Being Careful With Vitamin and Mineral Supplements in Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal


The normal, necessary daily process of metabolizing and eliminating psychiatric drugs demands energy and nutrient resources from the body. Many psychiatric drugs have also been shown to do demonstrable damage to cells and organs, and during withdrawal a lot of physical healing and regeneration requiring essential nutrients need to take place. For these reasons, some people can feel drawn to taking commercial dietary and nutritional supplements and herbs of different kinds in hopes of replenishing these nutrients or boosting natural healing processes. There are even some commercial products that are now being specifically promoted as helpful for psychiatric drug withdrawal.

supplementsHowever, there have been mixed experiences of the benefits and efficacy of these substances reported by the withdrawal community, and it is understandable why. First, taking supplements can sometimes create an illusion that a poor diet is being appropriately compensated for. Second, generally speaking, there is minimal research on the safety, efficacy, and possible harms of supplements and herbs, and relatively little regulation or quality control of what has become a self-promoting, multi-billion dollar industry. Consequently, we have a generally poor understanding of the true benefits or risks that some of these products could pose to the human body—let alone to a body compromised by psychiatric drug withdrawal. Indeed, some in the withdrawal community have found that even simply taking commercially produced vitamin and mineral supplements can seem to be disruptive rather than helpful to their healing processes. The reasons for this are not fully understood; however, many people in withdrawal are experiencing drug-induced or withdrawal-induced digestive difficulties. Given the increased sensitivities and reactivity that can happen to a person’s body during psychiatric drug withdrawal, it may be that while highly processed supplements can be tolerated by a fully-healthy body, it’s just “too much” for the body during a taper.

Additionally, some supplements and herbs have psychoactive properties which can be risky during psychiatric drug withdrawal – please see TWP's essay, "The Possible Risks of Using Recreational Drugs, Supplements, Herbs and Other Substances with Psychoactive Effects During Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal" for more on that topic.