Archive for April, 2012
Monday, April 30th, 2012
Addiction is often described as a spiritual sickness, the same could be said for aggression and depression. What all these have in common is isolation and being cutoff. Spirit implies a connection between things or persons or another. In all these examples there is no connection between the individual and the outside world. The thought process is entirely within their head with no relationship to another.
It goes further than this, the spiritually sick person is not connected with themselves. Often they live in thought with no connection to their feelings. They are cutoff from their own essence and end up feeling ashamed of themselves and resentful of everything and body else.
We all have a life force if it is absent there is just a void. The universe is designed for connection, the cutting of that connection can only lead one way to further disconnection. At the same time part of the self rebels against that, the isolated are needy looking for connection, and get into co-dependent relationships, the angry person craves agreement which if it doesn’t come he attacks and alienates the other, leading to more isolation, the food addict consumed by a sense of hopelessness feeds themselves for comfort, the alcoholic is lost and drinks to forget, the crack addict desperate for intimacy can only do it when getting high, the depressed person craves self esteem and approval because they don’t see anything of value in themselves.
Connecting with that spirit is essential for recovery, it is the disconnect that caused the sickness in the first place. Whatever it looks like: a warm touch, a smile, an acknowledgement of a sensation or feelings, a blunt comment followed a moment of clarity all equal connection and a route to wellness and turning away from sickness.
Nigel Turner, B.S. (Econ), H.S.C., Member OACCPP
Nigel works with men who have addiction, anger, emotional and relationship issues.
His style is compassionate and direct. With a background in addictions, he pursued an interest in men with addictions and relationship problems. He was trained in the Partner Abuse Response (PAR) Program and works extensively with the courts with mandated clients. Nigel understands the male psyche and what a man needs to hear to move forward with solutions to his own problems. He is conscious of the deep reluctance men have in dealing with these issues and the importance of a man discovering for himself what he needs to do. Nigel’s time limited work with the court mandated clients has given him clarity and efficiency in identifying clients’ issues, and in helping them not only find solutions to their problems but to begin to enact necessary changes. The focus is on brief rather than long term therapy.
Monday, April 30th, 2012
By Susan Gamble, Brantford Expositor
Monday, April 30, 2012 2:56:57 EDT PM
It looks so easy in all the movies, TV shows and video games.
Gone in 60 Seconds, Grand Theft Auto and Need for Speed have indoctrinated kids, especially young men, with the impression that stealing, speeding and crashing cars is very cool.
And as a city that was dubbed the Stolen Car Capital of Canada in 2010, Brantford has a nasty reputation as the playground for these car thieves.
While improvements are being made notably with a joint policing effort called Team Shutdown, two area teens have died as a result of car chases in the past five years and there have been numerous injuries, not to mention millions of dollars in damages to cars and costs in insurance.
Some say it’s non-natives who are stealing cars from outside the county and dumping them on Six Nations for natives to take the blame.
Others believe that, at the heart of this, is a gang of outside influences who are directing native kids to steal cars. The kids are young and have a grid of back roads on the reserve where cars can be hidden and chopped, and where police can be evaded.
But a series of interviews by The Expositor indicates the recent problems didn’t start with Mafia connections or Asian gangs.
The problem has been a little pain pill called Oxycontin.
“I got in a bad car accident where I was ejected out of the vehicle and broke all my ribs. I broke my arm and my shoulder. I started taking Tylenol 3 and Percoset prescribed by the doctor but pretty soon it wasn’t working.”
That’s how one young man, “Robert” became a ‘chinger’ on Six Nations.
Chinging is the local slang for the act of stealing cars, derived from the word ‘cha-ching!’, meaning easy money.
Robert’s dependence on narcotics for his pain lead him to the well-known, but highly addictive “hillbilly heroin” — Oxycontin.
“It’s an expensive habit and stealing vehicles is easy money. People getting Oxy can turn around and sell it for $50, $60 or $100 on the reserve and that’s a good chunk of change.”
Eventually, Robert was spending $1,000 each day on his Oxy habit and there are no jobs that can support that kind of expenditure.
He quickly got involved in chinging, learning the ropes from older friends and, eventually, setting up his own system of buyers.
“There were times when I didn’t sleep for three or four days. I would be out stealing every day, all day. I’d take at least five vehicles in a night. Sometimes more.”
He was shot at and chased by police more times than he can count. When he looks back at his escapades now, it’s terrifying.
“It’s easy money but in the long run, you get caught, addicted to Oxy and not caring about your family. You end up sitting in jail and are told when you can go to bed and when to get up.”
