GAO Reviewing VA’s Psychiatric Drug Practices At Congressman Coffman’s Request

Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman’s continuing concern about the overuse of psychiatric drugs in treating combat veterans has resulted in the Government Accountability Office agreeing to investigate the matter.

In a letter sent to the GAO, Coffman and New Hampshire Congresswoman Annie Kuster requested a review of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ mental health standards for treating veterans suffering from combat-related conditions, expressing concern that the VA’s heavy reliance on powerful psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs could be contributing to veteran suicides.

On September 27, the GAO agreed to do so and expects to complete the investigation in six months.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights has long advocated a full investigation of the link between veterans’ suicides and psychotropic drugs.

An average of 20 veterans commit suicide every day in the U.S., according to the VA.  This follows years of the increasing use of psychiatric drugs as mental health treatment for veterans and members of the military.

In the years 2005-2011, military prescriptions for psychiatric drugs increased more than 30 times faster than the civilian rate, despite nearly 50 warnings from international drug-regulatory agencies that psychotropic drugs can cause suicidal thoughts and actions.

In a statement released by his office, Coffman, a Marine Corps combat veteran himself, said: “This decision is a victory for combat veterans everywhere who are suffering from PTSD and who have been prescribed a cocktail of very powerful drugs to mask their symptoms in lieu of other forms of interactive therapy that work to bring down the stress levels of PTSD to a point where they are no longer debilitating.”

Warning:  Anyone wanting to discontinue psychiatric drugs is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

If you or a veteran or other member of the military you know has been harmed by psychiatric drugs or other mental-health treatment, we want to talk to you.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

UPDATE: Colorado Springs Teen Accused Of Stabbing Young Siblings Had Been On Antidepressants

Malik J. Murphy, the 19-year-old charged with murder in the stabbing deaths of his 5-year-old sister and 7-year-old brother and with the attempted murder of his father in their Colorado Springs home on Tuesday, has a history of taking antidepressants.

Murphy was already taking antidepressants in March, when he was arrested in Effingham, Illinois, for setting fire to his parents’ SUV.  His parents told police at the time that the teen had been on antidepressants. 

The Effingham county state’s attorney involved in that case said an Illinois judge ordered psychiatric treatment and ordered the teen to take all the psychiatric drugs prescribed to him.

Murphy reportedly then had several months of intensive treatment.  It is not known what psychiatric drugs he was prescribed during that treatment, but he apparently would have had to take them all under the court order.

More recently, Murphy’s great-aunt indicated he was still on court-ordered drugs.

Antidepressants can cause worsening depression, anxiety, panic attacks, aggression, psychosis, mania, violence, suicidal thoughts and actions, and homicidal thoughts and actions.

Murphy told police he had homicidal thoughts and wanted to kill his family, according to his arrest affidavit in this latest case.

He also had suicidal thoughts, according to a family friend who said he grew up with Murphy.

Long-term antidepressant users say they can no longer feel normal emotions – they are deadened like zombies.  Users describe it as a feeling-less state of apathy and disconnection.

Murphy told a KUSA reporter, “It’s like it wasn’t me.”

This tragic incident, if true as alleged, joins a long list of “inexplicable” acts of unspeakable violence committed by adults and children taking antidepressants.

Only by fully investigating mind-altering psychiatric drugs’ known links to violence and homicide can we hope to prevent such tragic bloodshed in the future.

Warning: Anyone wishing to discontinue a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous and even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you know has been harmed by psychiatric drugs, we want to talk with you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Colorado Springs Teen With History of Psychiatric Drugs Arrested For Fatal Stabbings of Young Siblings

A Colorado Springs teen, Malik Vincent Murphy, arrested yesterday morning for the fatal stabbings of his 5-year-old sister and 7-year-old brother and the nonfatal stabbing of his father reportedly has a history of psychiatric drugs.

Psychiatric drugs have known links to violence.  There are 28 warnings from international drug regulatory agencies concerning violence-related side effects of psychiatric drugs.

Psychiatric drugs were found disproportionately linked to acts of violence in a 2010 analysis of prescription drug side-effects data from the Food and Drug Administration’s adverse event reporting system.

Murphy’s history of psychiatric drug treatment dates at least as far back as earlier this year, according to published accounts.

Murphy was arrested for setting his family’s SUV on fire in March.  A judge ordered psychiatric treatment and ordered the teen to take all prescribed psychiatric drugs, according to the county state attorney involved in the case.

