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According to Poltifacts, was a proud moment initiated by President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s inevitably would become one of the biggest failures of United States history increasing incarceration six times over; costing Americans millions in tax dollars and categorizing potential life saving cures as harmful drugs (Carroll). This was an embarrassing moment in time filled with lies and propaganda that swept the nation for decades but with the benefits of medical marijuana surfacing over the recent years it started to shine a light on what we thought were harmful substances. It is important that we legalize psychedelics for medical and therapeutic reasons because they can help thousands of individuals with mental disorders, enhance human development, and save Americans time and money.
With psychedelics being labeled as substances with no medical use and thought of as comparative to heroin by the DEA, research on it has been very limited, however, even with the few tests that have been run, many show significant and promising signs that they can be used to help treat mental disorders. According to a study done by John Hopkins University on the effects of psilocybin on patients with cancer related anxiety and depression, “About 80% of participants continued to show clinically significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety 83% reported increases in well-being or life satisfaction 67% of participants reported the experience as one of the top five meaningful experiences in their lives…About 70% reported the experience as one of their top five spiritually significant lifetime events” (McMains).
With results like those from this experiment one can only imagine the significance it can have on the cancer community. In a documentary by PBS News Hour, CJ Hardin, a veteran who like many faced near-death in combat, stressed his struggles with PTSD stating “ the way that my emotions ran and how it felt uncontrollable, I didn’t trust myself with a weapon with me because I was suicidal, very suicidal” (“Why Psychedelic Drugs”). After years of normal methods of therapy failing to make any improvements he tried a controlled treatment of MDMA administered by two psychologists and stated, “the effects after the first treatment were profound. I would say there was a 60% reduction in my symptoms” (“Why Psychedelic Drugs”).
The Washington Post mentions MDMA helps compose the traumatized regions of the brain and restores rational thought (Shroder). These psychoactive are much more effective than standard forms of therapy available today. Surveys released by Veteran Affairs show an increase in military suicides annually with no signs of reduction through current methods of treatment (“Suicide Among Veterans”). It would be inhumane keep these treatments away from the thousands suffering every day from mental illnesses like CJ Hardin.
With the limited availability of these substances there has not been enough evidence to rule any applications of these substances out and in somewhat of a paradox it has shown it can help reduce substance dependency. According to Nature.com, there were 6 trials ran on more than 500 people with alcohol dependency and nearly 6 out of every 10 involved that were receiving LSD showed less alcohol misuse (Frood). With such a large group of people showing consistent results it is hard to deny that it would help many others.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “There were 139.7 million past month alcohol drinkers aged 12 or older in 2014, including 60.9 million who were binge alcohol users and 16.3 million who were heavy alcohol users. In 2014, the percentage of people aged 12 or older who were past month alcohol users (52.7 percent) was similar to the percentages in 2009 through 201”(“Behavioral”). Imagine the real life implications this could have on not only the millions of US citizens affected by this disorder but the worlds.
Even though there are undoubtedly many health implications and benefits to the use of psychedelics, many sternly believe that these substances are still very harmful and would lead to abuse if legalized. Like other similar substances, psychedelics can cause negative physical and mental effects. In an article written by the National Institute on Drug Abuse it was document that hallucinogens can cause serious health risks such as increased blood pressure and body temperature, which can lead to heart attacks and organ failure (“Hallucinogens”). Those already with health problems are most at risk as it has lead to seizures as well (“Hallucinogens”).
In addition to the toll it can do physically to the body, most commonly feared is the physiological damage it can do. Psychedelics are very mysterious and are often used to alter one’s state of mind. This poses a huge risk as the trip can and has in several cases taken a turn for the worst. Users are at risk of persistent psychosis, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts (“Hallucinogens”). There is currently no way to end a “trip” if it turns bad for the user which causes living nightmares that last nearly 12 hours. In an article written by The Telegraph there were reports of a death linked to the use of a popular psychedelics; “a 17-year-old French girl jumped to her death from one of Amsterdam’s canal bridges in March after taking them” (Clements). This ultimately lead to the sale and use of such substance being banned and made illegal in one of the world’s leading drug escapes, Amsterdam.
Although these potential side effects are very serious and certainly possible, most of these effects are very rare and are mainly caused by consistent abuse. Even water which is essential to life can cause similar effects if abused. Traditional methods are notoriously ineffective and ironically enough, “in the case of some drugs, such as benzodiazepines, may have addictive and other troubling side effects” (McMains). If these drugs are administered by professionals and heavily regulated by the government like other currently legal medications the likelihood of these negative effects can be minimized. The possibility of it causing major negative psychological impacts to the users can also be reduced by a medical screening of the patient and administering it in controlled areas. With the substance becoming legal there will be more room for research on these substances which could lead to huge breakthroughs in our society and also lead to making the administration of the substances to become safer and more controlled.
Also, when compared to other substances and medications currently in use they are actually very safe. According to an investigation done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it was recorded that out of the 60,000+ overdoses that occurred in 2016, nearly half of them were caused by drugs that can be legally prescribed today (“Cause”). To date, there has not been a single report of a drug overdose in connection to popular psychedelics like LSD or psilocybin also known as Magic Mushrooms.
Legalizing psychedelics would open a whole new world of possibilities for human growth and development. It has been proven to help reduce the fear of death and anxiety in cancer patients, allows veterans suffering from PTSD and suicidal thoughts to return to a healthy life with their families, and gives struggling parents with alcohol and substance dependencies the ability to take control of their lives once again. “Behavioral health disorders, which include substance use and mental health disorders, affect millions of adolescents and adults in the United States and contribute heavily to the burden of disease” (“Behavioral”). Implications of these psychoactive substances may not be the cure for cancer or the key to worldwide peace, but for the millions suffering daily, this may be the answer to all of their prayers and could ultimately give them a reason to continue living.
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