Withdrawing from psychiatric drugs

Support for people withdrawing from psychiatric drugs

Making Waves has been awarded funds through the Institute of Mental Health from it's Managed Innovation Network programme to work with Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust on a project to support people who want to come off psychiatric drugs.

Mind (2005) reported that approximately two thirds of people on psychiatric medication had tried to stop taking it. Half had done so without the knowledge and support of mental health services. Sudden withdrawal can be difficult or even dangerous, can cause rebound or withdrawal effects, and undermine self-efficacy and longer term self-management of mental health. The cost to services of disengagement and the increased need for crisis care and admission has not yet been quantified.

NICE guidelines suggest that services should develop their skills and knowledge in supporting the process of reducing and withdrawing medication. Research, though limited, suggests that gradual withdrawal or tapering can prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms, and that close support can prevent the need for hospitalisation.

Clearly a proportion of individuals currently taking psychiatric medication will make the decision to stop medication. How to support people to do this safely and successfully needs more investigation, a pooling of ideas and resources.

Through the work of this project we hope to provide information through our website as well as a regular support and information session for people who have decided to reduce or come off their medications as well as for staff in services, family and friends or those offering support. 

Planned areas of work are:

  • Planned reduction and withdrawal of psychiatric medication
  • What support for people would be most effective
  • Learning from peoples personal experience and knowledge about withdrawing from drugs
  • How can staff best support people
  • Alternative means of managing distress, unusual experiences or altered states

Torsten Shaw: torsten[at]makingwaves[dot]org

Further information on psychiatric drug withdrawal is listed here on this website