Robert is on probation now, trying hard to stay clean and away from Six Nations.
“I’m trying to take care of me right now.”
Robert’s lawyer, Sarah Dover, has become somewhat of an expert on chingers.
Dover says she represents a “significant number” of Six Nations residents who have been arrested after dangerous car chases or repeatedly stealing cars.
“I’ve had maybe one or two clients who are not addicted to Oxycontin and all the others are.”
Dover knows a lot about Oxy.
She’s researched it and has daily anecdotal evidence of what it does to a user. Oftentimes, Dover is the first one to talk to a chinger about his Oxy habit and where it’s heading.
“There’s been greater access to Oxy on the reserve than alcohol and you become addicted in a very short time — within a week of your first use. The symptoms of withdrawal are excruciating. It’s like having barbed wire pulled through your veins.”
And here’s the problem: the No. 1 course of treatment for Oxy addiction is methadone. There’s no methadone program available on Six Nations and no detox there. To get their daily methadone dose Dover’s clients have to get to Brantford. But most are on probation for driving crimes and aren’t allowed to drive. Unless a supportive family member or friend volunteers to drive them to Brantford every single day, a lot of chingers are faced with a choice of stealing a car or dropping methadone and going back to Oxy.
And there’s another problem: if you’re already on a methadone program when you go to jail, they make sure that you continue treatment. But if you’re not on the program, you can’t get on it in jail. Instead you face about a week of acute withdrawal and then a chemically induced depression for 12 to 18 months.
“In jail, (prisoners) have no education around their addiction, no access to counselling and when they come out of jail they’re no further ahead in accessing services for addictions. It’s a huge set-up for them to fail.”
The results are heavily tinged with irony: chingers sometimes steal cars to get to their methadone appointments or even take a car at the courthouse to get home after being released from jail; one of Dover’s addicted clients had her newborn taken from her at the hospital by Children’s Aid but walked out of the facility with an Oxy prescription in her hand; native boys are facing dozens of driving charges before they even get their licences.
And they all talk about the big bucks they generate from the chinging business. But Dover says it’s a sham.
“I ask them ‘Where’s the money?’ Where are the guys with the massive houses and gorgeous cars? They don’t exist because the money’s going into opiates.
“If people are really serious about ending car chases, do something about Oxy.”
That was Dover’s statement a few months ago when Oxy use was rampant on Six Nations.
Now, with the introduction of OxyNEO, a “tamper-proof” drug that can’t be crushed, ground or liquified for snorting or injecting she says the situation is in a muted chaos.
Prices for Oxy have gone up and new suppliers are being sought outside of Ontario; addictions are switching drugs, some have overdosed; the drug world is hard at work trying to tamper with the new tamper-proof drug; and yes, some hard cases are turning to methadone as they try to drop their old habit.
MPP Dave Levac is pushing to get a new residential rehab-detox centre in the city and others are suggesting the methadone clinic at St. Andrew’s Church be moved to wherever that new location is.
Wherever it is, it won’t be on the reserve — so the problem for addicts will remain.
“We need to help those getting treatment to succeed,” said Levac.
“We want to stop people from reoffending and remove the obstacles, so that may (lead to) a transportation service or taxi chits – something so we can tackle this in a whole community way.”
Levac is one of those who believes Six Nations has been unfairly targeted because of the car theft industry.
“The idea it’s all natives doing this is a long-standing mythology. If we actually broke down the number of first nations people involved we’d see it’s not just them. It’s just a favourite dumping ground.”
Six Nations Chief Coun. Bill Montour agrees, saying it’s “outside influences” controlling many of the young people on the reserve.
“We’re getting more blacks, Asians and motorcycle gangs operating here and we’ve had four incidents involving Jamaican enforcers.”
The chief said he’s been a victim himself: his own car was stolen by thieves who used it to go to Mississauga in order to steal there.
“My son is a cop and they’re all over this.”
But lawyer Dover says it’s not gangs controlling the kids – it’s drugs.
Dover’s typical client has a Grade 8 education, is 20-something years old and has severe addiction issues.
“They come from pain. When they’re released the only thing they’re good at is stealing cars.”
Dover speaks often and passionately in court about the Oxy-car theft problem.
She’s hugely frustrated by what she considers a broken system.
“Jail is not effective in deterring my clients. I’ve had clients shot by police before being jailed and when they’re released, because the underlying dynamic hasn’t been addressed, they return to the behaviour despite a desire to have a normal life.”
