The world of psychopharmacology could reach into the past for new treatments of mental illness. According to a new study, the use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD and magic mushrooms does not increase the risk of developing mental illnesses.
While no link was found in risk, the researchers found correlation on a number of factors between the use of the drugs and decreased mental health problems. Before you rush to the darknet for your fix, the study could not exclude instances of adverse effects on the individual. Think bad trip and the like.
The study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, analyzed the data of 130,000 randomly selected participants – including 19,000 who had used psychedelic drugs. The data set was from the US National Health Survey, conducted from 2008-2011.
“Over 30 million US adults have tried psychedelics and there just is not much evidence of health problems,” says author and clinical psychologist Pål-Ørjan Johansen.
“Drug experts consistently rank LSD and psilocybin mushrooms as much less harmful to the individual user and to society compared to alcohol and other controlled substances,” concurs co-author and neuroscientist Teri Krebs.
Dangers of Psychedelic Drugs
While the research is compelling, the authors are not willing to discount the risk to individuals. Researchers cannot exclude the possibility that use of psychedelics might have a negative effect on mental health for some individuals or groups, perhaps counterbalanced at a population level by a positive effect on mental health in others.”
The authors do say their findings, as well as others, are conclusive enough to show the prohibition of the substances cannot be justified for the public good.
What is needed is further research into using the drugs to create novel treatments for various mental illnesses. If a patient does not respond to current medications, this line should be open to physicians to explore eventually.
That doesn’t mean patients should jump on the Internet or hit their local drug dealer. Illicit drugs are oftentimes laced with other drugs, causing more adverse reactions.
The magic mushroom is actually Psilocybe cubensis, a rather innocuous variety of mushroom. Brown and white, the scientific name roughly translates to ‘bald head.’ It may not look like much, but ingesting the mushroom can change your world.
Hyperconnectivity. While most users describe a ‘mind-melting’ feeling, the psychoactive ingredient, psilocybin, actually boosts the brain’s connectivity. That’s according to a a 2014 study at Kings College. Participants underwent MRIs that showed the connectivity maps. Researchers theorize this explains the dreamy state a user experiences.
Kills fear. A reason why psychopharmacology has become interested in psychedelic drugs is its ability to kill fear. The psychoactive ingredient was given to mice in a study, and it showed the ability to dampen the fear response. Additional research is being done to test its effects on PTSD patients.
Easily the most famous of psychedelic drugs, LSD is a potent, mood-changing chemical. Often referred to as acid, it is found in the ergot fungus that grows on rye and other grains.
It is where the term ‘trip’ comes from as the user disconnects from reality for periods of time lasting as long as 12 hours.
This research, along with others, continues the pushback against this, especially for patients with severe mental illnesses. if they aren’t responding to current treatment protocols, every effort should be made to exhaust avenues of treatment.
Does everyone need psychedelic drugs? Hell no, but for those that have no alternative to return to a normal life, it could be a trip worth taking.
Image Credits: Wikipedia
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