A Welcome from The Withdrawal Project
If you’re reading this, the idea of psychiatric drug withdrawal is likely on your mind. Maybe you’re just generally interested in learning about how people best prepare for psychiatric drug withdrawal because it’s a topic that intrigues you. Or perhaps you or someone you care about or work with is entertaining the possibility of reducing medications, and you want to get better informed about how you might optimally prepare for withdrawal– if so, please note that it’s encouraged but not necessary to read the steps of Prepare in the order in which they appear. Or it might be that for you the thought of reducing or fully coming off medications has become something much more than just a passing interest—maybe it’s evolved into a strong sense of knowing sitting deep within you—one that’s telling you the time has come to make some kind of change to your relationship to psychiatric drugs, and that you owe it to yourself to explore what that might look like.
No matter what your reasons, perspectives, feelings or motivations may be regarding preparing for or embarking upon a psychiatric drug taper, we welcome you.
The Purpose and Guiding Philosophy of this Guide
This two-part Companion Guide provides exercises, reflections and layperson-sourced information about the methods of withdrawal preparation and psychiatric drug tapering that seem to best minimize risk and increase chances of success according to many individuals in the layperson withdrawal community. But its purpose is about far more than simply sharing the nitty-gritty details of how laypeople have tapered. The Guide is also designed to help you strengthen your connections to your body, your emotions, and yourself, and feel more empowered and powerful in the decisions you make. To help you advocate more effectively for yourself in the different relationships in your life. And to help you sink more deeply into the intuitive wisdom that’s in you right now and that’s communicating to you about what it is that’s best aligned with what you truly want for yourself– however much or little you may feel in touch with it, and whatever those desires may be.
TWP believes that this intuitive wisdom—this “inner compass”—is a source that sits within each and every one of us. Through our own experiences taking, reducing, coming off, and healing from psychiatric drugs, and through the reported experiences of many of our friends and fellows in the layperson withdrawal community, we’ve realized in looking back at our past that somewhere along the way we lost touch with this inner compass. For some of us, it was in the weeks, months or years leading up to our introduction to psychiatric drugs. For others of us, it was in the years that came after we started them. And so, because of this, the process of coming off our medications became about more than simply removing them from our bodies—it became about reconnecting with and learning how to be in our bodies again and be better guided by this inner compass. It is a source that orients us not just within our own bodies and minds, but to the environment around us, as well, guiding our actions and decisions into better alignment with what nurtures us rather than shuts us down. TWP’s Companion Guide aims to help you deepen your connection with—or perhaps reconnect or newly connect with— your inner compass, so that you may be better guided by what your intuitive wisdom is communicating to you about not just whether you want to stay on, reduce, or come off psychiatric drugs, but also about your deeper needs, your connection to yourself, and your relationship to the world around you.
You are the only person who should have the right to decide what does and doesn’t go into your body—But choice is only truly possible if it’s fully informed.
Coming off psychiatric drugs—especially when done at a rate faster than the central nervous system can effectively handle—is fundamentally risky and in some cases even life-threatening. The aftermath of rapid psychiatric drug withdrawal has, for many people, looked like weeks, months, or even years of gravely debilitating and disabling mental, emotional, cognitive, and physical issues that make meaningful participation in life essentially not possible until such time as the brain and body have had a chance to heal. And so for this reason it is absolutely vital that you inform yourself as much as possible about psychiatric drug withdrawal so that you can assess for yourself which decisions make the most sense for you given where you are at in your life. This Companion Guide is here as a resource to help you in this process.
Please note that while certain sections of this Companion Guide frequently address “you”, the Guide is not designed to actually tell you what you should do regarding your medications or to make decisions for you. You are the only person who should have the right to decide what you do or do not put in your body and how to take care of yourself. This Guide is simply designed to inform people who take psychiatric drugs, their families and friends, mental health and medical practitioners, and the general public about the rich, valuable anecdotal wisdom that has been emerging from the layperson withdrawal community regarding what we’ve found to be most helpful, harmful, and healing during our own personal experiences navigating psychiatric drug reduction and withdrawal so that you can base your own decisions on as rich and comprehensive a library of information as possible.
Navigating this Guide
The steps of TWP’s Companion Guide to Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal are divided into two equally important parts: Part 1- Prepare, and Part 2- Taper.
Prepare examines the beliefs, day-to-day routines, stressors, physical health, nutrition, support systems, and relationships—including the key relationship between prescriber and client – that can have profoundly risky or potentially beneficial influences on a tapering process. Through exploring these important circumstantial influences, the aim of Prepare is to help people better understand and decide for themselves whether it’s the right time to begin a tapering process, as well as to help people who wish to taper set the stage for a taper journey that can go as smoothly and successfully as possible.
Each step in Prepare comes with several parts:
- A brief discussion of why the step is important
- An introductory orientation to some of the key issues in the step
- Different types of exercises to explore the topic further
- Reflections and wrap-up related to learnings from the step
These can be navigated by using the ‘left’ and ‘right’ arrow buttons underneath the text of a page, or the footer or right sidebar menus.
Taper reports on the psychiatric drug taper approaches and procedures that laypeople in the withdrawal community have been using with success. It begins with Step 10 and walks through curated layperson-sourced information regarding the taper rates, taper schedules, taper methods and taper gear most commonly used in the layperson withdrawal community, and which types of drug formulations, based on FDA-sourced information, each taper method can be used with. Unlike Prepare, the steps in Taper build upon each other in very specific ways, and therefore must be read in the order in which they appear. Additionally, we strongly urge anyone who is seriously considering tapering, and any family member, friend, or health practitioner wanting to help someone taper, to first read through the entire Prepare guide.
Many people find that once they or someone they are supporting has embarked on the taper journey, questions often crop up that can be beneficial to talk through with people who have experienced tapering. We’ve created TWP’s Help Hub to help meet this need. Currently, it houses some of the Companion Guide’s readings, and gradually it will include troubleshooting resources and FAQs that cover common issues experienced during psychiatric drug withdrawal.
In this section
- Introduction: The Vital Role of Good Preparation
- Step 1- How Do I Feel About the Idea of Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs?
- Step 2- Learn About Psychiatric Drug Dependence, Tolerance and Withdrawal
- Step 3- What is My Withdrawal Beacon?
- Step 4- Managing Day-to-Day Responsibilities and Tasks
- Step 5- Building a Support System
- Step 6- Communicating with Prescribers
- Step 7- Listening to the Body and Its Messages
- Step 8- Being With Pain and Darkness
- Step 9- Is the Time Right For Me to Taper?