Dawn Farm’s Approach to Psychotropic Medications

Many Dawn Farm clients report symptoms of depression, anxiety, or sleep disorders. A few things to keep in mind regarding the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders and the use of psychotropic medications:

  • Reliable diagnosis of psychiatric disorders in addicts and alcoholics takes weeks or months, rather than the minutes typically spent with the doctor.
  • It is our anecdotal experience that psychiatric disorders are over-diagnosed in alcoholics and addicts.
  • According to research, most people entering treatment are experiencing symptoms of a mental illness but these symptoms will improve significantly over a period of 3 to 6 weeks without any psychiatric treatment.
    • This 3 to 6 week time frame is the same time frame that we would expect psychotropic drugs to take effect.
    • If a newly abstinent person is placed on medication and improves in 3 to 6 weeks, we would be unable to determine whether the medication or recovery reduced the symptoms.
  • Given the crises that bring people to treatment, profound sadness and anxiety are to be expected. These responses to crisis are not signs of a disorder. Confronting these feelings is an important task in early recovery.

As a client, you will meet with a psychiatric nurse practitioner who is trained in the management of psychiatric disorders and addiction.  During the assessment, all past psychiatric history, including  psychiatric diagnoses and medications will be reviewed.   You  may be encouraged to discontinue or taper  medications that may provide no benefit. This decision will be based on the circumstances of prior diagnoses, response to psychiatric treatment, symptoms, an assessment of your safety, and your ability to participate in treatment.

If you decide to discontinue or taper medications, you will  have access to non-pharmacological effective approaches  such as  cognitive behavioral therapy and personal medicine. If your symptoms worsen or fail to improve, we will perform another review to assess symptoms and re-address medication changes. Discussing medication regimes and suggestions for stopping or tapering meds are always a mutual agreement. 


For more information, please refer to Dawn Farm’s Position on Addiction and Mood Disorders

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