Source: Counseling Today
MDMA, also known as ecstasy or Molly, is a psychoactive, recreational drug many are familiar with, which is widely consumed. MDMA is only one of the illegal substances that are used as a party drug and are relatively easy to get ahold of. It is not, however, so easy make use of MDMA, or psychedelic drugs such as LSD, or shrooms, legally as means of treating mental disorders. Something which, believe it or not, many researchers are trying to change.
But, first of all, what are psychedelic and psychoactive drugs and how do they work?
Psychedelic refer to drugs which have hallucinogenic properties, including not limited to: LSD, magic mushrooms. Psychoactive drugs refer to drugs which chemically changes the functioning of the nervous system, altering perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, and behaviour in the same way that psychedelic drugs do, only they are not hallucinogenic. The latter would be the case for MDMA.
Neuroscientific knowledge on the medicinal possibilities of these drugs, has a long way to go, as research with this specific purpose in mind has been scarce. So far, the creation of a new connection in the brain between neural networks and neurones can be observed on people on a psychedelic trip.
Those drugs generally cause changes in thoughts, sensory perceptions, and hallucinations, and can result in new thinking patterns. According to new research, this new way of thinking can help people to overcome trauma by processing memories and feelings.
Taking into account those effects, one can already sense where the idea of using psychedelic drugs as treatment for mental disorders comes from.
Source: New Scientist
What most of us don’t know is that psychedelics, such as LSD, and psilocybin, were already being used as medicine in the 1950s and early 1960s, particularly to treat mental disorders such as PTSD. You’ll probably ask yourself, if they were used as medicine in the past why are they are not used now? Especially with people increasingly affected by mental disorders.
One of the reasons is the association of psychedelics with the 1960s counterculture, a loose, expressive social movement including associated commonly linked with illegal drug use. Another reason was the increased knowledge on bad trips, and the comedown after the trip, causing moral concerns on using regarding the use of psychedelics as medicine.
Looking at media and medical research now, it seems like there is a regained interest in using psychedelic drugs as medicine , and an active attempt to trying to change the reputation of Magic Mushrooms, LSD, and MDMA. But how can psychedelic and psychoactive drugs be used as medicine?
Source: Health Europa
In the part few years, we have seen increasing scientific efforts towards the the development of psychedelic medicine which circumvents the hallucinogenic and “trippy” side of the drug, but is still able to cause the positive changes in the patient’s brain.
To investigate the usefulness of psychedelics said drugs as medicine several medical trials were, and continue to be, are conducted. As it turns out, the two main psychedelics recreational drugs found to be effective as medicine are magic mushrooms and MDMA: MDMA mainly affects the mood and sensation of people, causing a high euphoria, and is found to be effective to treat PTSD in several trials.
Magic Mushrooms, with the active ingredient psilocybin causing a change in perception, is found to help people see a clearer reality of their lives and actively confronts them with their depression. Several trials on the role of psilocybin showed that most participants suffering from treatment-resistant depression experience reduced depressive symptoms after taking magic mushrooms.
Medical trials suggest psychedelics to be generally effective as medicine, but are there also problems that come along with their use?
Oftentimes, the aftermath of drug use includes a comedown, which can have the complete intended effect with a patient and overturn their development. Also critical is the risk of a bad trip with impairments such as dissociation or panic attacks.
Researchers argue those impairments could be reduced and suggest that psychedelics could be used as a medicine if:
First, they are altered to the extent that the down or depressive episode after consumption is reduced.
Second, to try to avoid a long or strong trip or a trip at all.Third, to put the patient under medical supervision.
So overall it seems like psychedelic medicine could be the solution to treat difficult mental disorders. However, there is still a long way to go since, so far, not enough medical trials are conducted to confirm this treatment as completely safe.
Even so, if we knew psychedelic medicine was safe , it would still be hard for it to be accepted as a medicine. Just think of the struggle is was, and still is, for marihuana to be properly used and accepted as medicinal!
It might be a little crazy to imagine using psychedelics to cure mental illnesses, however, if we think about all the medications, we use every day without even actually thinking about their sideffects, maybe it is not even that crazy after all.
If countries would invest in more research on psychedelic medicine, and be open to implementing such a medication legally this could be a solution for people suffering from treatment-resistant mental diseases.
So why not be open to a new perception of psychedelics and use them as medicine? Why don’t we learn from the past, and use to move forward, rather than be conditioned but it, and hold on to old stigmas?