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Relapse in Chronic Schizophrenics following Abrupt Withdrawal of Tranquilizing Medication

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 January 2018

Robert F. Prien
Central NP Research Laboratory, VA Hospital, Perry Point, Maryland 21902
Jonathan O. Cole
Boston State Hospital, 591 Morton Street, Boston, Massachusetts, 02124
Naomi F. Belkin§
The Biometric Laboratory, The George Washington University, 1145 19th Street, N.W. Room 618, Washington, D.C., 20036


Physicians are often faced with the problem of determining whether long-stay schizophrenics require continuous treatment with tranquillizers. Prolonged ingestion of ataractics has both physical and economic disadvantages. Recent reports on oculo-cutaneous changes (3, 13, 20, 27, 28), persistent dyskinesia (6, 18) and sudden deaths (16, 25) have focused attention on the potential dangers of prolonged use of tranquillizing medication. On the other hand, discontinuation of medication may lead to recurrence of acute psychotic behaviour. The literature on drug withdrawal provides no solution to the dilemma. The results from drug discontinuation studies are complex and contradictory. Some investigators report extremely high relapse rates while others report little deterioration even when drugs are withdrawn for long periods of time. A brief review of the literature will give some indication of the contradictory nature of results.

Copyright © Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1969 

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