at 11:40 pm #

    And I meant is YOUR website…cepuk.org….a front for pharma companies.? I certainly did not mean MadinAmerica.com This site was set up by Robert Whitaker as a forum for health professionals, former psychiatric patients, researchers etc. to write …..professionals from the UK, Europe, U.S. etc . Invaluable to keep up with what’s happening….along with YouTube, Peter breggin.com, benzo.org.uk…and other sites… and the many informative, revealing books by reformers being written. I have so much respect for the love, compassion, patience, care, long hours, extensive research exposing what I’m calling “The Grand Pharma/Biopsychiatry/biological reductionist Lie” I am a witness to the suffering the drugs have caused/ are causing maong family, friends…
    And as UK Psychologist Stephen Weatherhead wrote on Twitter recently @Ste Weatherhead: “Personal testimonies are not dismissible as unscientific/anecdotal/non-generalized…They are #narrative knowledges. To be respected, I might add.

  12. Susan 19/07/2015 at 1:11 am #

    Congratulations Luke. This is a victory for all of us who have experienced the hell you so eloquently described–and thank you all for the important work you do at CEP.

  13. caroline hammond 19/07/2015 at 11:26 am #

    everyone I know who has taken a settlement has also had a gagging order…..I wonder why that was not the case with you? Perhaps because you sued the Dr and not the drug company?

    • j.hill 23/07/2015 at 9:59 pm #

      I, too would be grateful for a clarification of why there was not a Gag-order. Was there no order because gag orders usually are a requirement of a settlement as opposed to a court order and this was a court order?

      • Caroline Moore 29/09/2015 at 6:47 pm #

        I was Luke’s solicitor. Gagging orders are old-fashioned in my view, but sometimes till requested. Any specialist solicitor worth their salt will refuse such requests outright and insist upon settlement without any such provision.

  14. ang 19/07/2015 at 12:53 pm #

    Well done. Now how do I sue effexor, it has destroyed my life…. How more than that can I bring Merck to account for my zoloft….. my doctor gave it to me, when it wasnt even legal in Australia, damn he had to give me more freebies from his cupboard. Result? I fell pregnant unexpectedly, gave up the drugs, quick as I could, over 8 weeks………. Result a classic zoloft baby, born well, died in agony 3 days later……… I reported it everywhere……… now TGA Australia? cant find the report. I did another, yeah 20 years later.,…. I demanded a copy, it somehow seemed to blame none existant things, not zoloft, I demanded they re write it, then they said I could not have my name on the report, for my privacy? What rot, for the privacy, so they could bin the report again………. And every issue, is a trauma, I will try again, to get a final copy of the the correct report……………… Damn these bastards called Merck et al, damn their lies, damn their power over politicians, damn greed……………… well done UK…………………If only Australia could follow, with the truth.

  15. Millie Kieve 20/07/2015 at 11:11 am #

    Congratulations to Luke and his family for highlighting a problem that affects thousands of people.

    This also affords me an opportunity to publicly thank, on behalf of APRIL charity, Luke Montagu, Barry Haslam and Professor Heather Ashton, CEP and their supporters, for all you have done to help publicise involuntary tranquilliser & psychotropic addiction & withdrawal problems.

    Without your endeavours and those of several small charities, iatrogenesis linked to pharmaceutical drugs would still be ignored as it has been for years. The only conferences addressing adverse drug reactions (ADRs) & iatrogenesis, have been those organised by APRIL, in 2001, 2004 & 2008, CEP’s recent and forthcoming meeting in September 2015 and The Perils of Prescription Medicines which the Royal College of Physicians held in 20013 but failed to publicise or to use the knowledge gained, for the advantage of patients. The Medical Community appears to focus on diagnosis and creation of new disease models while ignoring the cost to society of iatrogenic illness.

    Failure by the NHS, MHRA & NICE to address iatrogenic illness: Failure of medical education to address prevention and recognition of adverse drug reactions or teach students about dependence or how to assist withdrawal from addictive pharmaceutical drugs, is a public health scandal.

    The General Medical Council removed the subject of Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics from their ‘Tomorrow’s Doctors’ guidelines in 1992. No sensible reason for this was forthcoming when I asked a former Chair of the GMC.

