Psychedelics

Psychedelics are powerful psychoactive substances that change perception and mood and affect a number of cognitive processes. Psychedelics affect all 5 human senses, altering a person’s thinking, sense of time, and emotions, and can also cause a person to hallucinate. There are many different types of psychedelics – some occurring naturally, and some created synthetically. In general, psychedelics are considered physiologically safe and do not lead to dependence or addiction. Naturally occurring psychedelics have been used since time immemorial by many ancient civilizations around the world for ritual and therapeutic purposes. In more modern history, the systematic scientific investigation of psychedelics began around the 1880s. During this period, scientists and psychiatrists started conducting research into the effects of psychedelics on the human psyche1. Into the 1950s, a small group of psychiatrists, led under the supervision of Humphry Osmond, started using psychedelic drugs as alternative medicines for addictions and various mental disorders with promising results. Approximately 2,000 patients were showing positive outcomes from Osmond’s treatments2. Osmond’s form of therapy was so successful that it was endorsed by the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and the director of Saskatchewan’s Bureau of Alcoholism2.
However, by end of the 1960s different countries started debating the recreational use of psychedelics and began prohibiting their use. This was due to the negative results coming from its use in social settings. This shut the door for many decades to expanding on early research findings and furthering the use of psychedelics for medical and psychological purposes. Despite the multiple decades-long prohibitions of scientific and recreational use of psychedelics, we are now witnessing a very strong renaissance in psychedelics research. In the past two decades specifically, academics and scientists have been granted permission to conduct studies that are again showing promising results3. There are a number of studies that show extraordinary results in people with depression, anxiety, and addiction problems. Since patients are responding in positive ways to psychedelic-assisted treatments, more studies are being done with more variety of psychedelics assisted drugs to treat severe diseases like stroke, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. By doing psychedelic micro-dose-assisted treatments and having the patients take the drugs in controlled areas, scientists have taken the “bad trip” experience out and are helping patients with their problems. With different scientific groups conducting more successful studies, governments should consider putting more focus and attention towards psychedelic-assisted therapies to treat all these overwhelming diseases. If social concerns of the 1960s were not in effect today and society were more open to the results of psychedelic-assisted treatments; the pressure from the people can change governments ruling on psychedelic-assisted drugs to speed up approval of psychedelic-assisted treatments. In contrast, psychedelic-assisted drugs could be the future treatment to specific targeted diseases and open the door to treating a diverse list of other diseases.
[1] “The History of Psychedelics (Part 1 of 2),” Visual Capitalist, April 30, 2021, https://www.visualcapitalist.com/the-history-of-psychedelics-part-1-of-2/.
[2] Moheb Costandi, “A Brief History of Psychedelic Psychiatry | Mo Costandi,” The Guardian (Guardian News and Media, September 2, 2014).
[3] Williams, Luke. “Human Psychedelic Research: A Historical And Sociological Analysis.” MAPS, April 1999.  

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