Unfortunately, most people will fail the first time they try to stop their psychiatric medications.
Millions of people are stuck on psych meds and 99% of doctors have NO IDEA how to help patients stop them safely. If not done properly, trying to stop psych meds can cause very severe withdrawal symptoms.
Here are 6 common mistakes that people make when tapering their psych meds:
- Quitting cold turkey. This is the WORST mistake and can lead to horrific withdrawal and brain and body damage. Please don’t ever do this!
- Using a wet taper. This is when you crush up your pills and put them in water. This can be dangerous because you may change the chemical composition of the drug and get uneven dosages.
- Every other day dosing. I have seen many people become sick from doing this and many doctors actually recommend it! This leads to an uneven blood level and can cause disabling side effects and brain and nervous system damage.
- Starting a new medication to cross taper or for the side effects. It’s never a good idea to start another medication to get off the first one. This can accidentally lead to ending up on more meds than when you started.
- Counting beads. Please do not open up a capsule and count the beads. This can be problematic for multiple reasons!
- Cutting a tablet. While it’s usually okay to cut a tablet in half, that’s as far as I go. Do not quarter it or cut off slivers and weigh them. This can lead to uneven doses which again can cause severe withdrawal and potentially damage.
Here are 3 much safer approaches to tapering psych meds:
- Change the formulation. This is not possible with all drugs but when it is, it can be very helpful. For example, Paxil and Abilify can be switched to a liquid. By switching to a formulation that can be cut in half or used with a dropper, it’s possible to go down even more slowly.
- Tapering strips. These are pre-made tapering dosages of many medications. While these aren’t perfect, they are helpful when you don’t have access to a doctor who can prescribe each dose. You can find these at taperingstrip.com. They do require a one time doctor’s order and can be shipped worldwide.
- Compounding pharmacy. This is the ideal way to customize the tapering process. These pharmacies are available in most countries but do require a doctor’s orders in the United States. Compounding pharmacies can create customized dosages of any medication which means you can customize the taper plan. There are many, but one is Miller’s Pharmacy in New Jersey, which will ship anywhere in the US.
The challenge here is that each one of these options requires at least a one time doctor’s order. If you don’t have access to this, you can always cut all tablets in half that are not extended release. If you’re taking a capsule, you can open it up and count the beads, though again this is not the preferred way. Lastly, if you require a very slow taper, you can purchase a high quality digital scale to cut small amounts off of tablets and weigh them carefully.
If you are looking for expert support with your psych med taper, book a free discovery call with our holistic psychiatrist, Dr. Giordano.