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Psychiatrist James Rucker is making a case for declassifying psychedelic drugs so their therapeutic potential can be studied.
Rucker, an honorary lecturer at King’s College London, believes psychedelics should be classified as Schedule II substances, allowing their medicinal value for psychiatric disorders to be researched.
Since 1967, psychedelics have been classified as Class A, Schedule I substances, making their use for recreational or therapeutic purposes illegal.
“The Western world is facing an epidemic of mental health problems with few novel therapeutic prospects on the horizon,” said Rucker. “The problem at the moment is that we don’t know who would benefit and who wouldn’t. The law does a good job of preventing us from finding out.”
Though he recognizes psychedelics may be harmful to some individuals, Rucker believes studying their benefits for mental health issues is important.
To ensure the safe application of psychedelics during medical trials, he proposes the following four guidelines:
These precautions should allow the safe administration of psychedelics for symptom relief of depression, anxiety, or PTSD. However, fears about using these drugs may be largely unfounded. A study completed by Norwegian researchers concluded that reports of psychedelics’ ill-effects are exaggerated.
“After adjusting for other risk factors, lifetime use of LSD, psilocybin, mescaline or peyote, or past year use of LSD was not associated with a higher rate of mental health problems or receiving mental health treatment,” said researcher and clinical psychologist Pal-Orjan Johansen.
Symptom relief is possible with psychedelics because they create a state of neural plasticity in the brain, allowing changes in thought processing, perception, and self awareness. They spark insight into problematic cycles of behavior, feeling, and thought.
“These cycles can then be faced, expressed, explored, interpreted, accepted and finally integrated back into the person’s psyche with the therapist’s help,” says Rucker.
Although the use of psychedelics might be a polarizing issue among mental health professionals, those with symptoms unrelieved by prevailing medications or treatment methods may welcome this potential therapeutic option.
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