More recently, Murphy’s great-aunt has said he was on court-ordered drugs.

Murphy told police that he had homicidal thoughts and wanted to kill his family, according to his arrest affidavit.  A family friend who said he grew up with Murphy claimed that the young man had suicidal thoughts.

Suicidal and homicidal thoughts are known adverse effects of some psychiatric drugs, including antidepressants.

It is not yet known what psychiatric drugs Murphy was prescribed, or when or how he took them.

However, the incident, if true as alleged, joins a long list of “inexplicable” acts of unspeakable violence committed by adults and children taking psychiatric drugs.

Only by fully investigating mind-altering psychiatric drugs’ known links to violence and homicide can we hope to prevent such tragic bloodshed in the future.

Warning: Anyone wishing to discontinue a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous and even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you know has been harmed by psychiatric drugs, we want to talk with you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Las Vegas Shooter Prescribed Same Psychiatric Drug As John Hinckley and University of Texas Tower Shooter

The same psychiatric drug linked to the Las Vegas shooting massacre, in which at least 58 people were killed and 489 wounded, is linked to two of the highest-profile shootings in U.S. history: the 1981 attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan and the 1966 University of Texas Tower shooting.

Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock was prescribed diazepam, sold under the brand name Valium, in June and purchased the drug the same day it was prescribed, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

Diazepam was also prescribed for John Hinckley Jr. before his attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981.  Hinckley’s lawyer has said Hinckley’s mental condition deteriorated while taking the drug, and he believes the diazepam made Hinckley more dangerous.

In 1966, in the first mass shooting to rock the nation, Valium was prescribed to Charles Whitman, the University of Texas Tower shooter, who stabbed his wife and mother to death the night before climbing a tower on the UT campus and gunning down passers-by, killing 15 and wounding 31.

Diazepam is supposed to treat anxiety, but it can have the opposite effect.  When it does, the side effects include increased anxiety, agitation, aggressiveness, delusions, nightmares, hallucinations, instability, rage, and psychosis, according to FDA-approved drug information.

Paddock’s girlfriend reportedly described behavior to investigators that indicates Paddock was suffering, possibly from such side effects.  She said he would lie in bed, moaning and screaming, “Oh, my God,” according to a former FBI official who was briefed on the matter.

Diazepam belongs to the drug class benzodiazepine.

Peter Breggin, M.D., a psychiatrist who has been involved in criminal and civil cases related to a number of mass murders, writes:  “For decades, it has been known that benzodiazepines like Valium, Xanax and Klonopin can cause impulsivity, disinhibition, or loss of self-control resulting in violence.”

A link to violence was found in a 2010 analysis of side-effects data from the Food and Drug Administration’s adverse event reporting system.  Diazepam was identified as one of the 31 prescription drugs most linked to acts of violence reported to the FDA.

We do not know how the psychiatric drug(s) Paddock was prescribed may have caused or contributed to his monstrous killing spree and the self-violence of taking his own life.

But we do know that the Las Vegas massacre joins a long list of shootings committed by perpetrators with a history of psychiatric drug “treatment.”

Two of the deadliest shooting rampages with links to psychiatric drugs happened here in Colorado:  at Columbine High School in 1999 and at an Aurora movie theater in 2012.

Only by fully investigating mind-altering psychiatric drugs’ known links to violence and homicide can we hope to prevent such tragic bloodshed in the future.

Warning: Anyone wishing to discontinue a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous and even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you know has been harmed by psychiatric drugs, we want to talk with you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Remember What Unleashed The Hatred Of The Aurora Theater Shooter

On the occasion of today’s 5-year remembrance of the July 20, 2012 mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater that killed 12 people and wounded 70 others, remember the chilling words of the shooter which foreshadowed the massacre: “Hatred unchecked,” “no fear of consequences.”

Then consider the events that led up to shooter James Holmes writing these ominous words in a personal notebook.

Holmes, a graduate student at the University of Colorado, contacted the campus mental health center for help with his obsessive thoughts of killing people and his anxiety in social situations.

The psychiatrist who met with him immediately prescribed psychiatric drugs linked to aggression, violence and homicide, including the SSRI antidepressant Zoloft.

Within weeks, Holmes had written an alarming series of statements in the notebook where he recorded his thoughts during his psychiatric treatment:  “First appearance of mania occurs, not good mania.  Anxiety and fear disappears.  No more fear….  No fear of consequences…  No more fear, hatred unchecked.”

