2017 Prescribed Drug Withdrawal Survey: Initial Findings

We would like to thank all those people who took the time to complete our recent survey on prescribed drug dependence and withdrawal.

The information you provided is vital in moving the case forward for specialist services for those adversely affected by prescribed drug dependence.

The responses we received were as moving and informative as they were upsetting. The true scale of the suffering generated by injudicious prescribing and medication harms was evident on every page.

We have already put the data to good effect, presenting key findings in two separate Parliamentary meetings with senior figures from Public Health England and the British Medical Association.

MPs and peers from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence (for which CEP provides the secretariat) have also been presented with the data.

We intend to publish the survey’s findings in an academic context. However academic publishing is a lengthy process, taking an average of 2 years from the writing up of findings, through peer-review, to final publication. In the meantime here is a summary of some of our initial findings:

  • The University of Roehampton & the Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry conducted a survey of patients affected by prescribed drug dependence in August 2017
  • The survey included 1660 responses overall and 369 responses from UK patients suffering from prescribed drug dependence
  • Preliminary findings regarding the UK cohort are as follows:
    • 65% of respondents reported that their doctors gave them little or no information on drug risks and side effects
    • 51% of respondents reported that withdrawal symptoms lasted one year or longer
    • On a scale of 1-10 respondents rated the negative impact of withdrawal on their life to be an average of 8.59
    • 27% of respondents are indefinitely off work due to withdrawal symptoms
    • On average, respondents held 10 withdrawal-related appointments with their doctor
    • 87% of respondents believe a national 24 hour helpline would be helpful, while 94% believe an accompanying website would be helpful

9 Responses to 2017 Prescribed Drug Withdrawal Survey: Initial Findings

  1. Fiona French 20/09/2017 at 8:14 pm #

    Thank you for letting us know some of the preliminary results. I hope more will be put into the public domain so that these can be shared with the many who completed the questionnaire despite the difficulties involved particularly for those who are very unwell. Those living outside the UK will also be keen to see preliminary results from their part of the world.

  2. stuart simpson 20/09/2017 at 11:05 pm #

    I’m glad that at least some people in the medical community are listening to us.

  3. susanne 20/09/2017 at 11:29 pm #

    Are you supporting the RxISK campaign ? Great survey but people can’t wait for academic publications which may not be acted on. Donations are urgently needed now!

  4. Mary Power 21/09/2017 at 6:26 pm #

    I didn’t know about this survey, i could write a book on this topic :-/ e.g. the failure of doctors (whether gps, psychiatrists or other medical specialists) to RECOGNISE (and acknowledge) the considerable effect ALL drugs (whether legal or illegal) have on every bodily system. Those prescribed by psychiatrists are particularly insidious as one is generally perceived as an “ongoing lunatic” and one’s physical health is ignored while medical consultants create all sorts of obstacles and excuses for denying, avoiding and downright REFUSING to treat one’s obvious physical health problems. Including refusing appointments, blood tests, surgery. One registrar (his boss refused to see me) actually told me my symptoms are “medically unexplainable.” They would leave you speechless so they would!

  5. Sarah 23/09/2017 at 9:25 pm #

    Thank you for conducting this research. There is so little information available on this issue. Raising awareness will undoubtedly bring forward many more sufferers who don’t even know they are in withdrawal and are stuck in a vicious cycle of prescribed drugs. When you know you’re in withdrawal your life becomes easier. I hope PHE and the BMA will seriously consider your findings.

  6. Jace 05/10/2017 at 3:57 am #

    I think there would probably be a lot of data to collect from US citizens, since the drugging for “undesirable behavior” is at high levels here (though the lack of awareness about the myths that bring people to psych drugs is also extreme, so finding people who are aware enough of the addiction/dependence issue is hard). I would love to have contributed to a survey, had i known of one.

    Psych drugs were the greatest catalyst to wrecking my life and leaving me on disability and in poverty. I am left with what may as well be described as brain damage in terms of startle-response, sleep disorder, tremors, and other things.

    It took 10 months to end Effexor usage, on a custom-designed withdrawal project that i had no medical assistance with except for doctors giving me the “trial size” pills at one point so i could lower my dosage to levels smaller than what is available on prescription. At one point, we were using the “trial size” capsules to measure doses, and assembling smaller dosage capsules. Eventually, the reduction had to stop when the complexity of creating smaller doses was not worth the misery saved by ceasing totally. The withdrawal was debilitating. The withdrawal effects continued from there on, finally becoming otherwise unrecognizable.

    It took another 10 months to end clonazepam usage, this time with assistance from a PsyMD who was an addictions specialist who acknowledges the facts about psych drug dependence. It was extremely difficult to find actual pills (and eventually tablets) to continue reducing dosages. In the end, i was cutting wafers that were as small as 1/8mg doses to create smaller doses. Eventually, it just had to stop when the reduction was insanely complicated. The withdrawal effects were debilitating here as well. A week after i got below 1mg was the first time i was able to actually read a book again (couldn’t read fiction books once i was years into these drugs). 4-5 separate appointments to this doctor were documented in emails from the time.

    Overall, it took 2 solid years or more to escape of 6+ years of these two psychiatric drugs that i was on due to coercion and naive trust in friends, family, and doctors who believe in the myth of the chemical imbalance model for psychiatric disorders.

    I was never warned about any of this by anyone. The doctor who first gave me the SSNRI drug told me it was an inhibitor… which is actually the opposite, because SSRI-class drugs can reduce or kill inhibition itself (which is why these drugs are correlated with suicide, violence, and gun deaths). The “black box” labels warning of suicidality didn’t appear until after i was prescribed and no one pointed this out to me. Investigation of psych drugs on my part, and on the part of the two close friends who helped me through withdrawal, is what started my acquisition of facts around all of these issues. Without the internet, we never would have discovered that psych drugs had made me insane; i might still be on them. I might be dead or in jail from the behavior they caused. Today, I’m fine, barring the situational effects of the damage those drugs did to my life.

    • Vikki 11/10/2017 at 8:24 pm #

      There were U. S, citizens included in this study. They reached out to me for participation and I am in fact one.

  7. M A Love 24/11/2017 at 9:14 am #

    Our big question is where do you go for help with health issues caused by these drugs and other unrelated health issues when the only doctors you have access to in the health system insist that the drugs are not the issue and the symptoms are all psychosomatic?

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