A recent update on the health of Canadian author and clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson reveals that he is in recovery from his previously reported addiction to benzodiazepines and is suffering from neurological damage, National Post reports.
According to Peterson’s Daughter, Mikhaila, Peterson entered a rehabilitation center in New York in November, after which his condition worsened. The self-help author reportedly suffered from a movement disorder called akathisia — which causes restlessness and an inability to sit still — that pushed him to thoughts of suicide.
“It became apparent that he was experiencing a paradoxical reaction to the medication, meaning the benzos did the opposite of what they’re supposed to do,” Mikhaila said. “These reactions are rare but are not unheard of.”
Peterson eventually enrolled in an alternative treatment program in Russia after North American doctors failed him and he had several close brushes with death. After suffering from pneumonia and being put into an induced coma for eight days, Mikhaila says Peterson has only recently emerged from intensive care.
“He has neurological damage, and a long way to go to full recovery,” National Post reports. “He is taking anti-seizure medication and cannot type or walk unaided, but is ‘on the mend’ and his sense of humour has returned.”
Mikhaila claims that the ordeal has been painful for both Peterson and the family.
“The uncertainty around his recovery has been one of the most difficult and scary experiences we’ve ever had,” she said, although she noted that his condition is improving.
“He’s smiling again for the first time in months,” she said.
Peterson reportedly became dependent on the anti-anxiety drug clonazepam, brand name Klonopin, after using it following an intense autoimmune reaction to food. However, Mikhaila claims physical dependence began in April of last year when her mother was diagnosed with cancer.
Although Peterson’s wife has reportedly recovered, his attempts to quit clonazepam cold turkey did not work. Common withdrawal symptoms include increased heart rate and blood pressure, insomnia, sweating, and agitations. Rarer symptoms include confusion, seizures, delusions. In cases of severe addiction, withdrawal can cause seizures that lead to death.
According to Dr. Michael Krausz, the director of addiction psychiatry at the University of British Columbia’s Institute of Mental Health, benzodiazepine treatment is always tricky and involves slow dosage tapering, CBC News reports. He claims not to be aware of any “superior” or faster “evidence-based” programs in Russia.
Peterson gave an emotional interview last September in which he revealed his struggle with public expectations as well as his wife’s health problems.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.