    The lack of support or intelligent help from health professionals in the NHS to withdraw or reduce, safely, from benzodiazepine, Z drugs, SSRIs and other psychotropic medicines causes pain, suffering and many deaths. It was only due to CEP that the British National Formulary was recently updated to include some guidance on withdrawal from benzodiazepines.

    I had a private meeting about the issue of BNF and other BMA publications paucity of information about withdrawal advice for benzodiazepines, Z drugs, SSRIs, pain killers and corticosteroids with doctors at the BMA in 2009 and was told by one that the Ashton Manual was too large for him to get his head around! Concerns I expressed only replicated Heather and Barry’s attempts and it was not until Luke and CEP with the backing of Lord Sandwich put pressure on them, that changes were made.

    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, whether current or however long ago an ADR or withdrawal reactions occurred. If we submit enough reports of iatrogenic illness and withdrawal adverse effects the MHRA or EMA may eventually have to take action. Report to http://www.yellowcard.gov.uk also to http://www.rxisk,org an independent data base backed by Dr David Healy and others.

  16. Debbie 20/07/2015 at 8:19 pm #

    It is with pleasure that I read that you won your lawsuit. Unfortunately these pills are still being handed out as if they were candy and most doctors still do not know how to taper patients off of these drugs. These drugs have ruined so many lives and for those of us who were long term users the struggle to get off is beyond anyone’s imagination. No one but those of us who have gone through this or are going through it can explain the pain associated with this. You have shown us that we can go on with our lives, win this battle and that there is some purpose to our cause – to see that others are helped and do not have to live through what we have lived through.

  17. Leonie 21/07/2015 at 11:53 am #

    Great article, Luke is a brave man to take on the medical system – otherwise inexplicably know as ‘care’. Surely all we’re asking for here is ‘informed consent’ for everyone? Are we not entitled to be fully informed of the compounds that we put in our bodies and that of our children? Considering the vast over-prescribing and polypharmacy that is now the norm in this era, we all deserve to know the full effects that consuming any medication can have.

    I have used Luke’s words in a collection of quotations that I have put together, for the purposes of informed consent. There are an increasing number of experts who are warning of the dangers of these drugs. And Hippocrates wept –

    https://leoniefennell.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/some-expert-quotes-for-the-purposes-of-informed-consent/

  18. karin Peperstraete 22/07/2015 at 8:35 pm #

    There is one program which helps kicking off psych drugs: The route out.
    Also suggestion: Hook up with CCHR. They really did even get convictions and sending some psychs in prison. Further more: They are relentless in getting justice for patients from rape, to misinforming and frauds.
    In short: I like them

  19. Colin 22/07/2015 at 8:44 pm #

    BENZODIAZEPINES NOT ANTI-DEPRESSANTS!

    First of all, well done for coming through the disabling and crippling withdrawal of benzodiazepines. I also had a horrific withdrawal but for me the worst was over in 10 months (but boy were those 10 months bad).I wish you all the very best.

    I must admit though I am disappointment about the way the story was headed because it looks like the withdrawal was caused by anti-depressants and not benzos. It is only as you read the story you discover that your withdrawal was down to benzodiazepines which leaves me feeling sad for all the sufferers who may not have read the full story. I think by editing your story you would give real hope to the thousands who’s lives are crippled by benzodiazepines and fire a desire in them to fight back against the system and challenge this long standing scandal to compensate for their own misery both mental and financial, many of whom have been left broken.

  20. Janette Robb 24/07/2015 at 12:51 am #

    I’m so glad Luc that you have been compensated for the treatment you received – but I’m sure you will agree that no amount of money will give you back the years you lost. Well done for publicising what you have gone through. I hope it will ultimately help many people out there.

    I personally have not experienced the nightmares described here – but my adult son has. He has Asperger syndrome. Aged 16 [1995] he was diagnosed as having clinical depression and prescribed seroxat. He took this unmonitored for 5 years. It made him manic and then he developed an ‘atypical psychosis’. We were living in Spain by this time and he was hospitalised there. The consultant told me he was ‘delirious’ and stopped seroxat overnight. Delirium [drug toxicity] can cause permanent brain damage or even death. We were also told there were signs of autism. In hospital he was given antipsychotics which [we now know] induced Tourettism.

