How Slow is “Slow” When It Comes to Tapering Off Psychiatric Medications?

descending staircase with a red carpet

It’s common to hear about the importance of tapering off a psychiatric drug slowly in order to improve one’s chances that the process will go smoothly and successfully. But what, exactly, does “slow” mean? If you’re not sure of the answer, you are far from alone. There is a general lack of medical research into risk-reducing taper protocols. Doctors are typically taught in medical school how to put people on psychiatric medications, not how to bring them off in a way that minimizes chances of setting off withdrawal problems. Many people—professionals, patients, and family members alike—end up making assumptions about what “slow” medication tapering means: cutting a dose in half for a week and then stopping? Taking a dose every other day for a few weeks and then stopping? Cutting by a quarter each month for four months and then stopping?

Because of the huge void of information on risk-reducing psychiatric drug taper rates, they don’t realize that coming off psychiatric drugs over a few weeks or months is actually far from slow—and that for this reason, it is incredibly risky and possibly even dangerous to one’s physical health and mental, cognitive, and emotional well-being.

So, where does one find a reliable explanation for how slow “slow” medication tapering actually is? Many people believe that the most informed answers lie not in the offices of mental health professionals and medical doctors but rather among ordinary people who’ve undergone psychiatric drug withdrawal themselves and learned from their successes and mistakes along the way.

Through gathering our personal experiences together, thousands of us around the world in this “layperson withdrawal community” have discovered a taper rate “sweet spot” that seems to allow for a more manageable, smooth withdrawal experience. Eager to find out what that sweet spot is? Head over to The Withdrawal Project’s "Psychiatric Drug Taper Rates: A Review and Discussion” for a detailed breakdown.