Some have suggested to Dover that if her clients truly wanted to get better they’d be willing to go far afield to find help.
“The folks from Six Nations are deeply connected to their community, land and way of life. To say if you want to be sober, go to another community, you might as well say ‘be shot into space’.”
Native Horizons is the drug rehab program on Six Nations. Dover says that every year the agency puts in a proposal for a more comprehensive addictions service and every year they are denied.
It takes one to three months to get into the current rehab program and you have to qualify by being out of jail and sober for 30 days.
“If some of my clients could stay out of jail and sober for 30 days they wouldn’t need rehab,” says Dover.
There are two Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on the reserve, she adds, and people can go to counselling meetings at Native Horizons, but there are no regular Narcotic Anonymous meetings there.
“My clients are white-knuckling through withdrawal and they get out of jail and relapse.
Which, of course, leads to the theft of more cars, or worse, the rising suicide problem on this and other reserves.
What’s needed, says Dover, is a crisis approach to the Oxy problem that targets the underlying issues: too much Oxy availability; not enough rehab and methadone help; more counselling for family problems, including the residual angst of the residential schools issue.
“Robert” is glad to be done with his $1000-a-day Oxy habit.
“Looking back, I’m scared about what I was doing. I’ve been shot at and stuff. I was constantly looking over my shoulder for police and owners. Now a weight’s been lifted.”
Monday, April 30th, 2012
Writing with complete transparency, Rubie has courageously walked through healing and by turns offers readers to do the same by reflecting through his poetry.
ONTARIO, Canada (PRWEB) April 26, 2012
On his dedication page, poet Gary Rubie writes, “to every alcoholic and addict that suffered, recovered and still suffers, I hope for serenity, courage and wisdom.” The same serenity, courage and wisdom can be found in the interstices of Out On A Cliff, an intricately-weaved anthology of lyrical prose which takes readers into an intense journey into Rubie’s mind, providing a glimpse into his soul’s darkest hole.
Rubie’s journey to writing poetry began just over seven years ago as a method of journaling. With no formal training he found solace in rhyme. It was a therapeutic way of putting his feelings on paper about the struggles and challenges he faced during his policing career and in dealing with severe job related trauma (P.T.S.D.) and his addictions.
Each metrical piece in Out On A Cliff are based on Rubie’s real life experiences –. From growing up, suffering abuse, to his 25-year career as a city cop, surviving deep depression, suicidal thoughts and attempts at his own life and then managing crippling job related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This all lead him through his own Dante’s Inferno, the darkest hole imaginable of addictions, his own incarceration and his eventual victorious recovery. Rubie asked his father two years ago if he would consider drawing images to go with each poem. Confident in his son’s adroitness in poetry, Henk Rubie agreed to do a collaboration between father and son.
Rubie further wrote, “If one poem touches one person and stops that one person from ending their life, or gives one person hope, or keeps one person sober for one day, then all the hard work, honesty, and hours of painful soul-searching that went into creating this book was worth it.”
As Cornwall Chief of Police Daniel C. Parkinson puts it, Rubie has taken the lid off the Pandora’s Box of policing and allows readers to peek into its harrowing side. Writing with complete transparency, Rubie has courageously walked through self-healing and by turns offers readers to do the same by reflecting through this candid volume.
For more information on this book, interested parties may log on to http://www.Xlibris.com.
About the Author
Gary Rubie was born in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada in 1962. He joined the Peel Regional Police Department in 1984 where he served for 25 years on a variety of front line and plain cloths units. He enjoyed many successes in his career being recognized 64 times with letters of appreciation from the public, police commendations and awards. He continued his studies taking 33 job related courses over his career. In 2008 in his 25th year of policing he was diagnosed with job related career ending Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and was placed on permanent disability.
Henk Rubie was born in the Netherlands in 1931 where he was educated and joined the air force for 2 years. He worked as a toolmaker until he married his wife of 53 years Antonia Rubie. Together they immigrated to Kitchener, Ontario, Canada in 1959 where they raised three children. Henk worked as a skilled machinist for years in the RMS Machinery Division, at the Uniroyal tire manufacturing facility in Kitchener. He retired in 1991. A hobby boat builder and artist he further honed his artistic skills and began oil painting, creating intarsia wood crafts and continued building scaled model sail boats.
Out On A Cliff* by Gary Rubie and Henk Rubie
Publication Date: April 17, 2012
Trade Paperback; $19.99; 314 pages; 978-1-4691-8114-1
Trade Hardback; $29.99; 314 pages; 978-1-4691-8115-8
eBook; $3.99; 978-1-4691-8116-5
To request a complimentary paperback review copy, contact the publisher at (888) 795-4274 x. 7879. To purchase copies of the book for resale, please fax Xlibris at (610) 915-0294 or call (888) 795-4274 x. 7879.
