Stopping Cold Turkey and Dead Duck Stupidity

Oy, twice today I’ve had psych medication drama and questioning and turned into a nurse again automatically. It’s like I’m a sleeper agent and the KGB phoned me up and said the control word or something.


Issue One:  If someone suddenly stops their psychiatric medication cold turkey… you should expect them to start feeling completely terrible and having behavior and mood changes. Basically if they really need the medication, it’s because they are to some degree crazy. So all that crazy is probably going to come back, plus coming off the medication so suddenly means you’re going to get… ahhh… “Crazy Blowback”.

Yeah I just made up Crazy Blowback as a term. Shit gets real here lol.

You can’t force them to take medication… well that’s not entirely true, you can force them to take medication, it’s just a “human rights violation” and after a while they wise up to why you’re giving them pieces of cheese wrapped in bacon three times a day.

What you should do is immediately inform the prescriber of the medication being stopped. They may want to see them promptly to evaluate them, or they may want you to dial 911 depending on the situation. Sometimes, depending on the medication and the dose in question, they just say, “Okay, just hold tight and observe them, it shouldn’t be that bad.” Whatever the advice is, that’s the advice and you should feel reasonably confident it’s what you should do.

Like any other situation, if they become violent, aggressive, threaten self-harm or harm of others… then 911 can be called, and/or transport them to the Emergency Room. Also in some areas you can call Mobile Crisis – normally it’s a 211 number – and you have a psych responder sent to the house to evaluate them, which if you have it is often the best option.

Issue Two:  You decided they didn’t need their psychatric medication… and you flushed it all down the toilet.

This is called you being a total dumbass at best, and abusively cruel at worst.

Oh actually that’s not true…

If you happen to destory your spouse’s controlled medication – and plenty of psychaitric medications are controlled substances – that’s you performing a criminal act. When your spouse calls their doctor up to get more of the medication, they aren’t going to be able to get any more of it… at least not without throwing you under the bus… which frankly they have every right to do. After that it’s up to the doctor / pharmacist / police as to how it all plays out. Stressful, huh? Want an Ativan?

So yeah… not expecting to hear back from that guy…

And for the record, I am extremely hesitant to feel comfortable about anyone being on psych meds. I think they are way over prescribed, but some people really do need them and like a rollercoaster, you need to wait until the ride comes to a full and complete stop before popping the seatbelt and trying to get off the ride. Being on the meds is always the lesser of two evils.

Carry on.


  1. “Being on the meds is always the lesser of two evils.”

    Not always…..big pharma has a lot of skin in the game and
    a lot of people are on meds they REALLY don’t need…..because
    doctors are pressured to prescribe….by both pharmacy reps
    and family members who don’t want to deal with difficult
    relatives so…….LETS JUST DRUG EM.

    The epidemic of Ritalin abuse is ample evidence that psychotropic
    medications are a rich (sic) candidate for abuse.

    But yes….amateurs making changes in someones dose regimen
    is usually going to have negative outcomes of some kind.

  2. Getting someone off of psych drugs safely is a campaign to wage, not a bomb to drop.

  3. All I gotta say about that second situation is: holy shit. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

  4. BetaTester says:

    I have been a pharmacist for 22 years and have seen the psychotropic medication list grow and grow. The new ones are no more effective than the older ones, just different/fewer side effects. I have personally observed and concluded: After treatment of depression/psychosis/bipolar disorder, some people are simply assholes.

    And there are no drugs made for that.

  5. Wait, who the hell flushes their spouse’s – or anyone’s – medication, of any kind, down the toilet? Is this seriously a big enough issue to get an entire section? (Serious question.)

  6. I'm a man says:

    Med’s are for getting things calmed down so issues can be resolved and coping skills can be developed.

    Big Pharma is in the business of selling pills…over and over. If they cured you with one pill the’d make no money so its in their best interest to ease symptoms but keep you sick…for the rest of your life.

  7. “Wait, who the hell flushes their spouse’s – or anyone’s – medication, of any kind, down the toilet? Is this seriously a big enough issue to get an entire section? (Serious question.)”

    IMHO, some of the MMSL posts are like no trespassing / no hunting signs posted on someone’s property. There as guidance and warning on things not to do (lest bad things happen). Everyone learns from mistakes. In this case, we get to learn from someone elses… :-)

  8. Wait, who the hell flushes their spouse’s – or anyone’s – medication, of any kind, down the toilet? Is this seriously a big enough issue to get an entire section? (Serious question.)

