Is psychedelic therapy right?


Fact Box

  • Psychedelic therapy is defined as “the process of taking a psychedelic substance within a therapeutic setting, which typically includes psychotherapy.” Some psychedelics currently being used for this purpose are psilocybin (magic mushrooms), MDMA, ketamine, and lysergic acid (acid).
  • Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman invented lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in 1938. After accidentally absorbing a small dose, Hoffman concluded that “the drug would be ideal for psychotherapeutic use,” and sent samples off to universities and clinics worldwide. 
  • The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 “classified psychedelic drugs as Schedule I substances with no medical value and a high potential for abuse or addiction,” essentially criminalizing them. 
  • A recent YouGov poll found that one in four Americans has tried a psychedelic drug.

Bre (Yes)

Plant-based psychedelics have been used therapeutically for centuries. Now, more than ever, psychedelics’ profound benefits are becoming well-documented, making it impossible for scholars and professionals to ignore the substances’ vast healing potential.

Psychedelics alter perception, influencing neurochemistry and physical responses. Therefore, a psychedelic experience provides unique perspectives, which can provoke introspective insights enabling users to more freely examine the sources of, and break free from, formerly entrenched patterns of negative behavior.

Treatment for anxiety and depression was among the first known uses of LSD. Such disorders lead to thousands of lives lost annually, not to mention cost billions worldwide. Psychedelic therapy is also long-known to aid in alcohol dependence and trauma processing, posing fewer risks than current pharmacological treatments. Further, numerous recent studies show that psychedelic-assisted therapy can safely offer significant benefits for a range of psychological conditions. Even single-dose treatments demonstrated profound, lasting results.

Notably, the benefits of psychedelics aren’t limited to the ill--healthy individuals also report positive effects, such as enhanced mood and well-being, along with improved focus and cognition. Some studies show they may even reduce the risk of opioid addiction and protect against mental health issues. Psychedelics have also been linked to creative breakthroughs, with several highly influential scientists and inventors citing the role of these substances in their historic discoveries

As these therapies gain momentum and respect in medical and scientific communities, the FDA has taken notice, designating both psilocybin and MDMA as “breakthrough therapies” for certain conditions--and has now approved a ketamine-based nasal spray anti-depressant. Experts believe with the rapidly growing body of research legitimizing psychedelic therapy, its stigma will continue to decline, and the substances’ classifications will become less restrictive.

Elisa (No)

While marijuana and other drug use have been recently normalized, people tend to dismiss their dangers. One of these dangers is the psychosis associated with psychedelics, and even though experts say it is “weakly associated,” there is still a risk. 

Psychedelic drugs impact your mind and body and have many risks, including physical effects, even in low doses. Dangers of psychedelic therapy include psychosis, hallucinations, personality changes, and memory and sleep impairment. Further, cardiac and arhythmic issues have been associated with this type of therapy, and some have even developed hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), which can create visual disturbances and frightening flashbacks. Over time, more information has been coming out about the long-term and harmful consequences of psychedelic therapy. 

As always, the medical industry tries to prescribe a “drug” for a cure, whether that be psychedelic therapy or prescription medications. However, studies show that these drugs do not cure anybody, and if we have learned anything from the drug-based approach to healing, it simply doesn’t work as well as medical professionals claim. In other words, any type of drug, whether SSRIs or psychedelics, is just a band-aid for deeper-rooted issues or trauma. Drugs simply cannot cure everything, as they do not address those root issues. In fact, therapy is often a more effective solution than medication. 

Ultimately, it is important not to mistake the temporary high or after-glow effect of drug use as a conclusive resolution of your issues, but rather it is imperative to explore true healing through means such as cognitive therapy for problems such as depression. When it comes to healing, our minds are more powerful than drugs.

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