For more information, contact Xlibris at (888) 795-4274 or on the web at http://www.Xlibris.com.
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
In 2008 as NY study said that the drug companies spent twice as much money on advertising than research and states that “The industry spent approximately US$61,000 in promotion per physician during 2004″ based on sales in 2004)http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080105140107.htm
Not sure what the numbers are for 2011.. it does state that Pharma spends 24 times as much vs Canada spending…..
” In addition, it takes about 7 to 10 years and only 3 out of every 20 approved drugs bring in sufficient revenue to cover their developmental costs, and only 1 out of every 3 approved drugs generates enough money to cover the development costs of previous failures. This means that for a drug company to survive, it needs to discover a blockbuster (billion-dollar drug) every few years.” and “the pharmaceutical industry is — and has been for years — the most profitable of all businesses in the U.S. In the annual Fortune 500 survey, the pharmaceutical industry topped the list of the most profitable industries, with a return of 17% on revenue” (
This same scrutiny came with the alcohol industry…http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110531180936.htm andhttp://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091109194743.htm
I believe that this type of marketing is a huge challenge… as people see a quick fix to their symptoms and do not understand that health and wellness starts at the core…..
Education and awareness is the key.
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Evidence shows that anti-depressants likely do more harm than good, researchers find
April 24, 2012 in Psychology & Psychiatry
Commonly prescribed anti-depressants appear to be doing patients more harm than good, say researchers who have published a paper examining the impact of the medications on the entire body.
“We need to be much more cautious about the widespread use of these drugs,” says Paul Andrews, an evolutionary biologist at McMaster University and lead author of the article, published today in the online journal Frontiers in Psychology. “It’s important because millions of people are prescribed anti-depressants each year, and the conventional wisdom about these drugs is that they’re safe and effective.” Andrews and his colleagues examined previous patient studies into the effects of anti-depressants and determined that the benefits of most anti-depressants, even taken at their best, compare poorly to the risks, which include premature death in elderly patients. Anti-depressants are designed to relieve the symptoms of depression by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, where it regulates mood. The vast majority of serotonin that the body produces, though, is used for other purposes, including digestion, forming blood clots at wound sites, reproduction and development.What the researchers found is that anti-depressants have negative health effects on all processes normally regulated by serotonin.
The findings include these elevated risks:
- developmental problems in infants
- problems with sexual stimulation and function and sperm development in adults
- digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, indigestion and bloating
- abnormal bleeding and stroke in the elderly
The authors reviewed three recent studies showing that elderly anti-depressant users are more likely to die than non-users, even after taking other important variables into account. The higher death rates indicate that the overall effect of these drugs on the body is more harmful than beneficial.
“Serotonin is an ancient chemical. It’s intimately regulating many different processes, and when you interfere with these things you can expect, from an evolutionary perspective, that it’s going to cause some harm,” Andrews says.
Millions of people are prescribed anti-depressants every year, and while the conclusions may seem surprising, Andrews says much of the evidence has long been apparent and available.
“The thing that’s been missing in the debates about anti-depressants is an overall assessment of all these negative effects relative to their potential beneficial effects,” he says. “Most of this evidence has been out there for years and nobody has been looking at this basic issue.”
In previous research, Andrews and his colleagues had questioned the effectiveness of anti-depressants even for their prescribed function, finding that patients were more likely to suffer relapse after going off their medications as their brains worked to re-establish equilibrium.
With even the intended function of anti-depressants in question, Andrews says it is important to look critically at their continuing use.
“It could change the way we think about such major pharmaceutical drugs,” he says. “You’ve got a minimal benefit, a laundry list of negative effects – some small, some rare and some not so rare. The issue is: does the list of negative effects outweigh the minimal benefit?”
More information: The journal article: http://www.frontie … 2.00117/full
Provided by McMaster University (news : web)
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Paul Andrews, assistant professor of psychology, neuroscience & behaviour, is the lead author of a new journal article that describes why anti-depressant medication appears to do more harm than good
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Michael F. Shaughnessy
Senior Columnist EducationNews.org
Eastern New Mexico University
Dr. Moncrieff is the author of The Myth of the Chemical Cure:A Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment
In this interview she responds to questions about this so – called “chemical imbalance” and the treatment of depression.
