Government should not be the barrier to finding solutions to mental and physical health issues.

Psychedelic drugs are gaining a resurgence among researchers and practitioners. But because the federal government lists most of these as Schedule 1 drugs (just like marijuana) the availability to use and study them has been limited.

The Aspen Institute last year had a segment titled The Shroom Boom and other Therapeutic Psychedelics for the Win. I listened to the segment earlier this month.

Alison Snyder of Axios led the discussion with Rachel Yehuda, director of the Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research, and Gita Vaid, a psychologist and psychoanalyst who researches ketamine-assisted psychotherapy.

Yehuda put it simply: “We need to look out of the box for solutions to the problems of mental health.”

The two experts spoke about how in a controlled environment under the care of therapists who are versed in psychedelics that they are seeing positive results.

Like any drug or treatment, going to this altered state to help heal past traumas is not for everyone. But both women believed more of this needs to be explored.

In March 2019, for the first time the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a drug that produces psychedelic effects to treat depression. This drug is esketamine.

The same agency allocated “breakthrough therapy” status to MDMA (aka ecstasy) for PTSD and psilocybin (aka magic mushrooms) for major depression. This status means the drugs are fast-tracked for research.

Aspen Ideas explained, “In the 1950s and ’60s, mental health providers used psychedelics to help patients open up about difficult memories. Then the drugs were banned—but now there’s a resurgence. Psychedelics like MDMA, psilocybin, and ketamine are being studied as solutions for anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Findings show that drugs like MDMA are especially useful in the context of healing from trauma.”

Already, cities in the U.S. (Denver, Oakland, Santa Cruz and Ann Arbor among others) have decriminalized psilocybin. This means people won’t be charged with a crime for possession or use.

To me, it seems like if there are drugs available to help people, then it’s time to make them available as well as thoroughly study them.

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