    We came home to Scotland and he went straight to a local psychiatric unit, where they did not take on board the delirium or autism symptoms. He was again prescribed an SSRI – citalopram this time – which he took for another four years. He has been off SSRIs for a decade now. Withdrawal was over 6 months – not nearly long enough. He says he was ‘off his head’ for two years after cessation. What we suspect are withdrawal symptoms, still persist. Over the years he has been given 13 different antipsychotics and because of side effects or non-response, [and drug-induced psychosis] he has been labelled as having treatment-resistant schizophrenia.

    When he was 26 we had him privately assessed and he was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. Some clinicians queried the schizophrenia label, but with a constant stream of locums in our area, no one took action.
    Our son was also diagnosed as having bipolar, schizoaffective disorder and schizophreniform.

    Misdiagnosis in adults with Asperger syndrome is now well documented. My son is one of thousands trapped in the system, with antipsychotic-induced symptoms, which doctors want to treat with even more drugs.
    He is now on two antipsychotics and has been on diazepam for 2 and 1/2 years.

    But at least he is still alive for the moment – unlike others on the autism spectrum who have lost their lives because psychiatrists don’t have the required knowledge and understanding of metabolism problems existing in those with autism spectrum disorders.
    It’s now 20 years since his psychotropic nightmare began. He is 36 years old and, with support, lives in an independent flat adjoining a care home.
    Another life ruined.
    Thank goodness for CEPUK – we sorely need you!

  21. Pauline Thomas 08/08/2015 at 1:28 pm #

    My son is 43. He was brain damaged at birth. He has cerebral palsy and a learning disability. He walks. He talks. He cannot however explain how he is feeling, his emotions or if anything hurts him. He was happy, friendly and liked by everyone who knew him.

    When he was 17 he had an hip operation which kept him hospitalised for three months. He was flat on his back with a wooden pole keeps his legs apart. He suffered his first seizure while he was there. He was medicated on Carbamazepine and for 5 years was fit free. Just as we were going to wean him off the medication he began to have startle fits (any noise or suddden touch would make him jump and he would lose his balance) Sometimes this made him have a tonic clonic. He was medicated on Lamotrigine. These two drugs stayed with him for 25 years.

    The pyschiatrist who took over his care in our local Learning Disabilty Team was and still is an egoistical, know it all bully. He looks down on parents and makes no allowances for them to question his judgements.

    In 2008 my son stopped having seizures. We asked if his medication could be withdrawn. It was decided that Carbamazepine would be slowly withdrawn. We were pleased and duly began a slow withdrawal (over 18 months). He was taking 1000mg per day. Lamotrigine was left as it was (400mg per day) Guide lines set by Glaxo/Smithe/Kline suggested that as Carbamazepine was an enzyme inducer, any adjuntive drug would become stronger or maybe toxic as Carbamazepine was withdrawn. We informed the pyschiatrist of this but he completely dismissed us.

    Three weeks after he stopped taking Carbamazepine my son began having terrible nightmares. He was hallucinating and looked terrified all the time. He was saying people were telling him to do things. He must not play his music. His friends were dying. He was in an awful state and I feel that if he had the means to do so he would have killed himself.

    The psychaitrist refused to believe that Lamotrigine had become toxic and diagnosed an interical pyschosis because of the withdrawal of CBZ. He did admit he had not come across this before. He put back 600mg of the CBZ and my son got better, but he relapsed again after three weeks and it all came back again but this time he had catatonia type symptoms as well.

    We insisted that we get rid of his medication as we believed he was not benefiting from them. When we had nearly got rid of them he had a breakthrough seizure. When he came round he was was back to normal. No hallucinations, no walking about and freezing like a statue. We were euphoric. However this only lasted for 4 hours before he slipped back into his morbid state again.

    All this has gone on now for 18 months. The psychiatrist has tried clobazam, citalapram olanazepine and Haloperidol. None of them seem to work. We have been given Lorazepam if he gets too noisy.

    He is now in respite care to give us his elderly parents some peace. We have a break from the physical and mental strain of caring for him but it is still making us cry when we think of how our happy son has been ruined by these drugs.