Peter Breggin, M.D., a Harvard-trained psychiatrist who has been involved as an expert with a number of cases of mass murder, has written that “exposing Holmes to Zoloft was like pouring gasoline on a fire.”

Breggin says Holmes was on Zoloft for about 94 days before abruptly stopping around June 30, just 20 days before his deadly rampage.

“An abrupt withdrawal might have worsened his condition, but the main contributing factor to the violence was his lengthy exposure to a drug that worsened his condition and drove him into psychosis,” he writes.  “He had a manic-like psychosis while taking the Zoloft and this would not have abated for some time after stopping the medication.”

Breggin’s conclusion: “I have no doubt that Zoloft contributed to Holmes’ escalating violence and that without it he probably would not have committed mass murder.”

At least 34 research studies and 26 warnings issued by international drug regulatory authorities have warned about the dangers of SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft.

Zoloft is also on the list of the prescription drugs most associated with the incidents of violence that have been reported to the FDA, according to a 2010 study in the Public Library of Science ONE.

Only by fully investigating psychiatric drugs’ known links to violence and homicide can we hope to prevent such tragic bloodshed in the future.

Warning: Anyone wishing to discontinue an antidepressant or any other psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you know has become violent from taking an SSRI antidepressant or any other psychiatric drug, please report it to the FDA by clicking here.  And we want to talk to you about your experience.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Colorado Congressmen Sponsor Bill To Review Suicides By Veterans On Psychiatric Drugs and Opioids

In an attempt to combat the epidemic of suicides by veterans on psychiatric drugs and opioids, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO 6th district) has introduced legislation in Congress to review the link between prescription drugs and veterans’ suicides.  Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO 2nd district) is a co-sponsor of the bill.

An average of 20 veterans a day committed suicide in 2014, the latest year for which data is available, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.  Veterans, who made up less than 9 percent of the U.S. adult population (ages 18+) in 2014, accounted for 18 percent of the adult suicides.

The Veteran Overmedication Prevention Act of 2017 (H.B. 2652), introduced May 25, calls for a thorough and independent review of all suicides, violent deaths, and accidental deaths during a five-year period among veterans who received treatment at a VA facility during the five years leading up to their deaths.  The review would be done by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine under an agreement with the VA.

The bill calls for a review of all drugs identified in the toxicology testing of the decedents, with a separate listing of those drugs that also carried a black-box warning (required by the FDA to emphasize the serious or life-threatening risk of the drug), were prescribed for an off-label use, were psychotropic (mind-altering), and/or carried warnings of the risk of suicidal thoughts.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights has long advocated the investigation of the link between veterans’ suicides and psychiatric drugs.

Between 2005-2011, military prescriptions for psychiatric drugs increased nearly seven times (682%) – more than 30 times faster than the civilian rate.  One in six American service members takes at least one psychiatric drug.

(To view “The Hidden Enemy: Inside Psychiatry’s Covert Agenda,” the Citizens Commission on Human Rights documentary detailing how psychiatry uses the military as its testing ground, click here and then click on “Military Documentary.”)

This is despite the nearly 50 international drug-regulatory agency warnings that psychiatric drugs can cause suicidal thoughts and actions.

Dr. Bart Billings, a retired Army psychologist who has treated thousands of veterans suffering from what is commonly called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), has said  that the surge of prescriptions since 2005 “coincides with the gradual increase, to this day, of suicides in the military.  I feel there’s a direct relationship.”

House Bill 2562 is the counterpart to a bill of the same name introduced in the U.S. Senate (S. 992) on May 1 by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and a companion bill to the Veteran Suicide Prevention Act (H.B. 4640) introduced in the House by Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) in 2016.

WARNING: Anyone wanting to discontinue psychiatric drugs is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

If you or a veteran or other member of the military you know has been harmed by psychiatric drugs or other mental-health treatment, we want to talk to you.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Colorado Medical Board Disciplines Three Psychiatrists For Wrongly Prescribing Psych Drugs

Part of the ongoing series:
You Be The Judge

Three Colorado-licensed psychiatrists were disciplined by the Colorado Medical Board in April for unprofessional conduct that involved wrongly prescribing psychiatric drugs to their patients.

