Stopped Taking Meds

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My doctor wants me in hospital. I am middle aged and morbidly obese. I am also bi polar and have been medicated for the last 11 years. Before medication I was thin and healthy. I was a bit crazy and reckless and sometimes got into trouble. After I was medicated I gained 150 pounds and now have a number of health issues. I was scheduled for weight loss surgery and met with the surgeon 2 days before the surgery. He canceled the surgery because I was too unhealthy and it would be too risky.

I feel like I’m going to die soon and I need to do something drastic. I’ve decided to stop taking all my medication and do what I have to do to restore some of my health. I canceled my appointment with my pdoc and did not reschedule. He called me and said I should not go off my meds and I should go straight to the hospital. Of course I refused because there was no need to go. He has forced me to go to the hospital twice before, against my will. Can he force me to go now because I’m not taking my meds?

A. I do not have enough details about your situation to provide you with a definitive answer about forced hospitalization. Generally speaking, an individual cannot be forcibly hospitalized unless there is strong evidence that they are intending to deliberately end their life or harm others. Individuals typically are hospitalized against their will when it is believed that they are a danger to themselves or to others.

It was a mistake to abruptly stop taking your medication. Your doctor may have suggested going to the hospital because he was concerned about the possible side effects associated with stopping your medicine. Your doctor is correct to be concerned. If you intended to stop taking your medicine, then you should have done so with the assistance of your doctor. Sometimes, abruptly discontinuing medication can lead to illness relapse, among other problems. By not following the advice of your doctor, you are putting yourself at risk for dangerous health consequences.

As part of their medical training, physicians intensely study the body and how medicine affects the body. Consider them experts on the subject. As patients, it is important to work in collaboration with our doctors but they are the experts.

You should take the advice of your doctor and go to the hospital if he deems it to be the most appropriate intervention at this time. At the very least, return to his local office so that he may evaluate your status and monitor your progress. That is especially important because you have a diagnosed serious mental illness. The concern is that the illness symptoms will return and you may require his expertise in knowing how to handle this outcome. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Stopped Taking Meds. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/01/30/stopped-taking-meds/