For 40 years, Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss and March, has believed psychedelics are an effective treatment for depression and anxiety. Now a growing number of scientists agree.
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A recent large population study of 130,000 adults in the United States failed to find evidence for a link between psychedelic use (lysergic acid diethylamide, psilocybin or mescaline) and mental health problems. Using a new data set consisting of 135,095 randomly selected United States adults, including 19,299 psychedelic users, we examine the associations between psychedelic use and mental health. After adjusting for sociodemographics, other drug use and childhood depression, we found no significant associations between lifetime use of psychedelics and increased likelihood of past year serious psychological distress, mental health treatment, suicidal thoughts, suicidal plans and suicide attempt, depression and anxiety. We failed to find evidence that psychedelic use is an independent risk factor for mental health problems. Psychedelics are not known to harm the brain or other body organs or to cause addiction or compulsive use; serious adverse events involving psychedelics are extremely rare.
Overall, it is difficult to see how prohibition of psychedelics can be justified as a public health measure.
Read the study here
I don’t encourage anybody to do psychedelics for any purpose whatsoever. I think that people should be free to make up their own minds based on accurate, complete, and honest information. I do acknowledge that for me, personal experiences with psychedelics have been transformative and I wouldn’t consider them medical. Recreational use has been given a bad name, considered hedonistic and extraordinarily dangerous.
I think, for example, the celebratory use of psychedelics at festivals and concerts can be profoundly healing and inspirational. At the same time, MAPS is focused on providing psychedelic harm reduction services because people sometimes take these substances just for recreation and then deeper material rises to the surface. The use of these drugs explicitly for recreation with the intention of only having an easy happy experience is in some ways a recipe for disaster.
A deeper respect for the intention of these drugs should be involved even if the purpose is celebratory and recreational. For non-medical use to be as safe as possible we need to move to some sort of legalized setting so people can know what they’re getting. The distinction between medical and recreational is in some senses artificial. Sasha Shulgin used to say, there should be no such thing as a casual experiment with psychedelics.
-Rick Doblin, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, MAPS
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Psychedelics have been the subject of experiments by scientists for decades but went out of favor with the law in the 1960s and 1970s when they “escaped the lab” and were picked up by proselytizers who helped give them a bad name, conference presenters said. This led to a backlash that slammed the lid on research for the next several decades.