Millions of people around the world are currently trying to come off psychiatric drugs but finding it extremely difficult because of withdrawal effects which are often severe and persistent, and because there is so little support available to come off the drugs slowly and safely.

The 40 international experts attending this weekend’s meeting (end of September 2019) of the International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal (www.iipdw.org) voted to endorse the  recommendations of the recent Public Health England [PHE] review of ‘Dependence and withdrawal associated with prescribed medicinesand pledged to try to implement them in the 15 countries they are from, and beyond. These include:

  1. Enhancing clinical guidance and the likelihood it will be followed.
  2. Improving information for patients and carers on prescribed medicines, and increasing informed choice and shared decision-making between clinicians and patients.
  3. Improving the support available from the healthcare system for patients experiencing dependence on, or withdrawal from, prescribed medicines.
  4. Further research on the prevention and treatment of dependence on, and withdrawal from, prescribed medicines.

Participants agreed that besides antidepressants and benzodiazepines other psychoactive drugs, e.g. antipsychotics, should be included. They also agreed with PHE that ‘the goal is to make sure that our healthcare system builds awareness and enhanced decision-making for better patient treatment and support. These recommendations are just the beginning. All parts of the healthcare system and the general population will need to engage with this complex problem and work together to find solutions’.

The meeting decided to hold a large international conference in Iceland in 2020.

The meeting organiser, Dr Carina Håkansson (Psychotherapist, Sweden), commented:

‘All our hopes were exceeded. So many plans, local and international, emerged from this gathering of inspirational experts and activists. The time for change on this issue has clearly arrived’ carina@utvidgaderum.se

Participants commented:

‘Psychiatric drugs destroyed 10 years of my life. I am so happy that we are finally addressing this issue of how to get off these drugs, which effects literally millions of people.’    Olga Runciman, Denmark (Psychologist, IIPDW Board Member) +45 27851003, orunciman@gmail.com


‘Doctors should be able to prescribe the tapering medication strips I demonstrated at the meeting, which are required to stop safely. This is crucially important’. Dr Peter Groot, Netherlands (UMC University Hospital, Utrecht) +31 622290233  p.c.groot@ziggo.nl


‘As an NHS Psychiatrist, I am aware how many lives are ruined by over-medication. We need to recognise that there are alternatives which are more powerful and less harmful.’ Dr Rex Haigh, UK (Berkshire) +44 7768 546983 rex.haigh@gmail.com


‘The strong commitment all weekend, from researchers, clinicians and people with experience of psychiatric drugs was inspiring. The denying and minimizing of psychiatry and the drug companies will no longer prevail’. Professor John Read, UK (University of East London, IIPDW Board Member) +44 7944 853 783  john@uel.ac.uk


“I return to Brazil with a willingness to help the process of psychiatric reform in my country vigorously address the damage that the alliance between psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry has done to our population.” Professor Fernando Freitas (FIOCRUZ, Member of IIPDW Faculty) + 55 21 2260 9200 ffreitas@ensp.fiocruz.br

Below you can hear an audio interview with IIPDW founder Dr Carina Håkansson and IIPDW Board Member Professor John Read.


The International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal (IIPDW) was created to respond to a glaring need in mental health: to develop ways for helping people withdraw from psychiatric drugs.

Mental health has failed to provide support to people who want to reduce or withdraw from their psychiatric drugs. Often, people are simply told it is a bad idea, and thus are left to try to reduce or withdraw without the support they need.

Indeed, psychiatric drugs have been prescribed for 60 years, there is little research that has been conducted on how to withdraw from these drugs. Most of the withdrawal studies that have been conducted have involved abrupt drug withdrawal, and even in studies where the drugs were more gradually withdrawn, there was no effort to identify the needed supports.

The mission of our institute is to bring together practice-based knowledge and research data to fill in this gap. Our goal is to gather such knowledge and disseminate it to patients, family members, professional helpers, professional organizations, and throughout society.

By donating you will be helping to add to the growing call for a global response to the issues of psychiatric drug withdrawal and iatrogenic harm.

IIPDW Board member John Read contributes to a piece in the Scottish Herald written by Health Correspondent Helen McArdle.

UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Updates Antidepressant Withdrawal Guidance

How to get help if you’re hooked on antidepressants: GPs must now warn people they face MONTHS of withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking depression pills – here’s how to do it safely

Auður Axels­dóttir interviews Magnus P. Hald

Podcast interview with Dr Carina Håkansson and Professor John Read

Fears UK Could Follow the US into Opioid Crisis

Royal College of Psychiatrists Changes its Position on Antidepressant Withdrawal

Maund et al.:Managing Antidepressant Discontinuation: A Systematic Review.

Do we need knowledge about withdrawing from psyhiatric drugs? If yes, what kind of knowledge and for whom?

Workshop in Norway, Januar 17, 2019 with Carina Håkansson, Magnus Hald and Ottar Ness among others.

Please consider signing this petition:
Letter to Danish Minister of Health against dismissal of Peter Gotzsche

Letter to the Danish Minister of Health from the Danish Hearing Voices Network

Read et al.: How many of 1829 antidepressant users report withdrawal effects or addiction?

James Davies & John Read: A systematic review into the incidence, severity and duration of antidepressant withdrawal effects: Are guidelines evidence-based?

Robert Whitaker: The Cochrane Collaboration Has Failed Us All

CEP declares its support for Professor Peter Gøtzsche

IIPDW is co-sponsoring an International survey on neuroleptics/antipsychotics withdrawal


Don’t hesitate to contact us at info@iipdw.org to get to know more about our work.

Also find us on Twitter and Facebook.


  • Develop research and practice-based knowledge that will facilitate safe reduction of and withdrawal from psychiatric drugs.
  • Contribute to evidence-based practices for reduction of and withdrawal from psychiatric drugs, and facilitate their inclusion in general practice guidelines.
  • Support the human right to informed choice with regard to psychiatric drugs.
  • Promote practices that help families, friends, and practitioners support safe reduction of and withdrawal from psychiatric drugs, and take into account relational and social aspects essential to this process.