  22. Sheila Shaw 19/09/2015 at 1:17 am #

    My son was so severely affected by psychotropic drugs, he did not know that his father had died until several weeks after coming off a drug. Yet his father had laid on a sofa in the same room as my son before being taken to Hospice. My son sat just feet away from him each day for 3. weeks. My husband had been dead for nearly 3 years when my son asked, where his father was. He broke down when I told him. He was in a terrible state. I can’t describe how bad it was. He began to grieve belatedly. Present psychiatrist scoffed and said he didn’t believe it had anything to do with the drug! There was no compassion at all for my son’s suffering.

  23. Sandra Villarreal 24/09/2015 at 12:01 am #

    I was so moved by Luke Montagu’s story because it mirrors my own almost page for page, although I have not won any money for my suffering. I voluntarily went into a psychiatric hospital from Klonopin, Effexor, Trazodone, & Lithium ‘cold turkey’ withdrawals and I was in a state of severe psychosis from the withdrawals but I learned while in there that because I kept having adverse reactions to the drugs given they said if I complained one more time of side effects they would start injecting. This is when they said I went from voluntary to involutary and was now ‘court ordered’ take their drugs. I now had no choice. So then my house burns to the ground, no insurance while in a Risperdal, Cogentin, Neurontin and Ambien induced drug haze, but that’s not why I’m writing this. Although, Luke and I come from opposite sides of the world, literally, he’s in England, I’m in Michigan (he is privileged, I am on disability) but our true suffering from psychiatric drug withdrawals runs on the same level, through our hearts and souls. I know his pain, he knows mine. Rxisk.org led me to his truly sad and remarkable story this lead me to cepuk.org which lead me to the wonderful ‘More Harm Than Good’ one day Conference which lead me to hope… And I can’t ask for anything more than that. Thank you Luke…

    • j.hill 25/09/2015 at 8:07 pm #

      I am outraged at the hospital’s statement that you became an involuntary psychiatric patient merely because you had adverse reactions to administered drugs.

      I suspect that your having gone from voluntary to involuntary is a clear lie and further abuse. If you reside in the USA, there are clear processes for involuntary commitment in every state. If you had been committed, you would have had the opportunity to summon witnesses, cross-examine the hospital staff, and most of all be represented by an attorney. Now I recognize that these laws frequently are ignored, but the aggressors are on thin ice. A suggestion, never sign anything. Ask for an attorney. And if told that you are committed, get an advocate not affiliated with the mental health industry. Do not antagonize the staff. You can’t protect yourself while you are still incarcerated.

      In the USA, people have the right to refuse treatment unless they are a clear threat to themselves or others. Therefore, the staff will claim that your are just that.
      I am not an attorney. However, I am working within the benzo-damaged community, and I have seen this before and too often.

      Is hospitalization ever appropriate for a withdrawing benzo-patient? Do psychiatrists know how to withdraw benzo-patients? They do now how to make benzo-dependent-patients.

      • Sandra Villarreal 26/09/2015 at 2:28 am #

        Thank you Jill, it’s been quite a journey for me dealing with psychiatric drug withdrawals that I almost didn’t live through. Just one year prior the date I endured a horrific ‘cold turkey’ Klonopin withdrawal that took my mind places I never knew existed. I was heavily involved with InterAct at my community mental healthcare facility taking DBT classes. I had been prescribed Klonopin for the past 10 yrs., knew I was addicted to it, and quite often overdosed on it with copious amounts of alcohol. I was afraid one of my overdoses would finally kill me. Mental Healthcare workers didn’t see this as any concern but I did so I told all 3 workers that I was going to stop taking my Klonopin and my drug & alcohol counselor sat at my kitchen table and told me “It will be fine, your on such a low dose.” and never said another word to me concerning any withdrawal symptoms I may experience. Not then, not during, not after. As I began feeling very, very bizarre I was refused access to my psychiatrist twice via my therapist which is protocol. I was told I would have to wait for my upcoming appt. I told them I wasn’t going to last that long. And I didn’t. I went into a constant state of terror psychosis at home, alone. I ended up in the psych ward & the ER. I filed a Recipients Right’s Case against them for this and it was ‘DENIED’. Then one year later I end up in Forest View forced to take yet more drugs. I can’t seem to win for losin’….

