antipsychotic meds

  1. Dementia patients are being drugged to death

    It's bad enough that up to a third of all dementia patients in nursing homes are given powerful antipsychotic meds despite the fact that they're not approved for dementia.

    But what makes this one far worse -- what makes it a crime in my book -- is that doctors know these drugs can dramatically boost the risk of death in these patients, and they keep giving them out anyway.

    Now, a new look at data on more than 75,000 nursing home patients finds that one antipsychotic drug in particular is even worse than the rest.

    Researchers say Haldol -- aka haloperidol -- can more than double the risk of death in dementia patients, a risk that's even higher when you realize that's not compared to a control group of patients who were given no meds at all.

    It's compared to patients given risperidone, part of a class of meds called atypical antipsychotics. And as a class, these meds are known to increase the risk of death in dementia patients by up to a staggering 70 percent.

    It's like one death risk piled on top of another.

    The researchers behind the new study claim the "safest" drug is Seroquel, but that doesn't make it "safe." None of these drugs are 100% "safe," and there's a reason they haven't been approved for dementia care: They don't work, either.

    There's no evidence these drugs lead to better outcomes or improved symptoms, but nursing homes rely on them anyway because they're great for one thing: Silence.

    These drugs are used almost as tranquilizers for dementia patients that are simply too much to handle or even patients who complain too much.

    Some of the stories I've heard on how these meds are used are outrageous, and you can read more about dementia overmedication abuses here.

    In reality, even the most hard-to-handle dementia patients don't need these drugs, because studies have shown there's a much simpler way to keep them calm and happy.

    It starts with giving them a little more attention, care and sympathy. It might sound basic, but caregivers who pay attention can learn which objects and events trigger certain reactions in dementia patients -- and then learn to minimize them or avoid them completely.

    Combine that approach with a comfortable routine and a calm environment, and you can give dementia patients everything they need without the risks of dangerous and unapproved meds.

    Don't they deserve at least that much?

  2. Tiny tots on dangerous antipsychotics

    Little kids on powerful meds should be about as common as unicorns--and not the ones you'll find painted on nursery walls.

    But alarming new research finds that children 5 years old and under--including tykes as young as 2 years old--are being given some of the most powerful and dangerous drugs in the entire Big Pharma arsenal: antipsychotic meds that in most cases are not even approved for use in young kids.

    In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry found that the number of little kids on powerful antipsychotics has doubled in recent years.

    These drugs should have no place at all in pediatrics... but the researchers found that 1 in 650 5-year-olds was being given these meds between 1999 and 2001. By 2007, that number doubled to 1 in 329. Overall, 1 in 1,300 children was given these meds from 1999 to 2001, rising to 1 in 630 by 2007, according to the study.

    These are the same drugs given to adults to help control powerful psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder--drugs like risperidone, which can turn an adult's life upside down with side effects that range from digestive problems, headaches and heartburn to male breast growth, missed menstrual periods, sexual problems and more.

    These are powerful medications that alter delicate brain chemistry. It's bad enough for adults... but we have no idea what kind of damage they can do to little brains that are still growing and developing.

    Tots given these meds were often diagnosed with developmental disorders, disruptive behavior disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder--overused diagnoses that can often change from doctor to doctor.

    You'd think putting one of these kids on a potent brain drug would be an absolute last resort for the worst cases, and only after everything else has failed.

    You'd think... and you'd be wrong.

    Less than half of these kids given powerful drugs for supposed mental problems received any actual mental health services or even a visit to a shrink, according to the study.

    That's not falling through the gaps--that's a massive hole in the system, pulling in more children every single time they're forced to swallow these needless drugs.

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