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What Role Do Psychedelics Play in Mental Health Care? Separating Fact From Fiction

What Role Do Psychedelics Play in Mental Health Care? Separating Fact From Fiction

Psychedelics have long been a topic of controversy, with much of the public believing they once were a dangerous and destructive practice to be avoided.

Their use was often frowned upon and even outright shamed. Despite this, psychedelics still induced powerful experiences in people who took them, unfortunately, only contributing to widespread fear and hysteria.

Until recently, psychedelics were still seen as more detriment than benefit in terms of mental health care. However, research has revealed tremendous potential benefits associated with psychedelics when it comes to modulating emotions and improving psychological well-being.

Stick around to uncover more information about psychedelics and mental health care here in the UK.

What Counts As a Psychedelic?

When it comes to psychedelics, there are a wide variety of substances that are classified as such.

The most common psychedelics used in mental health care include psilocybin (otherwise known as “magic mushrooms”), LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), MDMA (methylenedioxy-methamphetamine or ecstasy), mescaline, and ketamine.

While there are numerous psychedelics with reported therapeutic potentials, the FDA has only approved research trials on these five psychedelics listed.

Therefore, when we talk about psychedelics throughout this blog, we will be referring to the psychedelics listed above.

The Stigma Surrounding Psychedelics in Mental Health Care:

The stigma surrounding psychedelics in mental health care has long been a source of fear and hesitation.

This can be traced to the counterculture history psychedelics had before they even began to be utilised in these settings; psychedelics were popularised by unconventional experiments in the 1950s, leading many to view them as inherently bad or evil.

Since then, there have been attempts to normalise psychedelics as potential forms of treatment or aid for conditions such as depression and anxiety.

However, many still remain suspicious–sometimes even hostile– toward this option due to its taboo cultural connotations.

Thus, while clinicians are increasingly more comfortable with exploring psychedelics’ efficacy as mental health interventions, it is still largely seen as a fringe therapy due to its enduring reputation and lack of conclusive research.

Joe Rogan’s View On Psychedelics:

Joe Rogan, an American UFC commentator, podcaster, comedian, and actor’s view on psychedelics has received great mass attention as he’s been at the centre of many conversations surrounding the subject. 

He believes psychedelics have promising potential for mental health care, and he has hosted many guests on his podcast who have discussed their personal experiences with psychedelics.

While psychedelics offer possible solutions to mental illness, Rogan acknowledges the significant risks they pose and cautions individuals against using psychedelics without proper guidance and supervision.

He is critical of using psychedelics as an escape or recreational drug, believing it could cause damage to mental health instead of improving it. Ultimately, Rogan encourages people to research psychedelics carefully before even considering their use, both in terms of potential benefits and the potential harms they can cause.

What Does Current Research Say About The Use of Psychedelics in Mental Health?

In recent years, numerous scientific studies all over the world have conducted extensive experiments testing out psychedelics such as psilocybin, demonstrating their immense potential to offer relief from depression, PTSD, and other conditions when used under the guidance of a mental health professional.

Psychedelics For Depression:

A more recent study showed that a single dose of the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, combined with psychotherapy sessions, was effective in relieving symptoms of severe depression in one-third of the participants.

But how?

Psilocybin has been shown by MRI scans to produce a heightened level of brain activity. When broken down within the body, this neurotransmitter-releasing substance causes waves of communication between various regions of the mind that were previously silent.

This revolutionary approach to treating such an enduring mental illness could be a viable alternative to traditional care options if it can be further studied and safely administered. The potential benefits psychedelics provide require further analysis, but this study is showing promise for the future of mental health treatments.

Psychedelics For PTSD:

A study conducted in 2021 examined the effectiveness of MDMA (commonly referred to as ‘ecstasy’ or ‘molly’) assisted therapy in treating individuals with PTSD and the results were very optimistic.

It was found that MDMA could be used to successfully help with memory extinction while also decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

MDMA may temporarily open a ‘window’ of opportunity for individuals suffering from PTSD to process traumatic memories with greater ease and less fear. This window would be based on oxytocin-dependent neuroplasticity that generally closes after adolescence, allowing those affected by the disorder more control over their emotions as they confront past events.

By the end of the trial period, 67% of individuals previously diagnosed with PTSD no longer met the criteria for diagnosis anymore – offering hope to those who had been suffering for far too long.

Psychedelics For Addiction:

A 2016 study revealed the extraordinary promise of LSD as a potential treatment for addiction.

Participants with no prior mental health issues were given one dose of this psychedelic drug and then showed remarkable improvements in mood, including heightened feelings of optimism and open-mindedness that lasted around two weeks.

Further research has supported these findings on the beneficial effects that can be associated with using LSD to battle alcohol dependency, improving an individual’s capacity to face their problems head-on while also experiencing bolstered levels of positivity.

Unfortunately, despite these breakthroughs, psychedelics remain largely illegal throughout the global community and much of the world still views psychedelics as strictly dangerous and off-limits. The attitudes and regulations around psychedelics must change before their true potential can be unlocked for use in society for healing purposes.

Silicon Valley May Be Ruining It For All Of Us:

​​The emergence of psychedelics as a potential solution to mental health struggles has been gathering momentum in recent years, with tech hubs like Silicon Valley at the epicentre.

The topic of psychedelics is often full of misconceptions, and many people in Silicon Valley are using psychedelics as a ‘shiny new toy’ for recreation and performance rather than as part of a comprehensive mental health treatment pathway.

It’s essential that psychedelics are treated respectfully so that we can unlock the incredible potential they could have in helping to improve the mental wellbeing of individuals and communities.

We need to ensure that psychedelics are understood for their true value so that the full benefit of their use for mental health care can be realised.

Are Psychedelics The Future Of Mental Health Care?

There is no denying psychedelics are on the rise, despite the existing stigma surrounding them. However, research has been growing and proving they can be extremely useful when it comes to mental health care.

Studies have suggested psychedelics may be capable of reducing anxiety and depression, improving attitudes towards death, facilitating psychological breakthroughs and providing deep spiritual experiences. They may even reduce symptoms in those with treatment-resistant depression.

Looking ahead, psychedelics offer hope that we might finally have a chance to revolutionise our approach to mental health treatments for a long list of conditions.

Though more clinical research is needed on its safety and efficacy, psychedelics appear to hold great potential for those suffering from mood disorders who could not find relief through traditional treatments alone. However, they are still not a silver bullet if used in isolation. Its imperative they are leveraged as part of a cohesive recovery pathway working in unison with a medical professional.








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