  • Ronald R. Berges, formerly employed by a Littleton psychiatric facility, prescribed a sedative, a benzodiazepine, and narcotic pain medications to a patient despite knowing the individual had a history of substance abuse and dependence and was exhibiting drug-seeking behavior, according to a Board document. Berges also continued prescribing Valium and Fentanyl, which can cause respiratory depression, to another substance abuser and failed to verify the doses of the drugs the patient told him he was getting.  The Medical Board sent Berges a letter of admonition and required him to complete a prescribing course.  Berges is now practicing in Iowa.
  • Jonathan B. Covey, of Colorado Springs, has been put on indefinite probation by the Medical Board for confusing the dosages of two mood stabilizers prescribed to a patient, and for his insensitivity and poor communication with another patient. In addition to probation, the Board sent Covey a letter of admonition and required him to complete an ethics program and communications course.
  • Richard L. Wallingford III, of Montrose, received a letter of admonition from the Board for failing to review the hospital discharge summary of a patient with a history of addiction before re-starting her on controlled substances. The Board further stated: “Your communication, coordination of care, and indefinite use of benzodiazepines without a discussion of alternatives or a possible reduction in use is below the standard of care for a Suboxone patient with a long history of addiction to both street and prescription drugs.”  Suboxone is a drug used to treat opiate addiction.  The Board warned Wallingford that any further such complaints could result in the Board starting formal disciplinary proceedings against his license to practice.

If you or someone you know has been harmed by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health worker, we want to talk with you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept strictly confidential.

New Study Raises Safety Concerns About Psychiatric Drug Use in the U.S.

A new report from researchers analyzing psychiatric drug use in the U.S. in 2013 has added to already existing concerns that older Americans are being overdrugged.

It also suggests that many Americans may be taking psychiatric drugs because they have become drug dependent, or are not discontinuing the drugs because of withdrawal symptoms.

One in six U.S. adults aged 18 to 85 reported taking an antidepressant, an antipsychotic, an anti-anxiety drug or sleeping pills in 2013, according to the study, published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

“I follow this area, so I knew the numbers would be high,” said Thomas J. Moore, a researcher at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices and the lead author of the analysis.  “But in some populations, the rates are extraordinary.”

For example, among adults 60 to 85 years old, one in four was taking at least one psychiatric drug.  That rate (25.1%) is more than 2½ times higher than the rate (9%) for adults 18 to 30 years old.

These 2013 statistics cover a period of time shortly after a 2011 investigation by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which found that nursing homes were giving many elderly residents powerful antipsychotic drugs that put their lives at risk, just to sedate them and make them more manageable.

The new study also found that nearly 85% of those taking psychiatric drugs had been taking them long term, having filled three or more prescriptions in 2013 or having taken the drug since 2011.  This long term use also concerned researchers.

“To discover that eight in 10 adults who have taken psychiatric drugs are using them long term raises safety concerns, given that there’s reason to believe some of this continued use is due to dependence and withdrawal symptoms,” said Moore.

Warning: Anyone wishing to discontinue a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

 If you or someone you know has experienced adverse effects from a psychiatric drug, please report it to the FDA here.  And we want to talk to you about your experience.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Psychiatrist: Columbine and Aurora Theater Shooters Were Driven By Psychiatric Drugs

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Image by Victor

A psychiatrist involved in the legal actions related to the shootings at Columbine High School and the Aurora Century theater has concluded that psychiatric drugs were the main contributing factor in both mass murders.

Peter Breggin, M.D., a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, has been involved in criminal and civil cases related to a number of mass murders.  He recently reported his conclusions concerning the role of psychiatric drugs in five mass murders, including the two worst in Colorado history.

We previously reported that Aurora theater shooter James Holmes experienced his first episode of mania after taking the antidepressant Zoloft (sertraline) prescribed by his psychiatrist, at which time he wrote in his journal that his hatred was unleashed.  Weeks later, Holmes went on the shooting rampage in which he killed 12 moviegoers and injured 70 others in July 2012.

We also previously reported that Eric Harris became obsessed with homicidal and suicidal thoughts within weeks of starting on the antidepressant Zoloft.  He was then switched to another violence-linked antidepressant, Luvox, which he was taking at the time he and Dylan Klebold opened fire at Columbine High School, killing 12 students and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves in April 1999.

Zoloft and Luvox are in the class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).  To date, 26 warnings by international drug regulatory authorities and 34 studies have warned that the adverse effects of SSRIs include mania, aggression, suicide and violence.  Both Zoloft and Luvox are on a list of prescription drugs with the most incidents of violence reported to the FDA, according to a 2010 study published by the Public Library of Science ONE (PLoS One).

