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What the psychiatrist said when I told him I wanted to get off Effexor

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

June 28, 2024

or those who haven't noticed, I have somewhat strong feelings about issues related to psychoactive drugs, especially when it comes to the psychiatric pill mill and the war on drugs. (No, seriously. You'd be surprised!) And yet I am always trying to keep an "open mind." That's why I went into my new psychiatrist's office yesterday with the firm intention of listening to everything he said, without cutting him off or rolling my eyes. I would raise neither my eyebrows nor my voice. I was going to state my own point of view first, of course, but then I was going to "stand down" and actually listen. In this way, I would learn what the "party line" was in present-day psychiatry and just how open its votaries were to change.

Historically speaking (which is to say over the last 20+ years), these in-person visits had just been a pro forma requirement for me to continue receiving "my meds." The psychiatrist would weigh me with my shoes on, apologize for the notorious imprecision of the scale, guide me into the confession booth - er, the psychiatrist's office - and then give me the 10-question form to find out how well I was sleeping at night and whether I was contemplating suicide. (I always wanted to answer that latter question as follows: "Yes, whenever I think about the fact that the Drug War has turned me into an eternal patient by shunting me off onto dependence-causing Big Pharma drugs.") To be fair, however, this psychiatrist skipped the humiliating 10-question quiz entirely. But I still threw him a curveball when the conversation - or rather his monologue - came around to the subject of how I had been feeling since my last office visit, just six months ago.

I wanted to get off Effexor, I told him.

His response reminded me of the incredulous reaction that Josef K. received when he announced that he was going to fire his lawyer and represent himself in Kafka's "The Trial." I recall the psychiatrist saying something like, "Oh, don't do that," which irritated me a little, to be honest, but I soldiered on, without so much as rolling one single eyeball. In retrospect, his attitude seemed to be: "If it's not broken, don't fix it." I say this based on his subsequent praise for Effexor as an antidepressant and the fact that I was not reporting any psychological or physical problems. I realized, however, that the only way I could protest this misplaced sanguinity on his part would be to reference a bunch of psychological and philosophical considerations that I could never conjure up coherently on the fly: for instance, the fact that I abhor the materialist program of improving mentality through reductively-informed surgical strikes at brain chemistry, based as it is on the false idea that human beings are interchangeable widgets when it comes to treating their emotional lives.

I also believe that it's absurd to remain on dependence-causing materialist-designed drugs in the year 2024, given all that we have learned about the curative powers of natural medicines like psilocybin1, San Pedro Cactus2 and ayahuasca3 - a list of life-changers that is sure to keep growing as the world finally learns to reject the anti-scientific idea that drugs can be voted "good" or "bad" without regard for context of use.

Fortunately, I realized that it would be worse than useless to try to argue these points in a half-hour session with a professional who had been educated in the materialist tradition, especially given my determination to keep this meeting friendly. So I soldiered on by explaining the details of my proposed protocol for getting off of Effexor.

"I have a theory about how I can get off Effexor in one year. It would involve compounding my prescription such that each successive pill that I take contains only 364/365th as much Effexor as its predecessor. During this year, I would be using psilocybin, not just in macrodoses but in microdoses, because there is ample evidence from user reports that such medicine can inspire change and fortitude, especially when used in conjunction with the sorts of empathic human guides that I intend to employ in this protocol. See more from Paul Stamets himself on the promise of psilocybin microdosing4."

The psychiatrist responded so politely and in such a melodious voice that I actually thought he was making sense at the time.

He told me that he had never heard of such a thing, that he had never heard of compounding being used in such a way. He then told me that his preferred procedure would be to immediately drop my daily 225 mg dose by 37.5 mg for three weeks and then drop it by another 37.5 mgs after that. He warned me that I may have what some people call "brain zaps" and tingling sensations, etc., but this was normal and that I would be just fine. The worst problem, he said, is that your depression could return during this time. Naturally, I would require additional appointments during this withdrawal process to make sure that these relatively large dosage decreases were not causing me problems.

What could I say? I had determined not to argue with the guy and besides, he truly sounded like he knew what he was talking about.

I only realized the uselessness of his answers that night as I lay in bed thinking.

