Can Psychedelic Drugs Be Treatment Options in Psychiatry?

Psychedelic drugs are now a popular thing once again. Even Wall Street is full of several newly formed psychedelic-related startup companies. Moreover, it looks like there’s a renewed medical and media interest in stuff like ecstasy (MDMA), mushrooms (psilocybin), acid (LSD), ayahuasca, ketamine, and DMT (dimethyltryptamine).

Michael Pollan claimed that for most of the 50s and 60s, most people in the psychiatric community regarded psilocybin and LSD as wonder drug components for treating addiction, depression, and anxiety trauma, among many other health conditions. However, he said that as these drugs started getting linked to the 60s counterculture, and as more people started suffering psychotic breaks and bad trips, the new drug’s exuberance resulted in a moral panic. However, the pendulum seems to be swinging back in favor of these drugs. As a result, people are now evaluating whether they can be used to help treat some psychiatric conditions.

What Are Psychedelics?

These are drugs that can induce sensory perceptions and altered thoughts. When in large doses, some can cause visual hallucinations. The most commonly known psychedelic to be able to do this is LSD. Mushrooms can do this as well. They have a component known as psilocybin which, if ingested in large amounts, can cause hallucinations and can alter your sensory perceptions. Others like ecstasy mainly affect the sense of touch and mood. While all these drugs are often grouped together, they have huge differences.

How DThey Work?

Director of MGH’s (Massachusetts General Hospital) newly formed Center of the Neuroscience of Psychedelics, Dr. Jerrold Rosenbaum, claimed that there’s a short answer to this question. It is that psychedelics pushes the brain to change in a brief way that allows it to somewhat reset and alter the previous ways it’s been thinking and feeling about things. There are many ways these drugs can make this happen. First, they help the brain briefly make new connections in its neural networks when it’s in rest mode. Second, Dr. Roesnbaum says its sort of rebooting a computer. This is how it shifts the thinking patterns your brain has been stuck on. Lastly, these drugs can put the brain in a transient state.

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