  24. John 28/09/2015 at 8:52 pm #

    I became tired at the age of 21. After a year of the body not working properly i broke down on the phone crying to the GP. He diagnosed depression and i took an anti D tablet every day for about 14 yrs. I was still physically just as ill as when i first became ill, but felt a little better about the situation. In that time i tried many different anti D’s because they weren’t working.

    Because of the net i was able to do a little research when a sperm test came back as low (we were trying for a baby) and i came across the thyroid world as a reason why i was so tired and ill.

    Well i am fully better 8 years later and i have a simple under active thyroid.

    I lost the best years of my life, however, and i know many, many more people are out there suffering with supposed mental conditions. The points i would like to make are:

    1) i don’t believe the vast majority of mental health problems are rooted in faulty brain chemistry. They are in fact hormonal dysfunctions.

    2) Hormones are not patentable and so no money can be made from them. However, brain signalling drugs are a massive business and lots of money can be made from them.

    3) The medical system is a racket. To break the system and have the truth come out is possibly not going to happen. Everyone is making money from the system. I spoke to my MP about some thyroid drug supply issues and he said the pharmaceutical industry in the UK is a big employer and tax payer. No politician is going to want to tackle this issue because it will alienate too many people.

    4) The only way out of this system is self education, with the help of websites like this. I also believe google will one day help us all become proficient doctors and so i am placing my faith in that happening.

    Already every GP in the land googles knowledge in front of our faces when confronted with an issue they don’t readily know. Why can’t we all do that ourselves ? Why pay someone £100k per yr when technology is already helping a GP do his job.

    5) It would be great if someone could do a TED talk on this huge topic.

  25. James 19/11/2015 at 8:07 pm #

    At 32 Clonazepam has ruined my life and robbed me of so much. I’m a husband, father of three and now severely incapacitated. I became suicidal while on Clonazepam “it’s not addictive” I was misinformed by a psychiatrist of all people, the very psychiatrist who prescribed it before having even met with me.

    It was 3 months later! I had my first appointment with this so called “psychiatrist”. He recommended I increase my dose and commence talking therapy for a PHYSICAL AILMENT which was subsequently correctly diagnosed as Pudendal Neuralgia.

    This criminal, sorry psychiatrist will pay for his blatant negligence.

    Stay away from psychotropic drugs, especially benzodiazepines! Your life may very well depend on it.

  26. Misty.W 22/12/2015 at 12:43 pm #

    Luke When I read your story, I felt like I had stepped out of reality and into my own biography. It was scary to read your story though very enlightening.

    I have also been on so many different medications since 1997. It has changed me so bad. My own family will even make comments “she is back to her old self”. This is when I’m not withdrawing and trying to quit certain medications myself. My family didn’t know this but my spouse did.

    The withdraw was so crazy and insane that I became extremely addicted. Klonopin was my drug of choice. I would wake up about 6 a.m and it was nothing to pop 3, 1mg tablets/pills by 9a.m if not before 9. Depends what I had to do that day. I didn’t take Klonopin for sleeping. I took it for the so called “Social Anxiety” disorder I was diagnosed w, along with major depression and OCD.

    I finally had to admit to my Dr that I was majorly misusing Klonopin, otherwise my partner was going to leave me. I went through hell and back again. There was no tapering. I was still sneaking my partners Klonopin but not taking as much. I could take upwards of 12, 1mg tablets a day. I got down to about 6 tablets a day. My partner then switched her anxiety medication and my Dr wouldn’t prescribe me a thing except Vistral (which is a joke for anxiety).

    I’m happy to report after years of Klonopin abuse, I am almost 2 years clean of it. I found a new Dr. Who now prescribes me Ativan. I hvnt even came close it wanted to abuse it. Though I now abuse my ultram for my fracture L5 and 2 herniated discs.

