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 Table of Contents    
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 54  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 278-279
The unknown user: Covert medication; my user experience

Founder Member, AMEND Self Help Group for Consumers of Mental Health Services, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication15-Oct-2012


In this article, the author shares his experiences as a user of psychiatric medication administered surreptitiously.

Keywords: Covert medication, user of psychiatric medication, surreptitious drug use

How to cite this article:
Srinivasan T. The unknown user: Covert medication; my user experience. Indian J Psychiatry 2012;54:278-9

How to cite this URL:
Srinivasan T. The unknown user: Covert medication; my user experience. Indian J Psychiatry [serial online] 2012 [cited 2020 Feb 19];54:278-9. Available from:

As a user undergoing rehabilitation under the auspices of a premier mental health institute at Bangalore, India), I had the opportunity to attend the occupational therapy department (OCTD) of the same institution.

It was one of those routine days at the plastic welding unit of the OCTD (to which I was assigned) when a new user joined the team. The gentleman was a resident in the ward (at NIMHANS) for the criminally ill. What was noticeable about him was his repeated question to all and sundry as to whether "God would forgive him?" On being prompted, he explained that he had committed certain unsocial acts when he was unwell (psychotic) and regretted the same. I am sure this gentleman would eventually have been processed through the right channels of the humane Indian legal system for the criminally ill and found his peace somewhere sometime.

What struck me about his story, as more unfortunate than the acts he had committed when unwell, was the fact that he had not been prevented from committing the same. I felt that those who had so callously allowed him to commit these acts should rightly have taken his place in the legal processing that he underwent.

My thoughts immediately went back to the days when I was a noncompliant consumer though luckily without any criminal tendencies. What kept me "afloat" and away from a psychological breakdown at that point of time was the good cuisine I had access to; which in turn (unknown to me) was laced with an adequate dose of anti-psychotics.

On the advice of my psychiatrist, my parents had no choice but to subject me to covert medication, to prevent a relapse/breakdown.

When this news was finally broken to me one day, I felt an immense sense of relief rather than the expected anger, and I thanked my parents (and am grateful to them to this day) for their decision to subject me to this so-called "abuse of human rights". I felt a sense of relief because I realized that my body had already "got used" to the medication and I would not have to go through the dreaded 6-12 weeks (which are more traumatic than the illness if not an illness by itself), when medication is initiated, and the body has to "get used" to the medication for it (the medication) to take effect.

The human rights lobby might raise a hue and cry about covert medication but in my opinion the human rights of the user patients are upheld not by permitting him/her to do what they want to do but rather by preventing them from doing what they ought not to do.

This is best exemplified by my late father, a peace-loving air force officer, who used to justify war as an act of violence meant "to be cruel to be kind".

In the final analysis, I feel covert medication though a human rights "abuse" paradoxically leads to a greater quantum of protection of human rights than what is the so-called "abuses".

This is a humane and just form of treatment and should be used to treat noncompliant patients until such time they see a ray of reason in their otherwise dark world.

Correspondence Address:
Tilak Srinivasan
C-358, Jalvayu Vihar, Kammanahalli Main Road, Kalyan Nagar, Bangalore - 560 043
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5545.102433

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This article has been cited by
1 The unknown user: Covert medication; My user experience
Srinivasan, T.
Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 2012; 54(3): 278-279
2 Covert medication: Do means justify the ends
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Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 2012; 54(3): 203-204
3 On the need to have "rules" to regulate covert medication
Antony, J.T.
Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 2012; 54(3): 266-268
4 Covert medication: Do means justify the ends?
TS Sathyanarayana Rao,Chittaranjan Andrade,RoyAbraham Kallilvayalil
Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 2012; 54(3): 203
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