Something to Think About
Drugs have a bad ring to them. When one thinks of them, an image of DARE, bad high school kids and people in prison come to mind. This is because we have been conditioned by society to believe that drugs are bad. We have been turned off by the idea of their consumption and view them as dangerously destructive. But when it comes to alcohol and cigarettes, “Please! It’s on me this time.” Have you heard of psilocybin mushrooms? We will briefly mention them below.
With ketamine approved for severe depression and clinical research trials underway around the world, it begs the question, “Are drugs the new mental health tool?” We are not talking about recreational use such as what we’re seeing with cannabis. We are referring to medicinal use of drugs under professionally-controlled medical environments. Can marijuana, psilocybin, LSD, DMT, ketamine and others be used effectively to treat mental health conditions? Many suffer from alcoholism, treatment-resistant depression and anxiety with no alleviation by conventional medicine.
The Evidence on Psilocybin Mushrooms
Psilocybin was once used in the field of psychiatry in the 1950s but was banned after the hippy subculture broke loose. Timothy Leary, a clinical psychologist at Harvard during the 1960s, promoted LSD to the masses. This encouraged the hippy subculture to indulge in hallucinogens, which the U.S. federal government saw as a threat. It was then that all hallucinogens were banned and classified as Schedule I drugs with no medical value. Ever since, the research on hallucinogens has been minimal. But in the last decade or so, psilocybin, DMT and LSD have reentered university labs for the study of various mental disorders.
In particular, psilocybin has been studied at UCLA, NYU and at Johns Hopkins for treatment-resistant depression and anxiety. Patients with treatment-resistant depression have failed multiple trials of 2-3 antidepressants. The results with psilocybin have been amazing. Six to nine months after the clinical trials started, the participants reported that their depression and anxiety had been greatly alleviated. What conventional medicine failed to perform in a lifetime, psilocybin treated in only two sessions. It’s believed that psilocybin helps rewire the brain by shutting off bad pathways and creating new ones.
It’s also believed that the hallucinatory experience that psilocybin provides helps patients access their unconscious mind. Traumatic experiences and sources of depression are often stored in the unconscious mind. The point of psychodynamic psychotherapy is to gain access to the unconscious mind and encounter these powerful sources of depression. The problem with psychotherapy is that it’s a lengthy process and many depressed patients don’t have the strength to endure it. But with psilocybin, the hallucinatory experience is so powerful, that patients are forced to encounter their unconscious in that one session.
The Future of Psychiatry?
I hope I sparked a new curiosity in you. Now it’s your turn to do your research and discover whether drugs have the potential to provide mental health benefits. Are we doing our due diligence by properly researching these compounds for therapeutic use, or is this just another excuse to legalize them and get high? I personally believe that psilocybin needs to be further explored for depression and anxiety, MDMA for PTSD and Ketamine for depression. Why not include more tools in our medicinal kit that can potentially help humanity by treating mental illness? After all, a drug is considered illegal because the government says so. This does not mean that they do not have medical value.
The same potential that psilocybin is demonstrating now for depression, was similarly demonstrated in the 1950s. Why did we have to waste 50 years before research was reintroduced? Were these exotic compounds intentionally withheld from the masses for reasons unbeknownst to us? Perhaps these compounds’ hallucinatory effects, heightened perceptual interpretations and insightful nature can help us defeat mental illness? Maybe these compounds help us see the truth in between the lines? Why do we even have to seek the truth? Shouldn’t it be available without question?
One important point to mention is the future of these compounds in society. As hallucinogens continue to gain popularity, several cities in the U.S. have already decriminalized psilocybin. The question remains, “Do we push for legalization or keep these compounds as medicine only?” A lot of pros and cons of legalization would have to be properly hashed out before we enter this territory. Let’s revisit history and remind ourselves how hallucinogenic research compounds became mainstream, leading to their scheduled ban. What was meant to stay in the lab was sprinkled onto the masses, turning them into Mario Kart characters surfing on stare trails while eating Skittles candy. With Timothy Leary earning reputations such as, “a hero of American consciousness”, this surely pissed off the federal government of the United States. So much for psilocybin mushrooms.
The Trippy Ban of Psilocybin Mushrooms
And so they were banned and immediately dropped out of university research labs. Perhaps this time, let’s hold off on legalization and let’s give space to where space is due; mental health treatment. After all, if we’re motivated to help humanity, let’s at least begin with those who can benefit medically. Recreational use may certainly have its mind-expanding adventures, sparking creativity and the earning of newfound knowledge, but medicinal should come first. Let’s allow the institutions to work with the federal government at legalizing these medicinal tools and providing them as an additional avenue for mental health treatment. But to see both medicinal use and recreational use legalized at the same time; it just might be too big of a hit for the masses to handle.
Psilocybin mushrooms. Look up the research and discover the truth.
Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)