Medical professionals generally are unable to navigate an antipsychotic withdrawal in an outpatient setting and also tend to lack the expertise
Antipsychotics given during a crisis often end up being a lifetime of being medicated and all of the side effects that go with it. In over 75% of the cases, we have found that people can navigate their lives after having withdrawn from the drugs
Are You Really Your Diagnosis?
For 15 years, Alternative to Meds has been the only licensed center helping people find alternatives to antipsychotic medications. We have published evidence regarding our long-term success. While each case is different, many times we find that, frequently, there were medical conditions like hypoglycemia or food allergies, or that the crisis had multiple factors and may have been diagnosed prematurely or even misdiagnosed.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
Antipsychotics are a variety of medications used primarily to manage psychosis, hallucinations, delusions and disordered thought. Though often effective at the onset, antipsychotics are typically not well tolerated for long-term use and often lead to significant unwanted side effects.1
A person is usually put on an antipsychotic when they have had a psychotic break, or when other medications fail to work. People who are medicated on these drugs are often unable to perform in life as they would like to, find it hard to set goals, and have difficulty perceiving reward in life. These side effects are commonly deemed better than continued visits to the hospital or loss of sleep in the case of extreme insomnia, so the person remains on the drug.
These medications are typically prescribed for individuals who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. In some cases, people take these medications for severe depression or anxiety. Side effects of these medications can be quite severe, especially when these medications are taken long-term.1 However, these adverse effects can be reduced and successfully overcome, and antipsychotic withdrawal symptoms can be conquered with treatment.
Are there other treatments for psychotic symptoms besides antipsychotic drugs?
Though these drugs can be necessary in extreme cases, antipsychotics are not the only solution for psychotic symptoms. To successfully taper people from antipsychotics, we must do some preliminary work aimed towards discovering what the underlying problems may be. First, we run lab tests to identify the potential root causes of the symptoms. In most cases, toxicity is found to be a large contributor. Whether toxicity is a result of the person’s environment or their genetics, we work towards clearing it out. We restrict the use of processed foods, sugar, caffeine, limit the number of cigarettes, and utilize supplements that are known to be beneficial for these individuals and which will work towards stabilizing the neurochemistry. When the individual begins to feel the balance and sedation that the natural therapies and tapering provide, their medication can be reduced—slowly—and adjusted as needed.
What is happening to create psychotic thoughts or behaviors?
The answer is specific for each individual, but usually, there is an excess of dopamine. Dopamine is our “reward” neurochemical, and excess dopamine will make everything stimulating and can cause mania. This can result from neurotoxins stimulating the neurology. Before and during antipsychotic withdrawal, we work at correcting the source of symptoms. Exposure to toxins can be a factor to test for and address, and/or a genetic problem that could affect how that individual clears toxins. For instance, a poor methylator won’t be able to clear heavy metals and will accumulate them in nerve and brain tissue. A poor diet that leads to a deficit in essential nutrients such as vitamin B6, vitamin C, niacin, and zinc, for instance, will have positive results when resolved. Testing for and removal of the accumulation of toxic substances found in preservatives and clearing accumulations of chemicals from processed foods can be beneficial. Testing for low blood sugar, allergies, or other food problems is important as they may cause psychosis in sensitive people and could have very positive results when resolved. One does not have to suffer side effects in return for inefficient relief.
Do antipsychotic drugs cure a person’s neurochemistry issues?
No drug can create new neurotransmitters. It may be helpful to have a better understanding of how antipsychotic drugs affect the neurochemistry. Antipsychotic drugs suppress or block the transmission of dopamine along nerve pathways. Dopamine is an excitatory neurochemical. When dopamine is limited due to the use of an antipsychotic drug, the brain is altered at the synapse. The synapse is where one nerve talks to another. Dopamine excites the impulse of the originating nerve to the next nerve receptors. When the dopamine level is low, the neurology changes, and the body attempts to compensate for this shortfall, by making more dopamine receptors. With more receptors, the small amount of dopamine has the same stimulating effect (compensatory action) even in the presence of an antipsychotic. So the dosage is often increased, which brings on more side effects.
When the person quits taking the drug, as in missing a dose, more dopamine is released and is now super responsive due to an excessive amount of receptors. This can result in hospitalization or extreme antipsychotic withdrawal symptoms and can be disastrous and sometimes quite frightening without professional help. Antipsychotic drugs can temporarily sedate the person, but are not able to cure anything.
How to efficiently get off antipsychotics.
To efficiently taper users from antipsychotics we implement workable protocols by employing certain exact techniques. First, we do lab tests to see what might have caused the original symptoms. Often, we find from lab testing that toxicity is the culprit. Whether toxicity is a result of environment, or genetics, (i.e., slow to metabolize and clear toxins) we then work to gently and non-invasively detoxify the person’s body. We also restrict sugar, processed foods, and caffeine, and use targeted supplements that are beneficial for individuals taking antipsychotic medications. We administer supplements that will support the inhibitory aspects of the person’s neurochemistry.
We offer scientific solutions to mental health problems.
Our program is aimed at stabilizing the person’s neurochemistry with natural substances, and we use detoxification to remove accumulated environmental neurotoxins, targeted nutritional therapy, amino acid therapy, yoga, peer support, counseling, massage, personal training, and holistic therapies that efficiently address the anticipated antipsychotic withdrawal symptoms, providing comfort and calm. Once the person begins to experience sedation and stability as a result of the natural therapies, the medication is then reduced slowly and adjusted if needed.
We have helped thousands of people overcome antipsychotic withdrawal in this manner.
Imagine if withdrawal psychosis could be averted.
Is medical supervision needed for antipsychotic withdrawal?
Antipsychotic withdrawal truly needs to be done with medical supervision. Antipsychotics hyper-sensitize dopamine receptors that can create complications for an at-home withdrawal process. With someone who has taken antipsychotics for severe symptoms for several years, we may decide to lower their dosage to the lowest level possible so as to create stability while optimizing function.
Then, over a 6- to 12-month period, they can continue to reduce their medication at home or in our aftercare program. Our counselors, life coaches, case managers, and peer support model provide the container necessary to truly offer an alternative to a lifetime of psychiatric drugging. If you or someone you love is not benefiting from taking antipsychotics, we invite you to call us and obtain the assistance you are likely waiting for. Call the number listed on this page and someone will be there to speak with you and answer your questions about our antipsychotic withdrawal program.
This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.
Dr. Samuel Lee
Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente. He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.