By Gisel Flores
In present society, there still remains a large misunderstanding of psychedelic substances and the effects of them on the human body, especially the brain. Psychedelics are a type of drug that alter the state of one’s mind, causing them to hallucinate. Due to the common misunderstandings of these drugs, they can often lead people to stray further from the truth, due to the fear of misinformation spread about these substances. Only with proper unbiased information, one can find that psychedelics have been found to have medicinal benefits that allow people to heal from trauma, help cope with mental illnesses and could even cure one’s substance abuse.
Psilocybin mushrooms, most commonly referred to as the street name “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms,” have been used for hundreds, even thousands, of years, all throughout the world. From evidence of cave paintings in Spain that showed these psychedelic mushrooms from six-thousand years ago to ancient statues of these same mushrooms found and used by the Aztecs, Mayans, and other cultures, these mushrooms were often used during religious ceremonies to “communicate” with the spirits that these ancient civilizations believed in. Psilocybin mushrooms are known to be one of the oldest recreational drug that has been seen and even referenced through history. Research today shows that the psilocybin could help patients that suffer from cancer related psychological stress and anxiety according to the American Psychological Association (APA). A study done by the APA in 2016 has found that eighty patients who took a single dose of psilocybin mushrooms drastically reduced their depression and anxiety levels, with their levels even being reduced for up to six months, which is much longer than some conventional medicine. Some participants of this study were given talk therapy combined with the psilocybin, and these results showed that “participants made spiritual or religious interpretations of their experience and the psilocybin treatment helped facilitate a reconnection to life [and] greater mindfulness and presence…” according to Gabby Agin-Liebes, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Palo Alto University. This type of therapy would allow one to take a new approach to mental health medicine than previously before.
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), more commonly referred as “acid,” is another well known psychedelic drug around the world. The most common misconception about LSD is that it “fries the brain.” However, a 2008 study at John Hopkins University found that there is no connected link between mental illness and the drug itself, with patients reporting more benefits than negatives about LSD. A 2012 study that had been published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology showed that a single dose of the psychedelic had significant and long lasting beneficial effect with those suffering from alcoholism. This trial of five-hundreds patients showed that fifty-nine percent of those patients reduced levels of alcohol misuse after taking the drug. Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), used LSD to help go through his recovery, even claiming that it was a large factor in his recovery. LSD is still classified as a “Schedule-1 Drug” by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), alongside with opiates, heroin, and methamphetamine. LSD is under this classification because of the potential for it to become addicting, but from studies found that LSD is not physically or psychologically addicting. This classification makes it difficult to perform studies on the drug but the studies that are being conducted do show promising results.
As more people begin to have an open mind about psychedelic drugs and the medical uses they offer, more studies can be conducted to further the improvement of mental health medicine for those who suffer.
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