Research into psychedelics has taken a new look at mind-altering drugs. To put it another way, a review article by CNN shows that there is new research going on to examine the use of psychedelics in the treatment of chronic anxiety, chronic, therapy-resistant depression and PTSD. In addition, other studies have found that mind-altering drugs can be useful in helping people with addictions. Addiction to heroin, alcohol and smoking showed a favorable response to mind-altering drugs.
Some historic facts about mind-altering drugs
Detection of LSD
A Swiss researcher detected LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) in 1938. He accidentally swallowed some LSD and described how he felt: “I sometimes observed, in the manner of an independent, neutral observer, that I shouted half insanely or babbled incoherent words. Occasionally I felt as if I were out of my body.”
LSD useful for treating treatment-resistant alcoholics
In 1950 the UK psychiatrist Dr. Humphry Osmond started to give LSD to treatment-resistant alcoholics. 40-45% of patients who took LSD were still sober after one year. Another researcher confirmed these findings.
Declaring LSD illegal
In 1966 LSD was declared illegal. In 1970 under president Nixon hallucinogenics including LSD were classified as the most restrictive category of Schedule I drugs. These are drugs with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
Investigating mind-altering drugs
In the early and mid 1990’s Germany, Switzerland and the US started doing serious research on the use of mind-altering drugs for specific psychiatric disorders. Researchers investigated psilocybin, mescaline, and a new player, namely N-dimethyltryptamine or DMT in more detail. In a publication from October, 2017 entitled “Psychedelics for mental illness” the authors mentioned that psilocybin was useful to treat treatment-resistant depression. Researchers also found that psilocybin was helping patients with obsessive compulsive disorder and people with alcohol dependence.
Good clinical results treating PTSD with MDMA
PTSD is a particularly difficult psychiatric disorder to treat. However, a study revealed that an amphetamine derivative, MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) was effective in treating PTSD patients with a 68% response rate within 1 year. In the past these patients had treatment resistant PTSD for 17.8 years.
Many more psychedelic drugs have been under investigation. MAPS, the multidisciplinary association for psychedelic studies, has over the years been instrumental to initiate high-quality scientific studies.
This showed effectiveness of many psychedelic drugs. Anxiety, PTSD, severe intractable depression and addiction problems seem to be the mental disorders that were responding. However, it required counseling by a psychiatrist in combination with the use of mind-altering drugs. Without the counseling component and only the administration of drugs the improvement of the mentioned conditions cancels itself out.
Over the last few decades there have been many investigations into the effect of mind-altering drugs on various psychiatric conditions. Anxiety, PTSD, severe intractable depression and addiction problems are conditions that respond best to a combination of counseling and the careful use of mind-altering drugs. The FDA has recognized the usefulness of mind-altering drugs under certain circumstances and has supported clinical trials designed to prove the effectiveness of mind-altering drugs. MAPS, the multidisciplinary association for psychedelic studies has also been supportive to initiate these studies and have the FDA review the studies. When studies showed effectiveness the FDA often approved mind-altering drugs was for specific indications.
The future will tell whether under certain circumstances your therapist can administer mind-altering drugs to patients in combination with counseling. At this time, however, all the results are not available to support this step.