1) Dr. Moncrieff, first of all, what led you to write this about about “the myth of the chemical cure”?
What is written in textbooks about psychiatric drugs and how they work never seemed to match up to reality to me. So I started to look carefully at the research on drugs and gradually I came to realise that there was no evidence that they were acting specifically- that they were reversing the basis of a disease- as it was claimed. At the same time I was interested in how drugs came to be so highly regarded in psychiatry- how they came to be the dominant form of treatment. I realised that it was because they were believed to be specific that they were seen as so important, because the idea that they are specific underpins the idea that psychiatry is a medical activity, concerned with reversing medical diseases.
So I began to try and trace how the idea- the myth as I believed it - that they are specific treatments was constructed.
2) I would think that when people have to deal with the death of a mother/father, brother/sister, or even a pet, I think that it is natural and normal to feel depressed. When did we start giving anti-depressant medication for the normal transitions of life that we all have to endure?
The modern concept of depression, as a common condition in need of medical treatment, was invented and promoted in order to market the earliest antidepressants in the 1960s. However, it was when the market for benzodiazepines collapsed in the late 1990s that the pharmaceutical industry turned to depression to create a mass market.
It was during the 1990s that the idea that depression affects up to 1 in 4 of the population and other such figures were publicised and the motive was to create a market for the new and profitable antidepressants known as SSRIs.
3) How exactly do psychiatrists find out if there is a real chemical imbalance in the brain? Or are they just experimenting with patients?
Psychiatrists have no way of telling that someone has a chemical imbalance. The idea that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance is simply a hypothesis. There is no consistent evidence that there is any biochemical abnormality in people diagnosed as depressed. The idea has been promoted by drug companies and professional organisations, but the evidence base for it is almost non existent. Most experts say that the fact that people improve when you give them antidepressants is the strongest evidence that there is a chemical imbalance. But there are other ways of explaining this- antidepressants are psychoactive drugs, that may suppress emotional feelings, or just sedate people.
Anyway, as recent research shows, people improve barely more with antidepressant than they do with a placebo.
4) The number of pills for a wide variety of so- called ” mental illnesses ” seems to have skyrocketed. Someone is making a lot of money pushing these pills. Is it all about money?
Partly, but it is also about professional status. Psychiatrists push pills because it bolsters their position as doctors. Also governments have supported medical interventions like drugs because they look like simple solutions to otherwise complex and intractable problems. Also we live at a time when big business is very powerful, and governments are unwilling to reign it in.
5) I know there are some violent, aggressive, assaultive patients who either have to be physically restrained, or put in a special room, or a straight jacket. In such instances, are we simply sedating the patient or
are we really treating them?
I think everyone would admit that at times like these we are simply sedating them, or using chemical restraint. What is more open to dispute is what we are doing to people whose behaviour is chronically antisocial, disturbing and maybe irrational. People like this are usually diagnosed as having chronic schizophrenia, or some other mental disorder. In this case, the drug treatment they are inevitably given on a long-term basis is dressed up as a treatment, but is often aimed at controlling their behaviour.
6) Are there germs, bacteria, viruses, and things that can be seen under a microscope that cause “mental illness”?
No- there are no proven physical causes of any mental illnesses.
7) We all have to deal with anxiety- we have to work, take tests, deal with disgruntled people- why do some people need anti-anxiety pills for the problems that we all have to face—and do these folks have some type of chemical imbalance?
Everyone is different and some people find stress harder to deal with than others. This is partly due to upbringing and environment, but some of it is probably due to the variation in our biological makeup. However, I don’t think it is something you can pinpoint, like a chemical imbalance.
It’s just that we are all different, biologically as well as psychologically. You can’t “correct” these differences (assuming you could identify them, which I don’t think you will ever be able to do) without eradicating individuality itself.
Is there really such a disease as attention deficit disorder or is this just a bunch of symptoms that have been lumped together in some fashion?
Its not my specialist area, but child psychiatrists I know say that they can always find a better explanation for a child’s behaviour than calling it ADHD. ADHD is a label that locates the problem in the individual child, whereas I suspect the problem really often lies in the family and the wider environment. The only reason for giving someone the label of ADHD, of course, is in order to justify giving the child stimulants. There is a big debate about whether these are useful- and if so whether they are worthwhile. They can make a child pay attention at first, but whether this is really beneficial is unclear. Also their effects probably wear off (like most drugs taken for long periods)- and the latest 3 year follow up of the biggest randomized trial of stimulants shows no benefits over non drug treatment at three years.