Without the SSRI antidepressant, Holmes “probably would not have committed mass murder”

In his recent report, Breggin makes this observation about the psychiatric treatment James Holmes received: “Given the [psychiatrist’s] concerns about [James Holmes’] psychotic thinking and his obviously violent tendencies, exposing Holmes to Zoloft was like pouring gasoline on a fire.”

Breggin says Holmes was on Zoloft for about 94 days before abruptly stopping around June 30, just 20 days before his deadly rampage.  But it was not the sudden withdrawal that brought on the violence, according to Breggin.

“An abrupt withdrawal might have worsened his condition, but the main contributing factor to the violence was his lengthy exposure to a drug that worsened his condition and drove him into psychosis,” he writes.  “He had a manic-like psychosis while taking the Zoloft and this would not have abated for some time after stopping the medication.”

Breggin’s conclusion: “I have no doubt that Zoloft contributed to Holmes’ escalating violence and that without it he probably would not have committed mass murder.”

Lengthy exposure to SSRI antidepressants brought on Eric Harris’ violence

Concerning Eric Harris, Breggin noted in his recent report that the Columbine shooter did not begin planning his violent assault until he had been on antidepressants for months.

Harris was switched to the SSRI antidepressant Luvox in April 1998, a year before the attack on Columbine High School, and the autopsy toxicology report confirmed it was still in his system at the time of the shooting.

Again, it was the lengthy exposure to Luvox that brought on Harris’ violence, according to Breggin, who noted that the writings in Harris’ journal “grew increasingly bizarre and violent over the period in which he continued to take increasing amounts of Luvox.”

Breggin states that psychiatrists not only failed to detect or prevent the violence perpetrated by Holmes and Harris, but “gave drugs that caused violence or amplified any pre-existing violent tendencies.”

Why are these drugs on the market?

Breggin points out that “careful scrutiny of the FDA testing for drug approval shows that antidepressants do not work any better than placebo, but that they do make many people very mentally disturbed and increase the rate of suicide and violence.”

“Why are these drugs on the market?” he asks.

Breggin concludes: “Curtailing or stopping the use of SSRIs and other antidepressants would vastly diminish an infinite number of aggressive and violent acts committed by individuals taking these drugs….”

If you or someone you know has experienced violent outcomes from taking SSRI antidepressants or any other psychiatric drug, please report it to the FDA by clicking here.  And we want to talk to you about your experience.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Are Psychiatric Drugs Behind The Current Epidemic Of Military Suicides?

Rising right along with the current epidemic of military suicides is the huge increase in the number of psychiatric drug prescriptions written for active military and veterans. soldier

Fact:   Between 2005-2011, military prescriptions for psychiatric drugs increased nearly seven times (682%) – more than 30 times faster than the civilian rate. One in six American service members takes at least one psychiatric drug.

Fact:   There are nearly 50 international drug-regulatory agency warnings that psychiatric drugs – including antidepressants – can cause suicidal thoughts and suicide.

Fact:   In 2012, more active military died by suicide than from combat – nearly one a day.  A total of 273 committed suicide in 2014, and 2015 is on track to post a similar number.

Fact:   Military veterans are committing suicide at the staggering rate of 22 every day.

Fact:   Some 80% of vets labeled with PTSD receive psychiatric drugs; 89% of them are given antidepressants.  A questionnaire used to screen for depression and PTSD is copyrighted to Pfizer, the company that manufactures the antidepressant Zoloft and other psychiatric drugs.

Retired Army Colonel and psychologist Bart Billings says:

 “If you take a look at people who commit suicide, most of those people – I would say as much as 80% – are on some type of psychiatric medication where there’s a black box warning…for suicidality, poor judgment and reasoning, anger and hostility, which can translate to homicide, depression, etc.”

And:

 “In my 47 years of treating people, although I had access to using psychiatric medication, I never recommended a single psychiatric drug. In all these years, I can state unequivocally, I therefore never had a person commit suicide or a homicide while in my care.”

pillpistolWARNING: Anyone wanting to discontinue psychiatric drugs is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

 

“The Hidden Enemy: Inside Psychiatry’s Covert Agenda”

To view the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) documentary detailing how psychiatry uses the military as its testing ground, click here and then click on “Military Documentary.”

If you or someone you know has been harmed by psychiatric drugs or other mental-health treatment, we want to talk to you.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.  We welcome your comments below.