    Perhaps someone who writes a self-incriminating email that could land oneself in jail if published. In such a situation, someone else might elect to use the “hey, this random thought just occurred to me out of the blue, DON’T FLUSH YOUR SPOUSE’S MEDS DOWN THE TOILET!” -approach.

  9. Milf-in-Training says:

    I agree with Athol … psych meds are way overprescribed, but in some cases, they really are necessary. Other remedies should be tried first, and periodically after that, but meds can be life savers.

    However, you have to be just as careful when someone you know is going ON a new med. I know of a woman who had to take out a restraining order on her husband when he was put on a new med that made him psychotically violent.

  10. enlightened1 says:


    LOL!! That’s EXACTLY what my children’s psychologist said to them after listening to their stories of their mentally ill Dad: “There’s Bi-polar and then there’s ass-hole. You can’t medicate for ass-hole!”

  11. enlightened1 says:

    Frequently mentally ill people don’t stay on their meds; they self-medicate, form little (or big) stockpiles, add in alchohol or other psychotrops, toss in anti-depressants and perhaps a muscle relaxant, then top it off with a diazepine or 5. I can see how a frustrated spouse might toss out meds. Add to this the HIPAA laws that prevent sharing of information and you have a recipe for abuse of the non-medicated spouse who is trying desperately to get help. Even if you bring your spouse in or they are arrested you CANNOT get them to communicate with you what the diagnosis is. Neither will they discuss their meds with you. Another complication is mentally ill people are usually very bright and in constant self-deception mode and RARELY have just one doctor; resulting in multiple medications for multiple symptoms.

  12. enlightened1 says:

    And yes, psych meds are over prescibed but I don’t know that I would call them the “lesser of two evils”; I believe a more accurately description would be the “the evil of two lessers”…..

  13. Doktor-Freud says:

    As a child Psychiatrist was surprised to see this topic come up. We (primary care docs included) both under and over prescribe these meds. What i mean by this is that we have good research that a fair number of people who don’t need meds are taking them. And a good number of people who would benefit from meds aren’t getting them. We also know that some of these meds work better than others. Just the way it is. I appreciate the thoughtful treatment of the issue here. Thus is an area where thoughtless people can cause harm.

    As a side note, I read about relationships routinely and have come to think that you (Athol) and some others really do have some interesting and important ideas. Thank you for what is usually a good discussion.

  14. Killa Hertz says:

    Flushed them down the toilet? Egads.

    Some meds, if stopped cold turkey, cause a far worse reaction than the person ever felt before they were on the meds. This dude could have just ruined someone’s life. Are you effing kidding me?

  15. RedPillAlready says:

    Pretty sure you can’t call up the prescriber of the medication and ask them _anything_ due to HIPAA rights and all of that. Unless your spouse has already signed the paperwork that lets them talk to you, you be shit-outta-luck. (right?)

    You can certainly report to them what you are seeing though.

  16. enlightened1 says:

    Reporting to “them” what you are seeing is effectively worthless. Because of the abuse of involuntary commitment prior to the 1960’s the laws are designed to protect the rights of individuals NOT the people suffering from the abuse of mental illness. Yes, you can report your observations but until they actually try to harm someone or themselves there will be no intervention. If you are going through a separation or divorce they are even less inclined to take your “observations” seriously. The news is riddled with stories of people “who snap” and kill themselves or others. I don’t believe in this “snapping” theory. There is always a long trail of reports and “observations” yet “authorities” hands are tied until they actually attempt or complete the act. I think the “snapping theory” is to comfort the people who are bewildered afterward. How many pastors, health care professionals or police do you know that come forward after a stupid or violent act and report that they were told over and over that the person who was killed or harmed was afraid for their life or the lives of others. Uhh…nobody waiting line to do that! I’m not suggesting flushing the meds is a good idea; I am merely suggesting that the person doing the flushing is in relationship with someone who they want to help; they want their relationship back and they may be at wits end and truly not know what to do or where to turn. Or,…. they could just be judgmental controlling jackholes.

  17. I feel bad for the flusher and the flushee. There is no doubt that things will get much worse for them before it gets better.
    However, living with a mentally ill person has taught me not to judge the distressed person or the carer.
    Its really hard to think with a clear head when you are in that situation. Until you are living it, you have NO IDEA what you are talking about. Really, you don’t.
    I agree with enlighteneds suggetstion; being at my wits end is something both my daughter and I experience on a daily basis.

    As a side note, I believe if everyone was properly informed of the side effects of the meds they are on, before they became addicted to them, very few people would be on them. They would probably elect to self medicate instead.

  18. Off The Grid says:

    I dated a Bipolar woman that refused to take her meds, might have been the most exciting 8 months of my life!

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