9) I have read some crazy stuff on the Internet about statins being given to 8 year old children. Is there any sane, reasonable, rational, realistic reason to give an 8 year old child a statin?
I don’t know about the wisdom of giving children statins, but childhood obesity (not a nice word) is certainly an indication that there is something very wrong with our society. It is also caused of course by drugs like the new antipsychotics, which are being more commonly prescribed to children. So some childhood obesity is being caused by drugs in the first place.
10) Here in the United States, we once had a commercial that said ” relief is just a swallow away”. Have the pharmaceuticals taken this mass drugging way too far?
Everyone is looking for a magic bullet for everything nowadays. The pharmaceutical industry have certainly helped create this situation, but again I think it is the broader political climate that has encouraged this to happen. Popping pills to solve your problems is a perfect consumerist activity, and it helps keep people so worried that they don’t have time to challenge the system. Accepting life’s ups and downs is not a good recipe
for keeping people working their guts out to buy more stuff.
11) I often see individuals who seem to have no coping skills, low frustration tolerance and a lack of thinking skills. Should not these people get training and counseling, rather than some pill for their alleged ” chemical disorder”?
Yes, these would be better, but often there is no individual solution. We have to ask why some people get this way, and what changes we can make to society to prevent it happening and to help them when it does.
12) Are there any psychiatric diagnosis which in your mind, are true “chemical imbalances” for example chronic schizophrenia?
No. Organic conditions like dementia and learning disability have a physical basis (but not a simple chemical imbalance). For mental illnesses like schizophrenia, manic depression and others, no physical cause has ever been proven. It is often said that we have evidence that they are genetic- but this evidence is much weaker than presented (Jay Joseph gives a good deconstruction of this). It is said that people with schizophrenia have different shaped brains- but again the evidence is weak and inconsistent and drug induced effects have not been ruled out.
13) Do you have a web site where we can get more information?
The Critical Psychiatry Network has a website where there are many interesting papers posted and other information. The address is www.criticalpsychiatry.co.uk
14) What question have I neglected to ask?
Whatever mental illnesses consist of, and we do not know, but have no good evidence at present to think they are caused by specific brain diseases like real neurological conditions, when we treat them with drugs we are merely drugging people. This may suppress the symptoms, which may be helpful for a while, but obviously there are adverse consequences. If you are drugged you are usually slower and less emotionally sensitive than if you are not under the influence of drugs. Psychiatrists need to be more honest about this- but so do politicians and society as a whole. We are pretending to treat or cure people with mental illness because that makes us feel alright about controlling them. Sometimes we need to control them-
but we should at least be honest about what we are doing. Pharmaceutical companies are cashing in on our dishonesty.
Published August 7, 2008
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
The psychiatric profession is ignoring evidence that treatment with antipsychotics can be harmful, according to a new book
- guardian.co.uk, Sunday 2 March 2008 12.00 GMT
- Article history
Christian was slouched in a chair in Bradford psychiatric unit. He was, seemingly, only half-conscious, half alive. He could hardly speak, let alone raise his head. Christian had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Two days before, in a haze of paranoia, he had punched a colleague of mine at a day centre. So Christian was sectioned and medicated, heavily, with neuroleptic drugs.
Most people, on seeing Christian, would have described him as being so whacked out he was a dribbling wreck. The drug-advisory body, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) would say the neuroleptic treatment had successfully “calmed” Christian, in preparation for treating the “underlying psychiatric condition”.
Neuroleptics - such as Clozapine, Olanzapine, Risperidone and Seroquel - are the “primary treatment” for psychosis, particularly schizophrenia. Indeed, 98%-100% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia inside our psychiatric units - and 90% living in the community - are on neuroleptics, also called antipsychotics. Nice’s guidelines for the treatment of schizophrenia say: “There is well established evidence for the efficacy of antipsychotic drugs.”
A similar efficacy used to be claimed for Prozac and other SSRIs in the treatment of depression. But a study published last Tuesday could well have pulled the plug on Prozac.
And now a London NHS psychiatrist, Joanna Moncrieff, has similarly endeavoured to expose the “myth” of antipsychotics. Whereas Moncrieff has already highlighted antidepressant non-effectiveness, it is her research on antipsychotics that is more shocking. The evidence shows, she says, that antipsychotics not only do not work long-term they also cause brain damage - a fact which is being “fatally” overlooked. Plus, because of a cocktail of vicious side-effects, antipsychotics almost triple a person’s risk of dying prematurely.