    This cycle of going from one med to the next has been going on for over 10 years. I was so anti drug that I even lost friends whom I didn’t want around if they were using. Then one day I had to be rushed to the ER thinking I was having a brain aneurism as my head was in excruciating pain. Come to find out it was my 1st major migraine. Oh I got relief in the form of a narcotic pain medication and included, over 10 yrs of self medicating, lies to Drs., misdiagnosed, over 15 mental hospital stays with no success.

    The thing is all I want is my anti drug self back. Sorry this is so long, but this felt so good to write. Thanks Misty

  27. Denise 12/01/2016 at 10:52 pm #

    I am going thru withdrawals of Klopin, I have been taking this drug for 7 years 2 mg twice a day for anxiety and restless leg syndrome. My primary care dr switched me to tranzine 7.5 mg twice a day without my knowing until I picked my prescription up, after calling in for a refill, and finding out my dr. couldn’t prescribe klopin anymore. I was told by the pharmacist that my dr couldn’t write klopin but the tranzine would be a easy switch. I adjusted ok to the tranzine, then came time for my regular check up with my dr as he is writing my prescriptions, high blood pressure, hormone replacement ambiem etc….he wrote Buspar, I ask where is my prescription for Tranzine?? he said oh I can’t write benzo’s any longer, I am lucky to be able to keep my licenses????? I am in total shock, because I had a severe seizure just a couple of years ago due to medication crossing, and another one about a year later both resulting in a trip to the hospital and the first one resulting in 12 hours of unconsciousness in ICU and 3 days in the hospital. I had a few Tranzine left so I started to cut back which lasted a few weeks, and not wanting to take the Buspar, in the mean time I got word of a “house dr” that would prescribe me the 2mg Klopin twice a day so I called he called me back and we set up an appointment. He came to my house, took my blood pressure ask me what medication I needed I told him 2 mg Klopin twice a day, he wrote prescription took my $100.00 ( no receipt) off I go to Kroger to fill my prescription happy as can be, got my script, the next month the same thing, except this time I got 3 refills so I go drop my prescription off at Kroger, and the night before I had to go to the ER regarding a sciatic nerve and restless leg, I was given a non narcotic shot and prescribed 20 soma’s and a prescription of ibouprofen I ask just for the soma to be filled and the cashier ask me if I wanted to pick my Klopin up as it was ready, I told her I would just pick it up when I picked the soma up, I came back to pick prescriptions up and the pharmacist told me he couldn’t fill any of my prescriptions because my regular dr was already prescribing me flexaril 10 mg, which I was out of and the soma was a muscle relaxer, so I was “double dipping” and also he called my “house dr” and he said to void my prescription of Klopin..I was one very upset woman, so I called my “house dr” he said and I quote “I can’t write that prescription for you anymore (completely avoiding saying the word Klopin) and I also cant see you anymore……I am in shock wondering what I did wrong???? ALL I did was ask for the ibouprofen not to be filled, so now I am not only going thru horrible withdrawals I am afraid I will go into a seizure. So I decided to take the Buspar, it being a new medicine I text my friend and my daughter telling them I had taken Buspar for the first time just incase anything went wrong. Well about 10 minutes after taking the Buspar my arms started to ingle then my hands and then my whole body. I text my friend and my daughter and said I think I am having allergic reaction to the Buspar I am tingling all over, both said get to the ER, well on my way I started having a tightening in my chest it go worse as I was arriving the ER, then I felt like I couldn’t breath. They took me back and took my vitals, BP was 177/99 and my heart rate was 127, the dr immediately ordered a EKG which only made my chest tighten more, thankfully I was having a panic attack and allergic reaction and not a heart attack, ER dr. prescribed me 15 1 mg Xanax and told me if I didn’t feel better in 3-4 hours to go back to the ER. It eased up after about 3 hours but I chose not to start the Xanax. I have been on 1/4 Tranzine ( I found I had misplaced) the last few days, but I am having horrible withdrawals still, I have been nowhere since Thursday, today is Tuesday, I have barely ventured out of my bedroom to let my dogs out or get something to eat resulting in a quick trip to the bathroom, horrible aches all over, BP high, crying for no reason, not wanting to see anyone at all, restless nights, and just feeling like pure crap. I am seriously thinking about reporting this “house dr” that cold turkey me off of klopin..Just praying I don’t have a seizure.

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