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‘A very individual thing’ : findings on drug therapy in psychiatry from the perspective of Australian consumers
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Pamela Mcgrath, Michael Bouwman, V Kalyanasundaram
Ten participants were interviewed as to their experiences which led to their recovery from mental illness. A variety of both positive and negative experiences relating to the use and misuse of drug therapy reported by these consumers highlights the much personalised nature of recovery. In particular, the timeliness of the drug therapy, the duration, type and dosage of prescribed drugs, and even whether prescribed drugs were used at all, were all factors reported to impact on recovery. The findings highlight many negative aspects of the drug imperative within the Australian psychiatric system. Participants indicated that in their experience the mainstay of psychiatry is the administration of drugs which are given often without counselling, with little information and scant support to either the patient or their family. Individual resistance to drug therapy is seen as experimental and not easily tolerated within the mental health system: a system described as disempowering, offering scant therapeutic choices and not respecting individual difference. A minority of participants do value the contribution that drug therapies can make to control the worst aspects of their mental illness. Also, drug treatment is seen as particularly important during a psychotic episode. The findings contrast the use of drug therapy as a means of ‘risk management’ with a consumer oriented self-driven recovery model. To explore therapeutic strategies other than drug treatments, the consumer needs to be highly motivated, mindful of the family consequences, and have the trust and support of a sympathetic psychiatrist.