He was not making sense at all! He completely ignored the obvious psychological reasons for reducing the drug slowly and steadily with compounding: it was precisely to AVOID the brain zaps and the return of depression. Nor did he place any store in the value of plant medicine to buoy my attitude during the withdrawal process. Drugs like psilocybin, etc., are still being studied, he said, and their usefulness has not been determined.

Of course, in 20-20 hindsight, I should have responded as follows:

"Their usefulness has not been determined by materialist science, perhaps, but indigenous people around the world have known such medicines to be effective for tens of thousands of years. The problem is that materialists are psychologically challenged. They still cannot even figure out if laughing gas could help the depressed5. Even the Reader's Digest figured out that laughing was the best medicine, over a century ago. Surely such drug use would at least be better than suicide or electroshock therapy! And don't get me started on the many elating and inspiring substances synthesized by Alexander Shulgin, none of which turn the user into a patient for life6. Such substances would HAVE to help me, psychologically speaking, to make the tapering routine WORK, by helping me wrap my mind around the process and inwardly commit to a Big Pharma-free life."

But it was just as well that I kept quiet and let the psychiatrist talk. Now I better understand the anti-patient nature of the psychiatric party line and why I need to stop being dependent on psychiatrists altogether.

PS I forgot to mention: I asked the psychiatrist what I would do when the dosage got down to the 37.5 mg capsule, given that 37.5 is the smallest capsule that pharmaceutical companies make for Effexor. He said "No problem. You can just open the 37.5 capsules and count the itty-bitty pilules inside until you get the dosage that you want."

WHAT? Surely, that's what compounding pharmacies are for, to count the itty-bitty pilules!

Conclusion: When psychiatrists tell you the best way to get off of Effexor, they mean the best way for THEM as a psychiatrist, not for you as a patient.


1 Ancient History of Psilocybin Mushroom Use, MycoMeditations, 2020 (up)
2 My Experience With San Pedro in Peru - Shamanic Healing and Plant Medicines, Revitalize From the Inside Out, 2019 (up)
3 Tanner, Carlos, Ayahuasca Foundation Blog, Ayahuasca Foundation, (up)
4 The Treasure Called the Psilocybes: Paul Stamets, Science and Nonduality, 2019 (up)
5 Can Laughing Gas Help People with Treatment Resistant Depression?, Forbes Magazine, 2021 (up)
6 Quass, Brian, Alexander Shulgin: American Hero, 2022 (up)

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

Prohibition is a crime against humanity. It forces us to use shock therapy on the severely depressed since we've outlawed all viable alternatives. It denies medicines that could combat Alzheimer's and/or render it psychologically bearable.
For those who want to understand what's going on with the drug war from a philosophical point of view, I recommend chapter six of "Eugenics and Other Evils" by GK Chesterton.
The Holy Trinity of the Drug War religion is Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and John Belushi. "They died so that you might fear psychoactive substances with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."
"I can take this drug that inspires me and makes me compassionate and teaches me to love nature in its byzantine complexity, or I can take Prozac which makes me unable to cry at my parents' funeral. Hmm. Which shall it be?" Only a mad person in a mad world would choose SSRIs.
The DEA should be tried for crimes against humanity. They have been lying about drugs for 50 years and running interference between human beings and Mother Nature in violation of natural law, depriving us of countless potential and known godsends in order to create more DEA jobs.
It's no wonder that folks blame drugs. Carl Hart is the first American scientist to openly say in a published book that even the so-called "hard" drugs can be used wisely. That's info that the drug warriors have always tried to keep from us.
What bothers me about AI is that everyone's so excited to see what computers can do, while no one's excited to see what the human mind can do, since we refuse to improve it with mind-enhancing drugs.
We won't know how hard it is to get off drugs until we legalize all drugs that could help with the change. With knowledge and safety, there will be less unwanted use. And unwanted use can be combatted creatively with a wide variety of drugs.
How else will they scare us enough to convince us to give up all our freedoms for the purpose of fighting horrible awful evil DRUGS? DRUGS is the sledgehammer with which they are destroying American democracy.
This is the problem with trusting science to tell us about drugs. Science means reductive materialism, whereas psychoactive drug use is all about mind and the human being as a whole. We need pharmacologically savvy shaman to guide us, not scientists.
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