Psychiatric Drugs and Rehab: down the psycho-pharmacological rabbit hole

The only thing I would change is walking into that psychiatrist's office who prescribed me Klonopin. That ruined my life for eight years....It's a horrible, dangerous drug....I felt like somebody opened up the door and pushed me into hell. — Stevie Nicks after successfully getting off cocaine and then being prescribed Klonopin

By Kelly Patricia O’Meara
December 16, 2013

Under the guise of “treating” another psychiatric “brain disease,” psychiatrists are leading alcohol and substance abusers down the psycho-pharmacological rabbit hole, trading one addiction for another. For too many the promised hope of “managed” medicated recovery quickly becomes a nightmare of yet another addiction, from which escape is only possible through savage physical and psychological withdrawal that rivals that of hardcore street drugs like heroin.

For example, in May of 2011, singer-songwriter, Stevie Nicks, shared her disturbing experience of the psycho-pharmacological nightmare she survived. Having been addicted to cocaine for ten years, Nicks checked herself into rehab at the Betty Ford Clinic. After 14 days, Nicks left the clinic feeling “buoyant and saved and fantastic.” This euphoric rebirth was short lived.

Friends, in fear she would relapse, convinced Nicks to seek out a psychiatrist. In order to “keep her off cocaine,” the psychiatrist prescribed several psychiatric drugs, including benzodiazepinesValium, Xanax and Klonopin. Although initially approved for use in epileptic seizures, Klonopin (and other drugs in its class) have become the psychiatrists go-to pills for recovering addicts.

“The next eight years of my life,” said Nicks, “were destroyed.” In 1993, Nicks had had enough, checked herself into a hospital and began the painful psychiatric drug withdrawal process. “I went in for 47 days,” explained Nicks, “and it made Betty Ford look like a cakewalk. My hair turned gray and my skin molted. I could hardly walk. You can detox off heroin in 12 days. Coke is just a mental detox. But tranquilizers—they are dangerous.”

Nicks said of the “treatment” she received at the hands of her psychiatrist “nearly ruined my life and nearly killed me.” She said, “The only thing I would change is walking into that psychiatrist’s office who prescribed me Klonopin. That ruined my life for eight years.” Describing Klonopin, Nicks said, “It’s a horrible, dangerous drug” and it “felt like somebody opened up the door and pushed me into hell.”

Nicks is just one of tens-of-thousands who have experienced similar pitfalls of addiction to, and withdrawal from, psycho-pharmacological “treatments,” that are sold as “managed” recovery for addicts. In fact, a simple internet search reveals dozens of websites and blogs (one with nearly 80,000 bloggers) dedicated to discussions of the adverse effects of such drugs. Even Youtube offers a variety of personal videos describing the often lengthy and horrifying withdrawal process from benzodiazepines.

drug-abuse-addiction-psychiatric-drugs-250But when it comes to psychiatry, real world experiences are irrelevant. Psychiatry has, like with all other psychiatric disorders, subjectively decided that substance abuse and/or addiction are “mental disorders” that may benefit from long-term “treatment” in the form of addictive mind-altering drugs.

Blurring the lines more is psychiatrist and Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), Nora Volkow, who has decided that addiction is a “brain disease.” Volkow comes to these conclusions after reviewing Pet (Positron Emission Tomography) studies of the brain dopamine system.

Despite deducing that addiction is a “brain disease,” Volkow openly admits in the first paragraph of one study “The addicted human brain viewed in the light of imaging studies: Brain circuits and treatment strategies,” that “though the exact mechanisms underlying addiction are not sufficiently understood, it is likely….”

“It is likely?” Stating that addiction is “likely” due to something is more akin to a scientific “leap” rather than actual scientific proof of disease. Moreover, Volkow’s review of numerous PET studies does not readily provide historical data about test participants who may have taken, are taking, or withdrawing from, psychiatric drugs at the time of the PET scans. In other words, it is unclear whether the changes to the brains of the addicted are solely due to alcohol, illicit drugs, psychiatric drug use or some combination.

More odd though, is that it is Volkow who, in 2001, authored a study showing that Ritalin (methylphenidate) is more potent than cocaine. In fact, Volkow’s research showed that, in pill form, Ritalin blocked 20 percent more dopamine transporters than the 50 percent blocked by cocaine, which is responsible for the addicts craving.

One may wonder how the NIDA’s director can forget this startling research and now suggest that psychiatric mind-altering drugs are a necessary part of an addicts recovery? It’s easy.

By assigning the “disease” label to addiction and concluding that although addiction cannot be cured, it can be “managed,” psychiatrists rely on the pharmaceutical industry for the best course of “treatment,” which according to NIDA, is “a combination of medication and behavioral therapy.” The psychiatric ace in the hole, of course, should the addict relapse, is the underlying subjective mental disorder—not the failure of psychiatric drugs.

psychiatric-drugs-side-effectsThis is psychiatric brilliance at its best. Replace one addictive, destructive substance with another and call it “treatment.” The problem with this extremely warped chain of thought is that the psychiatric drugs recommended as “treatment” often are more destructive than the initial addictive substance.

The fact is all prescription psychiatric drugs alter the naturally occurring chemicals in the brain. In the case of the benzodiazepines, the most widely used psychiatric drugs, like Klonopin, Valium, Ativan and Xanax, the side effects can be devastating, long-lasting and permanent, including cognitive impairment, amnesia, memory loss, dependence and addiction.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has warned that benzodiazepines can cause hostility as well as physical dependence and, remarkably, the makers of Xanax warned on the drug label that, “certain adverse clinical events, some life-threatening, are a direct consequence of physical dependence to alprazolam [Xanax].”

The drug maker further explained, “The ability of patients to completely discontinue therapy with Xanax after long-term therapy has not been reliably determined…withdrawal reactions may occur when dosage reduction occurs for any reason,” and “withdrawal symptoms including seizures have been reported after only brief therapy with Xanax at doses within the recommended range….”

So, let’s recap. The known side effects of these psychiatric “treatments” include dependence and addiction, the DEA warns of physical dependence and even the drug maker admits dependence, but the psycho-wizards believe these medications are appropriate “treatments” for recovering addicts?

The psychiatrists in Wonderland must be mad. Unfortunately, this is no dream for too many addicts who most certainly will be trapped in perpetual psychiatric pill-time.

Kelly Patricia O’Meara is an award-winning former investigative reporter for the Washington Times, Insight Magazine, penning dozens of articles exposing the fraud of psychiatric diagnosis and the dangers of the psychiatric drugs—including her ground-breaking 1999 cover story, Guns & Doses, exposing the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of senseless violence. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed book, Psyched Out: How Psychiatry Sells Mental Illness and Pushes Pills that Kill. Prior to working as an investigative journalist, O’Meara spent sixteen years on Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer to four Members of Congress. She holds a B.S. in Political Science from the University of Maryland.