Right now, as I go through my own medical misadventure I have the utmost empathy for Jordan Peterson
Peterson seeks ’emergency’ drug detox treatment in Russia
7 February, 2020
Peterson’s family says he has sought “emergency” drug detox
treatment in Russia, after several failed attempts to overcome his
dependence on a potent anti-anxiety medication.
controversial University of Toronto psychology professor and
internationally famous self-help guru is said to have been in a
Moscow hospital for the past month, recovering from both the
“incredibly gruelling” treatment and a severe case of
had to spend four weeks in the ICU in terrible shape, but, with the
help of some extremely competent and courageous doctors, he
survived,” his daughter Mikhaila Peterson said in an online
video, posted Friday evening. “The uncertainty around his
recovery has been one of the most difficult and scary experiences
we’ve ever had.”
57-year-old professor has been out of the public eye since September,
when it was first disclosed by his daughter that he was seeking
treatment for his dependence on clonazepam, a benzodiazepine
tranquilizer that is often prescribed to patients with panic issues.
family says he had been taking the drug for years to mitigate
lingering anxiety following a severe autoimmune reaction to food. His
dependence reportedly started last spring after doctors increased his
dosage to help him cope with stress as his wife Tammy battled kidney
WATCH- Mikhaila Peterson gives an update on her father’s health.
the new video, Mikhaila Peterson said her father’s attempts to wean
himself off the drug have left him in “unbearable discomfort”
over the past eight months, as he experienced withdrawal symptoms and
akathisia — a type of movement disorder she described as
“incredible, endless, irresistible restlessness, bordering on
to medical literature, the symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal can
include agitation, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating
and insomnia. In some cases, patients also experience seizures,
confusion and delusions.
decision to bring him to Russia was made in extreme desperation, when
we couldn’t find any better option,” his daughter said,
referencing “several” failed treatment attempts in North
American hospitals, where doctors tried to slowly taper Peterson off
the medication. The nature of the therapy that Peterson has been
receiving in Moscow isn’t clear. And his daughter declined to provide
more details when contacted by CBC News.
family has put a stop to any more information,” she wrote. “When
dad’s ready, he’ll start talking about details.”
Michael Krausz, the director of addiction psychiatry at the
University of British Columbia’s Institute of Mental Health, says the
treatment for benzodiazepine addiction is difficult, regardless of
where it takes place.
always have the same of amount unpleasant side-effects,” he
said. “You would taper down …You would reduce the dose from
two to four weeks until people are abstinent.”
he wonders about what might be on offer in Russia.
not aware of any superior, or any say, evidence-based ultra-rapid
programs,” he said.
rise as a polarizing public figure began in the fall of 2016, when he
gained notoriety for his vocal opposition to a University of Toronto
policy that required teachers to address students by their gender
pronoun of choice. He quickly developed a global following via his
media appearances and YouTube channel, which now boasts 2.52 million
subscribers. His 2018 self-help book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote
to Chaos, has sold millions of copies around the world, and has made
the professor a wealthy man.
Peterson’s success has come with a cost. In an emotional interview
last September, filmed just before he first entered rehab, Peterson
told fellow National Post columnist Rex Murphy that he had been
suffering under the weight of public expectations and his wife’s
become opened up to the trouble that people have in a way that far
exceeds even what I experienced as a clinical psychologist,”
Peterson said, as he trembled and wiped away tears.
accolades and fame were little compensation, he said.
funny thing is, that it doesn’t feel good. And that might be a
reflection of my general state of mind, which is very … unsettled
at the moment,” Peterson explained
Toronto filmmakers, Patricia Marcoccia and Maziar Ghaderi, started
shooting a documentary about Peterson in 2015, when he was still a
little-known academic. Their film, Shut Him Down: The Rise of Jordan
Peterson, captures his rapid and sometimes uncomfortable ascension.
such a big change in what his life was like,” Marcoccia said in
an interview Friday. “And I think another aspect of it is that,
you know, Jordan doesn’t like having these really adversarial
conversations with journalists … He said to us in the past that it
would take him a day to recover from that.
people can take being hated better than others. I think it’s
something that’s been particularly difficult for him,” she
continued. “And then, of course, last spring when his wife was
diagnosed with cancer, I think that was just the final straw.”
and Ghaderi last spoke with Peterson in the fall, when he called them
from rehab to hear how audiences were reacting as they toured with
said Peterson’s fans were incredibly sympathetic after news of his
addiction issues broke.
think in probably every single Q&A that we had after the film,
people asked how he was doing,” said Marcoccia. “And for
the most part, what what I saw in people’s reactions was just that
they were very empathetic and hoped that he would take the time that
he needs to recover from all of this, because they realize that it’s
been such a crazy time in his life.”
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her video, Mikhaila Peterson said her father is “on the mend,”
but will need a lengthy period of recovery.
improving, and is off the horrible medication. His sense of humour is
back. He’s smiling again for the first time in months,” she
there are indications that Peterson may still have significant
challenges to overcome.
National Post, which regularly publishes Peterson’s opinion columns —
the latest one last November — reports that the professor spent
eight days in a medically induced coma in Moscow in an effort to
fight off his lung infection.
has suffered neurological damage, and cannot type or walk unaided, at
present, the paper says.