Since the 1950s, the practice has been met with severe controversy, but a new study is attempting to shed light on the possible upside of psychedelic drugs in medicine, by underlining a few choice conditions that can be successfully treated through illegal substances.
This is not the first time the matter has been approached. In fact, the 1950s and 1960s had seen great research and experimentations by scientists on now-illegal drugs such as LSD, ecstasy or magic mushrooms, but any further development was halted by their adverse effect.
People started using them outside of regulations, ingesting high amounts of the substances until President Richard Nixon declared them as “public enemy no.1”, and banned them, along with any potential research. However, with the unwanted effects, the medical community also had to part ways with the possible treatments they could’ve achieved within a controlled environment.
According to author of the study, Dr. Evan Wood has stated that the infamous ‘bad trips’ happen due to misuse of the substances, and renewed scientific research “is generating new knowledge” about a class of potential medicine that could have been used to benefit patients for a few choice conditions, if conducted in a safe, strictly controlled and professional way.
Due to controversy of human trials of such illegally deemed substances, only small researches have been done quietly since the 1990s when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started to approve such tests. According to Matthew Johnson, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, an important aspect of the practice is the patience of waiting for its “sensationalism to kind of simmer down”.
Perhaps once the subject became less taboo, it would open an entirely new field of research for medical health professionals, especially those combating a few mental disorders, such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addiction.
Ecstasy (MDA) could be used to treat PTSD, magic mushrooms (psilocybin) could reduce addiction, and LSD or peyote might be used treat an entire list of anxieties. Extensive screening of potential patients using the illegal drugs have seen to excellent results, along with long-term benefits, in spite of the “relatively time-limited interventions”.
Furthermore, according to Johnson, psychedelic drugs could raise as the cheaper alternative in treating numerous mental disorders, considering the concern of economy in today’s medical care. Prices are ordinarily high, and perhaps they would become an “economically viable” option, as an alternative to already available therapies.
Continual research may pave the way into medical breakthroughs in treating mental conditions in patients that currently see no improvement from existing treatments. It may only be a matter of allowing their use in a strictly controlled and professional environment, with well scheduled follow ups and extensive observation of possible side-effects.