Psychiatric Medications and Divorce

If pharmaceuticals are playing a central role in your divorce, it is critically important that your family law attorney fully appreciates not only the role pharmaceuticals play in creating the discord in your marriage but how to factor pharmaceuticals into your divorce proceedings. Clarke Logan Young Law Offices understands how threatening prescription drug use can be to your family and marriage. As the quarterback of your case, we can quickly access the situation and retain the services of a knowledgeable psychiatrist who can serve as an expert witness–and, in addition, treat the client/patient successfully.

A psychiatrist who is an expert in psychopharmacology can help clients navigate the side effects and withdrawal symptoms of antidepressants and benzodiazepines while, at the same time, working with your attorney to preserve and increase your custody time with your children. If handled correctly, the court can be guided into working with the addicted, chemically dependent, or drug “allergic” spouse who is sincerely motivated to reclaim his or her life.

Divorces caused by addiction to, or dependency on, mind- and mood-altering prescription drugs is on the rise in California and across the United States. Antidepressants like Citalopram (Celexa, Cipramil), Escitalopram (Lexapro, Cipralex, Seroplex, Lexamil). Fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, Symbyax), Fluvoxamine (Luvox), Paroxetine (Paxil, Aropax), Sertraline (Zoloft), Vilazodone (Viibryd) as well as anti-anxiety medications like Xanax, Clonazepam, Buspar, Diazepam, Paxil, Lorazepam, Zoloft, Fluoxetine and Lexapro, and hundreds of other prescription medications for other conditions as varied as Attention Deficit Disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sleep disorders are major contributing factors in the rise in the divorce rate.

Increasingly, parties complain bitterly and loudly in court about their spouse’s frightening personality and behavioral changes and the adverse effects those changes have on their children. In some cases, one or both parties come to realize that these uncharacteristic changes in behavior are the negative side effects of their psychiatric medications. Atypical behaviors include verbal abuse, communication breakdowns, loss of intimacy, job loss, and domestic violence–all attributable to the ingestion of prescribed drugs. In many cases, a spouse who has never had any history of abuse of any kind--let alone acted out violently--exhibits aberrational behaviors that coincide with the ingestion of antidepressants or anti-anxiety prescriptions, or both. Incredibly, it is not uncommon for doctors to prescribe three to five medications simultaneously (“pharmaceutical cocktails”). Psychiatrists frequently prescribe new drugs to treat the negative side effects caused by a medication they previously prescribed for an unrelated condition.

The side effects of “harmaceuticals” oftentimes outweigh the touted benefits of the prescribed drug(s), but patients are not adequately informed about the likelihood or severity of negative, mid- and long-term health issues caused by the drugs they are taking. When a spouse who has never experienced, for example, suicidal ideation in his or her entire life suddenly threatens suicide and takes steps to make good on that threat, it is time to re-evaluate the prescribed “cocktail”.

Sadly, we are living during an era when pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors are not being held accountable for marketing substances that have not been proven safe. First, the truth is drug manufacturers and doctors know next to nothing about negative side effects. One study published in December 2010 entitled “Prescription Drugs Associated with Reports of Violence Towards Others” found that 31 prescription drugs actually caused an increase in violence. This study concluded:

“Acts of violence towards others are a genuine and serious adverse drug event associated with a relatively small group of drugs. Varenicline, which increases the availability of dopamine, and antidepressants with serotonergic effects were the most strongly and consistently implicated drugs.”

Second, it is in the interests of drug manufacturers to conceal negative test results so that their competitors continue to waste money conducting redundant studies on ineffectual drugs. Hardly a month goes by without a pharmaceutical manufacturer being publicly exposed for having suppressed negative tests results that show a particular drug is either not effective for treating the condition for which it was prescribed, or has mid- or long-term side effects that devastate the patient’s health, quality of life, and/or life expectancy. Here are three articles describing studies which found that pharmaceutical manufacturers suppressed negative test results:

Third, no psychiatrist can predict with scientific certainty how a particular drug will affect a particular patient. “Here, try this and let me know how you feel. If it doesn’t work, we’ll try something else”, is the psychiatrist’s mantra. Who has not heard their doctor say this. Fourth, no one knows the negative sides effect of “pharmaceutical cocktails”. Your guess is as good as anyone else’s, but one thing is certain: the side effects are not good for your health–and, in time, will most likely be a contributing cause of death.

Aside from the grossly understated and frequently grotesque negative health effects the pharmaceutical industry is having on individual Americans of all ages, the devastating effects prescription drugs are having on families is equally devastating although ignored. If your dream of marriage and family is being shattered by precription drug use, please give us a call regardless of where you live.