APRIL Conference 2008 Breakout Session A COMING OFF MEDICATION including benzodiazepines, SSRI and similar antidepressants

Benzodiazepines and other psychotropic drugs. What they do and problems of withdrawal.

Discussion with:
Prof. Heather Ashton, Dr. Joanna Moncrieff, Prof. David Healy and Adam Jhugroo
Chaired by:Pam Armstrong
For more information april.org.uk

' Coming Off' session A took place in London on November 2008 at APRIL charity's third conference 'Adverse Psychiatric side effects of medicines: What's our responsibility ? '

For more information on coming off psychotropic medicines see comingoff.com.
The Ashton Withdrawal Protocol for Benzodiazepines can be downloaded at benzo.org.uk

Adverse psychiatric side effects of medicines: What’s our responsibility? was the third conference organised by APRIL charity at Friends’ House Euston London - November 6 2008 (For more information see april.org.uk )

The day consisted of talks in the main hall and three breakout sessions on the topic of ‘Coming off Medicines’.

Discussion included the fact that some people will be unable to stop taking psychotropic medicines - can psychosis be ‘cured’ without drugs? - conflicts of opinion between psychiatrists on whether schizophrenia can be cured.

Tramadol, beta- blockers and steroids were mentioned in the conversation as well as benzodiazepines and SSRI and other antidepressants. Also anti-psychotics that can induce psychosis on withdrawal, and are sometimes prescribed for anxiety.

The following speakers were involved in the ‘Coming Off Medicines’ session A

C Heather ASHTON DM FRCP, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychopharmacology, Newcastle University, worked in the drug and poisons information unit at Newcastle Royal Infirmary for 15 years.

An expert on the effects of prescription drugs on the mind, Heather is also a leading expert on cannabis and has seen many cases of cannabis psychosis.

Professor Ashton ran a benzodiazepine withdrawal clinic in Newcastle for several years and helped hundreds of people withdraw from addictive tranquillisers and sleeping pills.

As well as participating in the 'Coming Off' session, Heather also spoke in the main conference. Details on APRIL web site april.org.uk

David HEALY spoke mainly in Session B and made comments in Session A. He is professor of psychiatry at Cardiff University and a former secretary of the British Association for Psychopharmacology. He is the author of over 150 articles and 20 books, including The Antidepressant Era The Creation of Psychopharmacology, Let Them Eat Prozac.
He has drawn attention to the psychiatric side effects of drugs, from suicidality and violence to physical dependence.

This website explores threats to public safety and academic freedom surrounding the SSRI group of drugs – Prozac, Zoloft (Lustral), Paxil (Seroxat/Aropax) healyprozac.com

David also spoke in the main conference, for details see april.org.uk

Dr Joanna MONCRIEFF is a Senior Lecturer at University College London and a practicisng consultant psychiatrist. She has written many scientific papers about psychiatric drugs, including antidepressants, antipsychotics, lithium and drugs for alcohol problems.

Joanna has found psychotropic drugs are less effective than is usually claimed and that they do not treat psychiatric diseases but work by producing abnormal drug-induced states.

Joanna has also written about the role of the pharmaceutical industry and the history of psychiatry. The book "The Myth of the Chemical Cure" is published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Pam Armstong, BA(Hon) in Psychology and Sociology, Registered General Nurse, Registered Midwife,Registered Nurse Tutor, Diploma in Counselling
Honary member of California & Nevada Medical Educators Against Substance Abuse
2001 Became member of 'International Centre for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology', Member of Counsellors in Primary Care.

Pam co-founded C.I.T.A. (Counselling for Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction) with ex-user Peter Ritson, a charity based organisation, operating from its base in Liverpool. This organisation amongst many other things provides a personal helpline for tranquilliser addicts.

Pam still remained as a consultant for C.I.T.A. and founded a fee based support and advice service Back to Life. citawithdrawal.org.uk/
Helpline: 0151 932 0102
(lines open Monday to Friday, 10am-1 pm). Pam Chaired Session A and participated in B.

We are sad to announce PAM'S UNTIMELY DEATH on Monday 16th November 2010 due to cancer.

A mental health nurse working with psychologist Rufus May, with Bradford and Airedale Early Intervention Service.
Adam is interested how people understand unusual and distressing experiences and the different ways people negotiate these experiences in everyday life. One of the organisers of Evoliving Minds a public meeting that meets monthly in Bradford, to explore different ways of understanding and addressing emotional distress.

Adam helps organise self help groups in Bradford including a Recovery group in Lynfield Mount Hospital, a 'Psych Meds and You' group, and a self help group for people with unusual beliefs called ‘Believe It or Not!’ at the University of Bradford.

Adam believes in the importance of planning well before withdrawal begins. Looking at aspects of recreational activities and finding ways to deal with withdrawal effects.

Una CORBETT is the coordinator of Battle Against Tranquillisers (BAT). She is also the Dual Diagnosis Lead for South Gloucestershire Drug and Alcohol Services.

BAT is a service-user-led organisation, in that its trustees are overwhelmingly ex- service users and carers. BAT works in very productive partnerships with drug and alcohol; services, but Una regrets the lack of communication between GPs and mental health services. Website: bataid.org UK National Help Line 0117 966 3629 (Una contributed to the workshop but does not wish to appear on the video)

For more information see: comingoff.com, benzo.org.uk has the Ashton Manual free to download and april.org.uk has links and information

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