Drugging Is Always Damaging

I was glad to read the Guidelines revisions in the January Present Time, and I agree with them, except for one part.

The proposal on psychiatric drugs, third paragraph, reads: "Workers in the current "mental health' system often fall back on these drugs to control symptoms of "mental illness' because these workers are discouraged and over-worked in situations that are understaffed, and they do not have access to effective counseling techniques."

I propose this rewording, to be informally adopted now and formally adopted at the next World Conference: "Many professionals and other workers in the current "mental health' system believe in drugs as a main means of "treatment.' This comes from obeying their fears and the propaganda from society, while abandoning common sense and the experience in front of their eyes. While more staff, chances to let go of discouragement and fear, and access to the best counseling assumptions would be of great help, the drugs make life harder for both staff and patients."

Distress patterns do not run human decisions unless we let this happen. Discouraged decisions are caused by obedience to discouragement.

I have worked in a nursing home and know nursing home workers and residents in other homes. It is not acceptable for a nurse's aide to shove a resident, no matter how understaffed the home is. Everybody knows this, and everybody acknowledges it. Shoving is always unacceptable and is reason enough to be fired. Shoving could in no way make a worker's job easier.

Drugging people (sometimes even without their knowledge of it) is a far worse abuse than shoving them. To stop this vicious pattern, it must be firmly viewed as unacceptable. A decision to run this pattern is not caused by discouragement and overwork. And it does not make one's work easier.

Drugging is done because it is socially acceptable abuse. It continues in part because those who claim it is "treatment" are the same set of people who make or administer policies. Calling the drugs "medications" is like calling a shove or a slap "nurturing."

It is a myth that psychiatric drugs are a tradeoff - that they save time and money, though they do not address patients' real needs.

I am glad to say that I helped a nursing home reduce the drugging of people. In spite of my having to be very pushy, and people at the top feeling angry about being told what to do, reducing drugs brought only good change. The same number of staff had more time, and since the drugs are expensive, money was saved.

Attitude changes were immediately noticeable. I had said that any person who actually interacted on a human level with the residents would not decide to drug them. This was taken to heart, and humanness seemed to reverberate among everyone in the home as workers interacted with residents in a real way. Instead of talking above the heads of residents while they fed or changed them, they talked to the residents. This resulted in better relationships between workers and residents, and work went faster because of cooperation.

None of this is hard to confirm in one's own life. Just as life gets easier for all when people break away from cocaine or alcohol, it gets easier when Ritalin or Haldol leaves the picture.

There's a big difference between not punishing people for their mistakes and being patient with violence. It does not work to be patient with the drug-dealing patterns of professionals, except maybe briefly, in a new situation.

I know a number of people pushing on this issue, and the harder they push, while maintaining integrity and humanness, the better the results.

Aggressively stopping the drugging of people puts one's job at risk because in general, co-workers are not backing each other up. It's that simple. If people start backing each other up, the threats of losing one's job or being sued will be handled.

I know a number of people who've been a force of one in their workplaces. If even one co-worker had quietly, firmly supported their position, the threat of job loss would have been reduced. Five workers in a relatively good workplace could bring about a policy to eliminate the use of psychiatric drugs.

An attitude of personal responsibility by all people - patients, families, doctors, you name it - will wreck the patterns in the "mental health" system quicker than lightning.

I know RCers who are bullheaded in their determination to stop the abuse of people through psychiatric drugs. They are doing great things, as are their counterparts who are not involved in RC, but both groups are small in number. Maybe this is because this work can involve making visible mistakes and being accused of making terrible errors.

To succeed we need to make errors on the side of "too nice" sometimes and "too aggressive" other times. We will be shoved around mainly for the pushy errors, which is the incentive society offers to always be nice. Nice is "normal," after all.

If drug companies, doctors, nurses, and other professionals are given the latitude to continue the violence until they feel they have enough staffing, money, discharge, etc., the violence will go on for a long, long time. If everyone is expected to act like a person, we will soon see much better times.

Jim Shackelford
Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00