Psychedelics and research part 2: Why psychedelics and why now?

This is part two of a two-part blog series by our guest author Associate Professor Fiona Hutton, teacher and researcher of Criminology at Victoria University of Wellington. We posted part 1 What’s all the fuss about psychedelics? last week

Due to the sustained efforts of a number of organisations and individuals such as the Beckley Foundation, MAPS, Prof. David Nutt and his colleagues at Drug Science, and in the US context Dr. Michael Mithoefer to name but a few, a psychedelic renaissance has been taking place over the last decade or so.

Despite the entrenched stigma of prohibition and resistance to accepting the medical use of substances like LSD and MDMA, the results of pioneering clinical trials have been too successful to ignore.

Alongside sustained activism by some of the people noted above, and the mental health ‘crisis’ in many countries, psychedelics can no longer be side-lined. There have also been some shifts in the ‘war on drugs’ with regards to psychedelics. For example, in 2020 Oregon legalized psilocybin mushrooms for use in therapy and decriminalized possession of small amounts of all drugs.

Read about the legalisation of psilocybin in Oregon on the Oregon Live site

Contemporary success

The results of clinical and other studies into the use of psychedelics for treating things like depression, trauma, PTSD and so on is nothing short of astounding with contemporary studies repeating the successes of the early counterparts.

Some of that research can be summed up as follows:

Imagine then, what our mental health treatment system may have looked like if research into psychedelics had not been stopped in its tracks.

In an ideal world over the past 5 decades instead of outlawing substances such as LSD, Psilocybin and MDMA these could have been incorporated into our health system and used to treat people with trauma related conditions.

Let’s hope that governments around the world will now stand by their ‘drugs are a health issue’ rhetoric, follow the evidence, and embrace psychedelic assisted therapy. Surely it would be too cruel to deny people access to medicines that could help them?

However, before we all go rushing off to take shitloads of psychedelics, please remember that these studies were carried out with trained professionals after stringent health checks to make sure people were suitable for this kind of therapy.

Also psychedelics are not a ‘magic bullet’ for everyone so treat them with respect. If you’re thinking of trying psychedelics to help with your mental health talk to a doctor you trust about what you have planned and why.

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