Trouble stopping your meds? New tool from RxISK can help

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April 16, 2013 | 7 Comments

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  1. When drugs are addictive and doctors don’t realize it, they may have no idea who they’re prescribing to, and why. There was a letter in the British Medical Journal from a GP at a womens prison who had found prisoners craving quetiapine, gabapentin, pregabalin and mirtazapine along with various opiate painkillers — all prescribed by doctors for “legitimate” medical problems the women sometimes did not actually have. (This GP wondered how so many young women could have “intractable back pain.”)

    Quetiapine (Seroquel) dependence is becoming common in US prisons as well, thanks to Astra Zeneca’s aggressive marketing of the stuff to prison healthcare systems. There are stories of prisoners in the LA county jail learning to fake schizophrenia so they can get it (just as more and more college kids are learning to recite the symptoms of ADHD so they can get an Adderall script). So now we have a Seroquel black market in many cities driven by users just released from prison … or the military.

    I know many people given these drugs for pain control or insomnia find the grogginess they can cause really unpleasant. But in prison, anxiety and boredom can both be so intense that being able to sleep 10-12 hours a day seems like a blessing. Then again, once they’re released and the drug supply dries up, many of these folks probably go into withdrawal, feeling distressed and “wired.” They could be buying them on the street more to stave off withdrawal than to get some really desirable high.

    Thanks for opening up this channel for people to tell their stories! Maybe we will hear the rest of this story from someone who has been there.

  2. How I wish the Rxisk Tool SOS had been around when I was taken off an ssri abruptedly. My gp came at me like a battering ram telling me to pull myself together after a week off Seroxat and I was sitting on my bed hyperventilating so badly with zaps going off in my head and I didn’t know what had hit me so hard – the six relentless weeks of an horrendous withdrawal sobbing, crying, unable to breathe, suffocating fatigue, arms and legs twitching unstoppably and a feeling of panic and distress unknown to humankind – or the unspeakable cruelty of a woman who was blind and who took the route of pushing me beyond my own endurance with carping criticism and, in the end, the near fatal demise of her patient.
    Battered like this to the point of death is so psychologically damaging, when the battering does not ever stop and the only option left is to crawl away and ‘left for dead’ with more post traumatic stress than is almost possible to bear and the hubris from the authoritative figure goes on.
    I would not like anyone to have gone through this journey of sheer cruelty because GSK informed the doctor that their drug was safe….
    If I had been a victim of surviving a tsunami or the survivor of a plane crash or bomb, I am quite sure the world of caring would have decided I needed some cbt or compassion.
    To be battered like this to the point of death, with no recourse, is the most frustrating, unfair situation that could ever be envisaged.
    This is why Rxisk SOS is so vital today, more than ever before.

  3. How I wish the Rxisk Tool SOS had been around when I was taken off an ssri abruptedly. My gp came at me like a battering ram telling me to pull myself together after a week off Seroxat and I was sitting on my bed hyperventilating so badly with zaps going off in my head and I didn’t know what had hit me so hard – the six relentless weeks of an horrendous withdrawal sobbing, crying, unable to breathe, suffocating fatigue, arms and legs twitching unstoppably and a feeling of panic and distress unknown to humankind – or the unspeakable cruelty of a woman who was blind and who took the route of pushing me beyond my own endurance with carping criticism and, in the end, the near fatal demise of her patient.
    Battered like this to the point of death is so psychologically damaging, when the battering does not ever stop and the only option left is to crawl away and ‘left for dead’ with more post traumatic stress than is almost possible to bear and the hubris from the authoritative figure goes on.
    I would not like anyone to have gone through this journey of sheer cruelty because GSK informed the doctor that their drug was safe….
    If I had been a victim of surviving a tsunami or the survivor of a plane crash or bomb, I am quite sure the world of caring would have decided I needed some cbt or compassion.
    To be battered like this to the point of death, with no recourse, is the most frustrating, unfair situation that could ever be envisaged.
    This is why Rxisk SOS is so vital today, more than ever before.
    Has my brief description here, become the ‘normal’ way to die?

  4. I totally Agree with you Annie, my doctor did not have a clue either. The suffering I had was relentless and many years later I still suffer. There is no help available as no one believes what is happening and no compassion. Even family members think you are making it up.Its like a groundhog day of hell and no way out.

  5. Annie, I think you hit the nail on the head. These “symptoms on stopping” are the MOST dangerous when you don’t realize that what is happening to you is a drug side effect! (Or when your doctor either doesn’t know or refuses to admit that it is.) It’s especially true with suicidal thoughts and other alarming mental side effects. Knowledge, pure and simple, can be the thing that saves your life.

    Even when the symptoms are in your heart or stomach instead of your mind, knowledge can save you from a world of hurt. Not to mention a whole lot of expensive, invasive tests and extra drugs from doctors who are barking up the wrong tree.

  6. It was illuminating for me to read The Honest Apothecary interview with Professor Healy.
    It was the hospital pharmacist who devised the year-long programme of weaning off Seroxat with small amounts of Paroxetine liquid, taken by syringe.
    I have her reduction programme in front of me now – Month 1 to Month 11. This is 2003.
    Starting at 30 mls (tabs + liquid) reducing to 2.5 mls (liquid only). It more or less worked.

    The gp and the psychiatrist, at this time, were still banging on about my ‘behavioural problems’.

    Was there no end to the total lack of communication between all parties….that syrup reduction technique saved my life, which had all but gone the year before, 2002; all down to the pharmacist….the rest of it is truly appalling ‘behavioural problems’ from my gp and prescriber.
    It takes a bit of work for the patient to work out the mystery and become illuminated.
    Thanks for providing The Honest Apothecary for us to read.

  7. Rxisk needs to become an automatic necessary part of administrative procedure in the medical profession- with GPs, Doctors, consultants etc.
    There is a definite loop hole in the system- without Rxisk who else would be collecting vital data and helping people with all this ?

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