Gone are the days when psychedelics were only for hippies, high school burnouts, and college kids. We are now approaching a new frontier. Affective January 1, 2025, penalties associated with the possession and use of certain psychedelic substances will be removed thanks to the passing of Senate Bill 58 by Senator Scott Wiener, (D-San Francisco).
The bill applies specifically to Psilocybin, (Magic Mushrooms), Dimethyltryptamine, (DMT), and Mescaline, (excluding peyote). It appears that what was once taboo is now accepted in small doses. What does this mean for society? Allow us to shed some light on the possibilities.
What are psychedelics used for?
Though there has been a war on drugs in the Western Hemisphere for decades, many psychedelic drugs have been a part of cultural traditions for centuries. Throughout the world, various plants with psychoactive properties are used to achieve a supernatural high coupled with a greater sense of self and awareness. They are also used a great deal in religious and spiritual rituals.
With time, scientists have found positive uses for psychedelics. Today, certain psychedelics are used to treat various physical and mental health conditions such as:
- PTSD: Treatments for PTSD include psychotherapy and antidepressants. However, these alone may not always be successful. Some medications may cause patients to experience intolerable side effects making them no longer want to take it. Studies are now showing that psilocybin, the psychedelic found in shrooms can help treat PTSD by stimulating nerve cell growth and repair in the brain’s hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memories and emotion.
- Depression: A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University found that Psilocybin treated major depression for up to a month. However, follow-up studies show that Psilocybin coupled with psychotherapy can help treat symptoms of Major Depression for up to a year for some patients.
- Addiction: Many psychedelics are classified as Schedule 1 drugs, meaning they have a high addiction potential. New evidence has been found that shows a great potential for psychedelics to help treat addictions. Studies have also found that psychedelics are safer than traditional medications and have a much lower mortality rate.
Moreover, a study conducted by M. Winkelman, states that the use of LSD, Peyote, Ibogaine, and ayahuasca can produce an after-glow in users based on their effect on the serotonin neurotransmitter center in the brain. The serotonin effects play a major role in treating addiction because of the depressed serotonin levels found in patients suffering from addiction.
What are the risks of using psychedelics?
Most scientific studies show that psychedelics are much less harmful than alcohol and other controlled substances. However, a study conducted in Carbonaro et al.’s (2016) online survey determined that 11% of Magic Mushroom users reported putting themselves or others at risk of being harmed. It was found that these results were due to a high dosage and lack of proper support. These factors can be controlled in a clinical setting with professionals.
Another potential side effect of using psychedelics is having a “bad trip” or a difficult experience with the substance. Some individuals who experience a “bad trip” show signs of fear, anxiety, or paranoia.
More research is needed to determine exactly what compounds in the psychedelic cause the negative reaction. However, some believe that those who are naturally more open and accepting have a positive experience, while those who are more closed off and resistant have a greater potential for adverse effects.
In rare occurrences, other studies have shown the potential for psychotic breaks and suicidal thoughts. It’s important to note that all experiences will vary from person to person, however, one thing that scientists and mental health professionals agree on is the setting plays a key role in the outcome of the user experience.
For instance, a patient who is restrained and given high doses of a drug is more likely to experience negative effects than a person who is not restrained and carefully led through treatment by a professional who administers small doses of the drug over periods of time.
The negative stigmatization surrounding the use of psychedelics is finally fading. The passing of Senate Bill 58 proves that! For years, we’ve seen positive outcomes from the use of psychedelics in small doses with the right support system in a positive setting. This K&T writer feels the positive results will only continue.
Truth be told, most scientific and mental health professionals feel that psychedelics are less harmful than the cocktails we all love to celebrate with so much. The time has come to drop the negative stereotypes associated with certain substances and start embracing alternative mental and physical health care practices.
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