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Open Your Mind: The Therapeutic Potential Of Psychedelic Drugs

According to a new study, more Americans are doing psychedelic drugs, some via LSD tabs like the ones pictured here.
According to a new study, more Americans are doing psychedelic drugs, some via LSD tabs like the ones pictured here.

Many of us are looking for ways to escape 2020. For some that means a trip to the outdoors. Others escape into the Netflix catalog. And for a growing number of Americans that means taking psychedelic drugs, as drugs like LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms) are becoming more popular.

Meanwhile, clinical trials at Johns Hopkins University and New York University show the benefits of treating mental health disorders with psychedelics.

While the majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, legalizing psychedelics can be a tricky proposition.

As Sean Illing reports forVox:

Find our previous conversation on addressing treatment-resistant depression with ketamine here.

We talk about about the therapeutic power of psychedelic drugs and the path to decriminalizing them.

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Treatment Referral Helpline is 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

A Statement From The National Institute of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse

“Psilocybin is not currently approved for any therapeutic indication. However, the FDA has granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation for two formulations of psilocybin in the treatment of major depressive disorder, indicating that this compound may be developed into future medications to treat psychiatric disorders. Esketamine, another hallucinogenic compound, was FDA approved for treatment-resistant depression in 2019. Because of safety concerns, including the potential for misuse, it is only available through a restricted distribution system and it must be administered in a certified medical office where the health care provider can monitor the patient.As these medications are developed, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is concerned that the public may assume that hallucinogens are safe to use recreationally. Adverse effects of psilocybin use have been well documented. Depending on the individual, the dose, and the context in which the drug is taken, psilocybin can trigger psychosis in susceptible individuals and cause other acute, adverse psychological effects, such as severe disorientation, paranoia and extreme anxiety. Thus, it is important to remind people that experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs outside a research setting can produce serious harms. NIDA’s mission is to support research and provide information on drugs and outcomes associated with their use. As part of this mission, we look forward to review of data from new studies that will enable us to increase our knowledge of these drugs and their effects, both adverse and therapeutic.”

Copyright 2020 WAMU 88.5

Kathryn Fink
Kathryn Fink is a producer with NPR's All Things Considered.