Moncrieff particularly strikes out at her own profession, psychiatry, claiming it is ignoring the negative evidence for antipsychotics. In her book, The Myth of The Chemical Cure, Moncrieff argues, effectively, that psychiatry is guilty of gross scientific misconduct.
Having examined decades of clinical trials, Moncrieff’s first point is that once variables such as placebo and drug withdrawal effects are accounted for, there is no concrete evidence for antipsychotic long-term effectiveness. This is a radically different interpretation of the meta-analyses and trials Nice used to arrive at its opposite conclusion. But Moncrieff is confident her scrutiny of the evidence is valid.
At the heart of years of dissent against psychiatry through the ages has been its use of drugs, particularly antipsychotics, to treat distress. Do such drugs actually target any “psychiatric condition”? Or are they chemical control - a socially-useful reduction of the paranoid, deluded, distressed, bizarre and odd into semi-vegetative zombies?
Historically, whatever dissenters thought has been ignored. So, it appears, have new studies which indicate that antipsychotics do not work long-term. For example, a US study last year in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease reported that people diagnosed with schizophrenia and not taking antipsychotics are more likely to recover than those on the drugs. The study was on 145 patients, and researchers reported that, after 15 years, 65% of patients on antipsychotics were psychotic, whereas only 28% of those not on medication were psychotic. A staggering finding, surely? So where were the mainstream media yelps of “breakthrough in schizophrenia treatment”. Not a squeak.
Moncrieff’s second point is that the psychiatric establishment, underpinned by the pharmaceutical industry, has glossed over studies showing that antipsychotics cause extensive damage - the most startling being permanent brain atrophy (brain damage) or tardive dyskinesia. As in Parkinson’s Disease, patients suffer involuntary, repetitive movements, memory loss and behaviour changes. Antipsychotics cause atrophy within a year, Moncrieff says. She accuses her colleagues of risking creating an “epidemic of iatrogenic brain damage”.
Moncrieff is a hard-nosed scientist, so she is respectfully reserved. But gross scientific misconduct is her accusation. “It is as if the psychiatric community can not bear to acknowledge its own published findings,” she writes.
How worrying it is, then that the Healthcare Commission should report last year that almost 40% of people with psychosis are on levels of antipsychotics exceeding recommended limits. Such levels cause heart attacks. Indeed, the National Patient Safety Agency claims heart failure from antipsychotics is a likely cause for some of the 40 average annual “unexplained” deaths of patients on British mental health wards. Other effects of antipsychotics include massive weight gain (metabolic impairment) and increased risk of diabetes.
Two years ago, The British Journal of Psychiatry - Britain’s most respected psychiatry journal - published a study reporting that people on antipsychotics were 2.5 times more likely to die prematurely. The researchers warned there was an “urgent need” to investigate whether this was due to antipsychotics. But so ingrained is the medication culture in mental health that many psychiatrists feel that not medicating early with antipsychotics amounts to negligence, Moncrieff notes.
Moncrieff does acknowledge there is evidence for the short-term effectiveness of antipsychotics. But again Moncrieff asks psychiatry to be honest. Moncrieff points out that when antipsychotics, such as chlorpromazine, were first used in the 1950s they were “major tranquillisers”. Why? Because that’s an accurate description of their effect, particularly short term. They sedate, or tranquillise, the emotions, so reducing the anxiety of paranoia and delusions. Any person on antipsychotics is likely to verify this (go to askapatient.com). Now, however, these drugs are referred to as “antipsychotics”. For Moncrieff, this is a wheeze because there’s no evidence that antipsychotics act directly on the “symptoms” - paranoia, delusions, hallucinations - of those diagnosed with psychosis. There’s nothing antipsychotic about antipsychotics.
So what are the alternatives? Moncrieff - like her fellow psychiatrists in a group called the Critical Psychiatry Network - asks services to look seriously at non-drug approaches, such as the Soteria Network in America. She believes psychiatrists such as herself should no longer have unparalleled powers to forcibly detain and treat patients. Instead, they should be “pharmaceutical advisers” engaging in “democratic drug treatment” with patients.
Psychiatrists should be involved in “shared decision-making” with patients, and would have to go to civil courts to argue their case for compulsory treatment. “Psychiatry would be a more modest enterprise,” writes Moncrieff, “no longer claiming to be able to alter the underlying course of psychological disturbance, but thereby avoiding some of the damage associated with the untrammelled use of imaginary chemical cures.”
The mental health establishment should learn from the Prozac story and pay attention. It’s about time
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Some anti-depressant drugs are associated with an increased chance of developing cataracts, according to a new statistical study by researchers at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and McGill University.
