The Benefits of Psychedelics

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Psychedelic drugs include cannabis, ecstasy, acid and magic mushrooms. They were made illegal in 1970 under the Controlled Substances Act.

Matt Mergenthaler

The use of psychedelics remains a highly stigmatized topic that many people hold misconceived beliefs about. Given that the mainstream media and society generally condemn the use of such substances even in the presence of irrefutable evidence that these substances can be beneficial, it is no surprise that the general public holds distorted beliefs of what is actually true and what are simply just traditionalized and outdated lies about psychedelics.

Psychedelics primarily include cannabis, LSD, psilocybin and MDMA. One of the primary reasons that these “drugs” are demonized in the United States is that during the Nixon administration, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 was passed. This act conceptually split the severity of possessing a variety of drugs into five different categories, or schedules, as they’re called. For example, Schedule I drugs are the most punishable by law to possess and have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” while Schedule IV drugs include prescription pills such as Xanax and Valium, both classified as benzodiazepines, which are psychoactive drugs used to treat anxiety and insomnia.

While benzodiazepines, or benzos, are not inherently harmful, they can be harmful and even lethal in high enough doses. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were 10,684 reported deaths involving benzos in 2016. However, no one has ever technically died from an overdose on psychedelics and it would take more than the equivalent of several thousand doses of acid to kill somebody, rendering it virtually impossible to do so, according to a 1972 entry in “The Western Journal of Medicine.”

Psychedelics are also not addictive. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, addiction is conceptually when a substance triggers a positive sensation in the limbic system and the network of nerves in the brain. When that sensation fades, the brain starts to mimic what is essentially “hunger” for that sensation. Psychedelics do not trigger any of these sensations in the limbic system, thus making them physiologically non-addictive substances.

Psychedelics are beneficial in many ways. According to a study by Alicia Danforth, PhD, of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, the use of MDMA, also known as ecstasy, mixed with therapy has helped autistic adults immensely with social anxiety when other treatment options have proven to be ineffective. This is groundbreaking considering that the positive effects of this lasted months or even years for most of the volunteers for this study.

The FDA has also recently approved the use of the chemical in magic mushrooms, called psilocybin, for a drug trial attempting to possibly treat depression. Magic mushrooms have been known to have the capabilities to treat anxiety, depression and PTSD, as well as other mental disorders, which is also groundbreaking because many other medications for mental illness have proven to arguably be ineffective or at the very least have extremely undesirable side effects.

Lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as LSD or acid, also has many medical and mental benefits. Studies done by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and John Hopkins University School of Medicine show that the violence of prisoners decreased when administered LSD. According to other studies, LSD also helps people combat alcoholism and mental illness and has been known to help ease the anxiety of people who have terminal illnesses. On top of this, acid has been known to also enhance emotionality and empathy, alleviate cluster headaches, boost creativity, have potent anti-inflammatory effects and improve brainwaves, which in turn increases alertness and awareness.

Psychedelics should be made legal at least for medical use. If addictive drugs that are dangerous and even potentially lethal are legal for consumption to virtually anybody, then psychedelic drugs should be too, given that they’re non-addictive and can’t kill you and can provide many benefits. Psychedelics definitely can pose threats under circumstances in which they aren’t administered in a controlled environment, but there’s virtually no harm that can be done to one’s health if psychedelics are taken responsibly and with careful preparation. Psychedelics hold a lot potential to make breakthroughs in the medical and psychiatric fields, which is why they should be legal for medicinal purposes.