Psychedelic drugs have been around and used across the world for many years for medical use, religious ceremonies, as well as recreational use. Restrictions started with the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 limiting use and research of psychedelic drugs along with many others. There’s many forms of Psychedelics, some of the most notable ones are LSD, Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms), Ketamine, MDMA, and DMT. Despite research suggesting otherwise these are all schedule one drugs deemed having no possible medical use by the DEA(Drug Enforcement Administration). In recent years perceptions have been slowly changing and with mental health becoming a growing issue in our society, psychedelics are starting to gain consideration as legitimate medicines for various illnesses.
The negative stigma around most psychedelics has been greatly perpetuated by the fact most are considered schedule one drugs, because of that those who may seek help in forms of psychedelic drugs can be potentially discriminated against by employers, universities, and even health care providers(Marks). Seeking help should never be shunned upon, and with medicines such as antidepressants still being largely ineffective, there needs to be change in the idea and reputation around psychedelic drugs. Doctors should not be afraid of condemnation and malpractice for prescribing a medicine that could possibly help someone cope with their mental illnesses. Also researchers should not have their credibility taken into question just by conducting experiments on psychedelic drugs and have a negative connotation to the label “Psychedelic researcher”. Things need to change, according to Mason Marks “ The cost of doing nothing is high. Suicide, drug overdose, economic losses, and the emotional suffering of patients and those around them, take a heavy toll on society. With few traditional psychiatric drugs in the development pipeline, psychedelics could be one of the best options for improving mental health. However, to realize their potential, the stigma associated with their use must be reduced.” Ignorance is not acceptable when it comes to treating those that could potentially benefit from psychedelics, research needs to be furthered and with positive results people could greatly improve their quality of living.
Would it be nice to have a more vivid less pessimistic outlook on life? Drugs such as LSD and Psilocybin have been said to give mystical or life altering experiences capable of leaving a lasting effect on the human mind. In a population study on psychedelics and mental health, conducted by Michael Lerner and Dr. Michael Lyvers it was found that, “Lifetime LSD use was significantly associated with a lower rate of outpatient mental health treatment and psychiatric medication prescription.” It’s not just the treatment of mental illnesses in which psychedelics can be a positive force, it’s also the prevention of said illnesses and helping to preserve mental health in the United States and around the world going forward. Mental wellness is an unfortunate afterthought in our society today and with drugs such as medical marijuana finally being looked at as having reasonable medical uses at the state level there’s no reason psychedelics cannot have a similar route to legalization. Hurdles are still in the way, despite some states recognizing marijuana as a recreational drug as well as medicinal its still considered a Schedule one substance by the DEA.
Depression is a terrible feeling, having gone through short periods of time in that state of mind I can only imagine the lonely, sad feelings of those who suffer chronically. There are few reliable medications to treat depression and with many seemingly having as many side effects as benefits. Medications such as Cymbalta that have side effects like nausea, drowsiness, difficulty sleeping, diarrhea, as well as others. Psilocybin however has had positive effects while being one of the safer drugs with more deaths from eating the wrong mushrooms and the actions while under the influence. In a trial by Professor Charles Grob, the Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center twelve patients were administered psilocybin. He found in modest doses in some cases there was a significant decrease in depression sometimes lasting several months. And although some of the results have been short lived it’s shown in a controlled environment that it is a safe, potentially therapeutic drug only being held back by federal regulations.
Many psychedelics are thought to be fairly safe with MDMA and ibogaine needing further research. LSD, ketamine, and psilocybin have low toxicity levels and do not have history of dependence and other risk factors(Marks 99). So although some may point out dangers of psychedelics most of the claims are perpetuated by negative stigma and lack of progressive research on the matter of psychedelics. Being afraid of the unknown is normal, however if there is possible benefits for those who suffer of depression or terminally ill cancer patients its unjust to at least explore the possibilities. Saying psychedelics are too dangerous is unacceptable if you accept alcohol and tobacco as safe substances. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) tobacco accounts for 480,00 deaths in the United States each year and 88,000 for excessive alcohol consumption. Both are legal and have no medicinal benefits and are widely accepted. I’m not speaking to condemn alcohol or tobacco yet just to put in perspective the sad reality of our countries perception.
The misunderstood nature in which psychedelics are seen is unfortunate but is a perception that can be changed through research and raising awareness. By going through a similar route of medical marijuana it should seek legalization at the state level for medicinal purposes for trials and further research. Starting at the state level it can have an effect similar to how Colorado jump started legalization of other states such as California, Oregon, and Washington. If positive results yield then can lead towards the rescheduling of psychedelics and perhaps being legalized for recreation in the future. What if psychedelics are the future of mental health medicine? Wouldn’t you want to help lead the psychedelic revolution?
Krebs, Teri S. and Pål-Ørjan Johansen. “Psychedelics and Mental Health: A Population Study.” Plos ONE, vol. 8, no. 8, Aug. 2013, pp. 1-9. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063972. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=90070294&site=ehost-live
This article shows finding from a population study that shows no significant correlation between psychedelic use and mental health problems. The article also shows that Psychedelic use actually shows positive effects on mental health. I will be citing the study information to bolster my argument and provide potential benefits of psychedelic use. This is a academic journal based on the study results.
Lerner, Michael and Michael Lyvers. “Values and Beliefs of Psychedelic Drug Users: A Cross-Cultural Study.” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, vol. 38, no. 2, June 2006, pp. 143-147. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=21640708&site=ehost-live.
This is a cross cultural study between Australia and Israel on the enduring effects of psychedelic drugs by comparing users of psychedelics to those of non psychedelic drugs as well as social drinkers. Findings showed that empathy and coping ability was higher in both drug users but findings could be correlated to said persons personality to begin with. Information found can be used to show the differences between the users of different substances. This is from the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.
Marks, Mason. “Psychedelic Medicine for Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders: Overcoming Social and Legal Obstacles.” New York University Journal of Legislation & Public Policy, vol. 21, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 69-140. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=poh&AN=129689802&site=ehost-live
The issue of mental health is discussed and how many traditional medicines have remain unchanged. Here is detailed how psychedelics are criminalized and how marijuana legalization could potentially provide a roadmap towards a similar goal. It is discussed how to possibly legalize the use of psychedelics giving me a logical basis to for a plan for legalization. This is from the New York Journal of Legislation & Public policy.
Pixler, Lyndsay. “Psychedelic Movement: Healing Trauma through Mdma (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine)-Assisted Authentic Movement Psychotherapy.” Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, vol. 49, no. 2, July 2017, pp. 121-135. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=128140584&site=ehost-live
This article goes about the use of MDMA and the potential benefits it can have on those with (PTSD). Also tells how dance and movement therapy can have great effects if paired with Psychedelic therapy. The information on potential medical applications of MDMA granting credibility to the argument of psychedelics having medical use. This an academic article in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology.
Skocylas, Rachel. “The Resurrection of Psychedelic Psychiatry and Its Role in Addiction Treatment.” UBC Medical Journal, vol. 8, no. 1, Fall2016, pp. 38-39. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=117888943&site=ehost-live. This paper looks at the renewed interest in psychedelics for treatments for addiction and mental health. Also it looks at some of the barriers between furthering research on the psychedelic substances. The outline of the restrictions as well as the overview on its effects on mental health will help support my claims and arguments. This is an academic article from the UBC medical journal.