The study, based on a database of more than 200,000 Quebec residents aged 65 and older, showed statistical relationships between a diagnosis of cataracts or cataract surgery and the class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), as well as between cataracts and specific drugs within that class.
Published online today in the journal Ophthalmology, the study does not prove causation but only reveals an association between the use of SSRIs and the development of cataracts. The study could not account for the possibility of smoking - which is a risk factor for cataracts - and additional population-based studies are needed to confirm these findings, the researchers say.
This study of statistical relationships is the first to establish a link between this class of drugs and cataracts in humans. Previous studies in animal models had demonstrated that SSRIs could increase the likelihood of developing the condition.
“When you look at the trade-offs of these drugs, the benefits of treating depression - which can be life-threatening - still outweigh the risk of
developing cataracts, which are treatable and relatively benign,” says Dr. Mahyar Etminan, lead author of the article, a scientist and clinical pharmacist at the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology at Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and an assistant professor in the Dept. of Medicine at UBC.
Researchers found patients taking SSRIs were overall 15 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with cataracts or to have cataract surgery.
The degree of risk among specific and different types of SSRIs varied considerably. Taking fluvoxamine (Luvox) led to a 51 per cent higher chance of having cataract surgery, and venlafaxine (Effexor) carried a 34 per cent higher risk. No connection could be made between fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), and sertraline (Zoloft) and having cataract surgery.
Co-author Dr. Frederick S. Mikelberg, professor and head of the Dept. of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at UBC and head of the Dept. of Ophthalmology at Vancouver General Hospital, notes that the average time to develop cataracts while taking SSRIs was almost two years.
“While these results are surprising, and might inform the choices of psychiatrists when prescribing SSRIs for their patients, they should not be cause for alarm among people taking these medications,” Mikelberg says.
Provided by University of British Columbia (news : web)
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Patients who use anti-depressants are much more likely to suffer relapses of major depression than those who use no medication at all, concludes a McMaster researcher.
In a paper that is likely to ignite new controversy in the hotly debated field of depression and medication, evolutionary psychologist Paul Andrews concludes that patients who have used anti-depressant medications can be nearly twice as susceptible to future episodes of major depression.
Andrews, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, is the lead author of a new paper in the journal Frontiers of Psychology.
The meta-analysis suggests that people who have not been taking any medication are at a 25 per cent risk of relapse, compared to 42 per cent or higher for those who have taken and gone off an anti-depressant.
Andrews and his colleagues studied dozens of previously published studies to compare outcomes for patients who used anti-depressants compared to those who used placebos.
They analyzed research on subjects who started on medications and were switched to placebos, subjects who were administered placebos throughout their treatment, and subjects who continued to take medication throughout their course of treatment.
Andrews says anti-depressants interfere with the brain’s natural self-regulation of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, and that the brain can overcorrect once medication is suspended, triggering new depression.
Though there are several forms of anti-depressants, all of them disturb the brain’s natural regulatory mechanisms, which he compares to putting a weight on a spring. The brain, like the spring, pushes back against the weight. Going off antidepressant drugs is like removing the weight from the spring, leaving the person at increased risk of depression when the brain, like the compressed spring, shoots out before retracting to its resting state.
“We found that the more these drugs affect serotonin and other neurotransmitters in your brain — and that’s what they’re supposed to do — the greater your risk of relapse once you stop taking them,” Andrews says. “All these drugs do reduce symptoms, probably to some degree, in the short-term. The trick is what happens in the long term. Our results suggest that when you try to go off the drugs, depression will bounce back. This can leave people stuck in a cycle where they need to keep taking anti-depressants to prevent a return of symptoms.”
Andrews believes depression may actually be a natural and beneficial — though painful
– state in which the brain is working to cope with stress.
“There’s a lot of debate about whether or not depression is truly a disorder, as most clinicians and the majority of the psychiatric establishment believe, or whether it’s an evolved adaptation that does something useful,” he says.
Longitudinal studies cited in the paper show that more than 40 per cent of the population may experience major depression at some point in their lives.
Most depressive episodes are triggered by traumatic events such as the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship or the loss of a job. Andrews says the brain may blunt other functions such as appetite, sex drive, sleep and social connectivity, to focus its effort on coping with the traumatic event.
Just as the body uses fever to fight infection, he believes the brain may also be using depression to fight unusual stress.
Not every case is the same, and severe cases can reach the point where they are clearly not beneficial, he emphasizes.
Provided by McMaster University (news : web)