Jordan Peterson has been put on Clonazepam, a popular medication used to prevent and treat anxiety and panic attacks, to help him cope with his wife’s life-threatening ordeal with cancer, but faced unexpected effects from quitting the drug and had to admit himself to a rehab clinic.

US comedian Joe Rogan, a friend and supporter of Jordan Peterson, has offered his sympathy to the Canadian psychologist, professor and champion of free speech, who is said to be suffering from “horrific” withdrawal after getting off anti-anxiety medication.

Speaking on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast over the weekend, stand-up comedian Mark Normand said of Peterson: “He’s one of these guys that you’re like ‘He’s tough as a bull, it’ll be fine,’ but then, you know, everybody’s human.”

Rogan replied that although he had never experienced opiate withdrawal, Peterson was “wise enough to understand his physical limitations.”

“It might actually be a smart thing to check yourself into a rehab with people that know how to deal with it and help you through it,” he added.

Rogan revealed he once took a painkiller, either Percocet or Vicodin, to deal with a knee surgery. He said the experience was terrible and he “hated it”, because the medication made him “really stupid.” “My brain was so numb I’d rather be in pain,” he recounted.

Jordan Peterson’s daughter, health blogger Mikhaila, said in a YouTube video last weekthat her father had checked into a rehab in New York to handle “horrific” physical withdrawal and anxiety after trying to get off the anti-anxiety drug Clonazepam.

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Peterson’s wife of 30 years, Tammy, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he was prescribed the drug to be able to tolerate the stress. Mikhaila said her mother was on the brink of death a number of times but eventually went into remission, prompting Jordan to quit taking his medication. This appeared to be “hell to get off of”, in Mikhaila’s words, and Jordan was forced to seek help from professionals.

Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, rose from obscurity to international fame and infamy in 2016, following a series of videos he posted on YouTube under the title “Professor Against Political Correctness”.

In them, he criticised a bill (which has since become law) that would add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination in Canada. Specifically, the bill would enforce the use of gender-neutral pronouns such as ‘they’, ‘ze’ and ‘zie’, if required by an individual who does not identify as a man or a woman. Peterson refused to use these pronouns if requested by a non-binary student, saying it would amount to compelled speech.

Peterson’s views sparked a nationwide conversation on freedom of speech and gender expression; he has since established himself as a polarising figure, finding many admirers on the right and just as many opponents on the left.

“It’s the best time of your life,” Rogan said of his reputation. “You were an embattled professor fighting against social justice warriors [over] some sort of crazy law that was gonna enforce 198,000 gender pronouns and he was like, ‘Hey, this is crazy. Let’s stop,’ and then he becomes a national celebrity.”

He went on to praise him for making people aware of the “chaos” going on in North American universities with their foray into political correctness.

“As time has gone on, he saw all this coming, he was right… People are radicalising and a lot of it is about compliance,” he concluded.

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