Drugs and Desperation

And these are just the leftovers.

Prozac, Xanax, Klonopin, Risperdal, Abilify, Effexor, Concerta, Vyvanse, Adderall, Atarax/Vistaril.

Over the course of a year’s time, Dan took all of these medications, in various dosages and combinations.  At times he was prescribed up to five medications at once, and since many of them require dosages two or three times daily, a good part of Dan’s day revolved around taking pills.

I look at this list and I can’t believe it. As a mom who would think long and hard before giving her children a decongestant, how could I have allowed this to happen?

I know the answer now and I knew the answer then. Desperation. Dan was in such bad shape that my husband and I were willing to try anything. The doctors assured us that we just needed to find the right combination of medications for Dan, and I touch on this in a previous post: Trial and Error and Error.

We never did find that elusive right combination. The wrong combinations kept piling up in his system and the side-effects worsened until I finally said, “Enough is enough.” Weaning Dan off of all of his medications was the best decision we could have made.

I never felt comfortable with Dan taking so many drugs and more than once asked the doctor if they might be the cause of some of Dan’s problems, not the solution. I remember as clear as day, Dan’s psychiatrist’s patronizing look as he obviously thought I was in denial over the severity of Dan’s OCD. “He needs the medications now,” the doctor said. “He is a very sick young man.”

The side-effects of these drugs are well documented, and the additional effects of some of these medications on teenagers and young adults are also known. So why didn’t Dan’s psychiatrist even consider the possibility that the pills were having a deleterious effect on Dan?

The multiple medications were started when Dan entered his residential program for OCD.  We were told he needed the drugs in order to function well enough to participate fully in his Exposure Response Prevention Therapy. I believe this is probably true. When he left this program after nine weeks, I feel he should have been weaned off of most, if not all, of these medications. Instead, other meds were substituted, different combination and dosages were tried, and more drugs were added. There is no doubt in my mind that at this point, all of the pills Dan was taking were doing him more harm than good.

It’s kind of ironic to think that now, at age twenty-two, Dan won’t even have a beer with his friends. He says he already knows what it’s like not to think or feel clearly, and he prefers being in control.

Wow. No drugs. No desperation. And he’s in control. We’ve come a long way.

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8 Responses to Drugs and Desperation

  1. PinkMom07 says:

    I’m so glad to hear that you’re son is doing better!

  2. Wow, that is quite the list of meds! I am shocked and saddened to hear that he was constantly pumped full of pills, and that the psychiatrist assumed he/she was the expert in what was best for you and Dan. That is unfortunate, and clearly Dan was able to develop his own way of coping without the meds. I understand many people with mental illness do need medications, but they are not helpful to everyone, and luckily you were able to realize that.

    • ocdtalk says:

      You are right. Medications are not helpful to everyone, and several of the meds even exacerbated Dan’s symptoms. What works for one person may not necessatily work for another…..

  3. Azari says:

    I got nothing out of drugs with my OCD

  4. Ken says:

    This article has described the past year and a half of my life. Personally I don’t feel like medication is not the answer to helping myself.when my OCD first began I thought this way as well, but the desperation to get relief got really bad and some of the therapists I saw were pushing medication like it was no big deal. And I was willing to try anything, which in turn ended up causing me more suffering. I have gone through 5 psychiatrists in the past year and a half because I was so desperate to find relief. looking back to one incident was when I took my first ssri (celexa), was the same day I went to the hospital because my anxiety became to much to handle, which later turned me into and anxious emotional train wreck which led to switching to paxil causing a severe akathisia reaction, suicidal thoughts, sensory overload, and many other things then to Zoloft which I caught before things got out of hand. But the one thing that kept me going back was desperation. And the unsettling thing to me was that the first two times this happened I didn’t even question the medication. But I would call the psychiatrist In tears pleading to them for help and the only thing I was told was to be admitted. at the time hearing that didn’t sound like a bad idea. but looking back I was very unaware of what these meds were doing to me and how unsafe these doctors can be. But my last time around something changed. I again had a severe akathisia reaction and I called the doctor and was told that it couldn’t be possible because my dosage was very low, but this time I was able to tell the difference. I went from having sever OCD but able to somewhat go about my day to completely disabled, having tics, and housbound this realization caused me to do a little research. now im not telling anybody what to do but some of the information I found was very disturbing and frustrating. Basically, and unfortunately psychiatry has a policy of “don’t ask don’t tell” rather than based on truth. So its not lying its just leaving out pieces of information that I believe shoudnt be. Im not saying medication hasn’t helped anybody although it made me a lot worse, but I am saying that there is not enough real evidence for me to continue subjecting myself to anymore unnecessary suffering that medication has caused. I was and have been hard on myself telling myself I wasn’t giving it a fair shot and I didn’t really try but in actuality I endured a lot in this past year and a half and its more than any psychiatrist has personally experienced first hand. which also tells me a lot. sorry for the pseudo rant but I think that psychiatric care needs to be reined in rather than being able to let the billion dollar man make his wallet fatter.


  5. Hi Ken, Thank you so much for sharing, and I’m so sorry you’ve had such negative experiences. Like you, my son and I, at first, didn’t connect his decline to his meds. I actually remember thinking, “If he’s doing this poorly on all these meds, I hate to think how bad off he’d be without the medication.” It never occurred to me that the meds could actually be causing so many of his problems! I agree with everything you say and truly hope you are on the right path now. Exposure and response prevention therapy with a competent specialist is the front line treatment for OCD, and it saved my son’s life. I wish you all the best as you move forward, and hope to hear from you again.

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