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mental health mondays :: the real question is, why aren't you on mushrooms?

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this is getting ridiculous.

i just wrote a post about new research on psychedelics and their potential application as mental health treatments, including the results of a  massive study that showed that there was no evidence of harmful effects caused by taking psychedelic drugs.

normally, i don't like to return to a topic so quickly, but i found an article published this week relating to an even larger study at johns hopkins university that comes to an even more shocking conclusion: psychedelics may help prevent you from developing certain mental disorders to begin with.

while scientists can't say definitively that it's because of psychedelic drug use, those who reported using them had significantly reduced rates of psychological distress, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. it's possible, of course, that people who choose to do psychedelics are more emotionally stable and mentally healthier anyway. use of psychedelics was concentrated among people with higher income and education [in the united states, higher education levels are usually indicative of coming from a higher income family] and since poverty is always positively correlated to depression, there is some reason to question if those who have taken psychedelics just come from a happier place.

however, the study's authors say that, even taking cultural factors into account, there is still reason to believe that taking psychedelic drugs may well improve mental health, a finding which would emphasize how different psychedelics are from the other substances with which they are currently classified. after all, lifetime use of every other type of drug has just the opposite effect: people who do other drugs have a higher risk of mental illness than people who do no drugs at all.

furthermore, while scientists acknowledge that there are certainly negative experiences or "bad trips" [heightened paranoia, anxiety, etc., as well as the worsening of existing psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia], the instances of those are rare compared to those who seem to experience benefits. [the ratio of risk to reward is, for good reason, a standard part of determining whether a drug is safe for human consumption. no drug on the market is completely safe, but figuring out how likely it is to cause various problems helps decide how controlled it needs to be.] in other words, the presumed negative effects are much less and the demonstrable positive effects much more frequent than we've been led to believe. [of course, those who take psychedelics have been saying for years that there was a positive, perspective-changing experience to be had from them, it's just that now science is proving that they were right all along.]

the more research that's done, the less tenable the arguments for keeping these drugs in the highest echelon of restricted substances* become. and the more that mental health issues start to impact the economy, the greater the possibility that even traditional opponents of relaxing drug laws will start to change their minds.

new topic next week, i swear.

* mostly. of the "big two" psychedelics, lsd and psilocybin [magic mushrooms], lsd is completely illegal almost everywhere. however, mushrooms are a more localised matter. in the czech republic and british virgin islands, simple possession is legal. in the netherlands, everything to do with psilocybin is technically illegal, but there is a loophole that allows certain establishments to sell it. in spain and brazil, it's all legal. you can buy, sell, carry, consume and cultivate magic mushrooms and no authority will stop you.  even in the united states and canada, there is a weird workaround that makes it legal to buy spores and grow kits, even though actually cultivating anything from those kits would be illegal. sadly, the trend has been toward greater restriction in the last twenty years, which is a bummer if you want to take them for fun and a huge impediment if you want to do any psilocybin research. get the full story here.

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