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On Being Both A Patient Harmed By Prescribed Psychiatric Medication & A Medical Provider
February 12, 2021
This panel is focused on the experiences of four medical providers who were also patients and were harmed by prescribed psychiatric medication.
Christy Huff, MD, is a cardiologist residing in the U.S. and director of Benzodiazepine Information Coalition, a nonprofit that educates about the adverse effects of prescribed benzodiazepines. Dr. Huff experienced benzodiazepine adverse effects and injury firsthand after three weeks of prescribed Xanax use for insomnia in 2015. Over a three-year period, she slowly tapered off benzodiazepines utilizing Valium and suffered disabling withdrawal symptoms for the entirety of her taper. Her personal experience led her to realize the serious risks of these drugs and the severity of the benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, neither of which were emphasized during her medical training. Dr. Huff specifically advocates for better education of physicians regarding the adverse effects of benzodiazepines and how to safely taper patients off these drugs.
Dr Mark Horowitz is a training psychiatrist and researcher, who has a PhD from King’s College London on the neurobiology of depression and the action of antidepressants. He also, for many years, took the drugs he prescribed. When he tried to come off them he had a quick and sharp education into the world of withdrawal and the lack of knowledge in the medical field about this topic. Since then he has tried to bring more awareness to the topic of safe de-prescribing of psychotropic drugs through his academic work, including articles published on how to safely taper antidepressants and antipsychotics, and work with the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK on developing their guidance for patients stopping antidepressants. He is currently the clinical research fellow on the RADAR trial in London, looking at the effect of gradually tapering people with schizophrenia off their antipsychotics.
Dr Peter Gordon is Scottish and lives near Stirling. He retired from medicine in 2020 at the age of 51 years. He felt that he could no longer work as a Consultant psychiatrist given his concerns in relation to the consequences of over-medicalisation including prescribed harm. To help anxiety he was started on an SSRI antidepressant in the 1990s following the UK’s ‘Defeat Depression Campaign’. He has not been able to successfully withdraw from this prescribed medication and the harmful consequences of this drug have had a huge impact on his life. As an NHS doctor, Peter advocated for professional values and the importance of transparency. In addition to his medical degrees, Peter has a Masters degree in the Arts. Peter is married and his wife is a General Practitioner. Together they have two grown-up children.
Nicole Lamberson, PA is a physician assistant residing in the U.S. and a member of the outreach team for Medicating Normal-The Film. Nicole also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of Benzodiazepine Information Coalition and she co-founded The Withdrawal Project, a grassroots community effort of Inner Compass Initiative. She has also volunteered annually on World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day since its inception. She is also a member of the prescribed harm community, having been a patient herself after being prescribed Xanax in 2005 for “work stress.” Misdiagnosed benzodiazepine tolerance withdrawal and adverse effects subsequently led to prescribed polypharmacy—including two benzodiazepines prescribed simultaneously, a Z-drug, an antidepressant, a stimulant, and an antipsychotic. A medically-recommended rapid “detox” in 2010 ultimately resulted in a severe and protracted withdrawal syndrome (neurotoxicity) that persists to date.