Psychedelics have been given a bad rap, but it turns out, drugs like magic mushrooms and Ecstasy are just the ticket for someone suffering anxiety and other mental illnesses.
But since President Nixon declared his war on drugs, research into psychedelics has stagnated, and any benefit they may have in treating a variety of mental issues, like anxiety, couldn’t be explored, Newsweek reported.
But a review of various studies into the drugs is shedding light on that benefit, and it may change the way mental illness is treated.
“The biological and psychological evidence seems to show that these drugs can have a unique effect on altering the patient’s subjective experience in a very powerful and meaningful way,” said study author Matthew Johnson. He added the drugs “can help people who are in a very difficult place psychologically break out and get unstuck.”
Psychedelics allow users to have a spiritual or mystical experience. Those who have such experiences often end up having profound insights that have significant effects on behavior, said psychiatric researcher Evan Wood.
The best thing about taking psychedelics for problems like anxiety is that they seem to have an effect after only a few doses. Usually, people have to take medicine every day, sometimes for life.
“With even minor mental health conditions like minor depression or anxiety…or more serious problems like addiction, the existing paradigm is to frame these as chronic, lifelong diseases. (Psychedelics are) a total paradigm shift in the way that mental illness is treated.”
Psychedelics can help treat many conditions — addiction, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder.
Magic mushrooms lowers anxiety and improves mood, and LSD helps the dying battle end-of-life anxiety, CBS News added. It also helped reduce harmful behaviors associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and reduced something outside the realm of traditional medicine: existential anxiety associated with a cancer diagnosis.
Psychedelics also help treat alcohol addiction by reducing cravings, and can help people quit smoking cigarettes. Ecstasy is effective in treating PTSD, while the Amazonian hallucinogenic Ayahuasca can reduce anxiety, depression, and treat addiction, as well as induce spiritual experiences.
For healthy people, the effects of psychedelics are also incredible, according to the study.
“(People) made claims to be more sensitive, compassionate, tolerant, to have increased positive relationships, an increased need to serve others. Those kinds of changes are not delusional, because blinded interviews with family members, friends and work colleagues [confirm these reports].”
But scientists are being cautious, because in the past, psychedelics weren’t necessarily used as a way to battle anxiety, but as a recreational drug. One of these detractors said that the drugs help science understand how the brain works, but some of them “have the potential for misuse and addiction.”
For now, Ectasy, LSD, or Ayahuasca should be used in a controlled setting, and scientists may want to harness the drugs’ therapeutic elements, eliminating the hallucinations or feelings of dislocation. And people shouldn’t start self-medicating with psychedelics, either, Johnson warned.
“People should not go out on their own to treat themselves with these drugs. These drugs need to be researched according to a strict regulatory process, the same as you would develop any drug.”
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