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One of reasons why Singapore withholds psychedelic drug therapy could be due to its potential deleterious effects on individuals and society alike. However, it has been shown that majority of the safety concerns have been fallacious. A population study comprising of 130,000 individuals found no links between psychedelics and mental health problems, such as suicidal thoughts and anxiety, as well as inpatient psychiatric treatment. Police reports from Europe have reported that psilocybin mushrooms sold legally has not bred any public order problems, and that both psilocybin mushrooms and LSD are less harmful as compared to other controlled substances such as alcohol. These suggest that prohibition of psychedelics based on concerns of public safety and health may not hold its ground.
On the contrary, participants have reported increased well-being and life satisfaction more than a year after ingesting psilocybin. This could enhance Singapore’s happiness levels, which currently stands at 34th in the world. It is with these reasons in mind that it is argued that Singapore pursues psychedelic therapy as a treatment option, albeit delicately with well-established procedures. Phelps (2017) offers a comprehensive guideline for the kind of competency required in therapists. It is detailed that therapists actively follow participants as they explore new perceptions arising from consuming these drugs and soothe whatever distress that may follow suit as a temporary means to a better end. This acknowledgement can thus help to build therapeutic relationship, allowing for smooth transitions between the phases of therapy. Several vital traits have been identified for therapists practicing psychedelic therapy to be trained in. With the numerous varied reactions a patient could have to psychedelics, it is necessary that therapists possess the ability to be able to listen and be flexible by not imposing a predetermined course of outcome. Psychologists should be equipped with a toolbox of methods that can be used to complement and enhance the effectiveness of the therapy, such as meditation or guided affective imagery.
Trust is essential in a patients’ motivation to complete and make meaning of emerging thoughts. Given the complexity of the process, therapists need to be able to enhance trust in three areas: patients’ view of the therapist as a competent guide, recognize their own healing abilities, and therapists’ ability to normalize radical moments in sessions as expected and part of the process. Next, competence is elevated when therapists possess in-depth and experiential knowledge of the effects of psychedelics, are attuned with developmental theories, and are astute in the anatomy and physiology. Lastly, therapists should be spiritually intelligent, meaning that they have existential meaning-making capabilities and an appreciation of mystery of transpersonal consciousness.
Overall, Singapore can choose to adopt this therapy preliminarily. Singapore can follow the footsteps of America by allowing the use of MDMA in clinical trials. As mentioned, with the worries surrounding safety reasons accounted for and dismissed – particularly for psilocybin and LSD – the government can also list these two drugs to the Third Schedule instead. Not only will the government have control over the manufacturing of these drugs, but it also helps to alleviate persistent stigma surrounding psychedelics held by the public. By ensuring that therapists possess the appropriate skills required to conduct psychedelic therapy, it further limits potential negative consequences. Considering the insurmountable evidence that psychedelic therapy is fast-acting and effective, it may not be entirely absurd to suggest that it is the duty of the local government to consider this matter.
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