Psychedelics May Improve Mental Health: Let’s Do the Research to Find Out
If there was a low cost drug that could make a major improvement in the symptoms of addiction, depression, and/or PTSD, had no known side-effects (when used in a clinical setting at approved doses) and was needed only once or twice to improve an individual’s condition, wouldn’t you want that drug researched? There are several drugs that seem to have the potential to do just that. They are psychedelics and it is time we learn more about their clinical uses.
Psychedelics were being investigated in the 1950s. But by the 1960s, the drugs were associated with the counterculture, causing these drugs to be stigmatized. Finally, in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, psilocybin mushrooms, MDMA, and LSD became Schedule 1 substances. These drugs were described as having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” It was also stated that these drugs had “potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.” These claims halted the research into their therapeutic potential.
Brad Burge, of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) suggests the problem of stigmatizing these drugs runs deep. He told Medical Daily:
However, it hasn’t been the legality of these drugs that has prevented research into their benefits. “Instead, it’s been the stigma and unwillingness of researchers and regulators to look at Schedule 1 drugs from a scientific perspective that has made funding difficult, and approvals so time-consuming.”
Yet recent research into the safety and efficacy of psychedelics is promising.
[A study] published in 2011, found that only a “modest” dose of psilocybin could lower patients’ trait anxiety levels — their innate tendency to feel anxious — past three months. And it only took two, six-hour sessions to achieve this result. During their sessions, patients were encouraged to lay in a bed for the entire time with their eyes closed and music playing. This ensured they were relaxed and minimized the possibility of a so-called “bad trip.” Although the researchers conceded a higher dose might have been more effective, the study was among the first to test the safety of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Then last year, the first study in over 40 years to test LSD in a psychotherapeutic setting found that the drug, when administered with a psychologist on hand, could reduce anxiety by 20 percent — these effects persisted up until the 12-month follow-up.
These results are promising. More research should be done. If the results of continued research are found to be consistent, the use of psychedelics for the treatment of addiction, depression, PTSD, and anxiety could be game changing, providing real hope of long-term help for those who suffer from a variety of mental disorders.