Mind-Altering Drugs News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Mind-Altering Drugs News Articles in Media
The psychedelic drug in magic mushrooms may have lasting medical and spiritual benefits, according to new research from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The mushroom-derived hallucinogen, called psilocybin, is known to trigger transformative spiritual states, but at high doses it can also result in "bad trips" marked by terror and panic. "The important point here is that we found the sweet spot where we can optimize the positive persistent effects and avoid some of the fear and anxiety that can occur and can be quite disruptive," says lead author Roland Griffiths, professor of behavioral biology at Hopkins. Giffiths' study involved 18 healthy adults, average age 46. Nearly all the volunteers were college graduates and 78% participated regularly in religious activities; all were interested in spiritual experience. Fourteen months after participating in the study, 94% of those who received the drug said the experiment was one of the top five most meaningful experiences of their lives; 39% said it was the single most meaningful experience. The participants themselves were not the only ones who saw the benefit from the insights they gained: their friends, family member and colleagues also reported that the psilocybin experience had made the participants calmer, happier and kinder.
[In 1977's] Senate hearings about CIA abuses ... one of the witnesses described a government drug-testing programme known as MKULTRA, which had used innocent Americans selected as human guinea pigs. This CIA-sponsored 'research' directly violated the Nuremberg Code [which] stipulates that patients must give 'informed consent' before any experimentation may begin. [The] architect of MKULTRA, Sidney Gottlieb [testified] about the policy of spiking the drinks of unsuspecting Americans [with LSD]. Ultimately, Gottlieb would admit that MKULTRA tested an array of techniques and substances on dozens of unsuspecting people, and there may well have been hundreds. Gottlieb ... personally spiked the drinks of scientists working with him. An Army scientist, Frank Olson, was given a massive dose and ... ended up jumping through the 10th-floor window of a Manhattan hotel. Gottlieb asked a government narcotics agent named George White to begin testing hallucinogens on unsuspecting citizens. White, a hard-drinking, fast-living man ... began dosing unwitting guinea pigs in autumn 1952. He would later, with Gottlieb's approval, set up safe houses in New York and San Francisco where he played host to prostitutes, drug dealers and their customers and handed the unsuspecting guests drinks laced with LSD. In a 1953 memo to a researcher, Gottlieb gave an indication of the kinds of mind control issues he was interested in -- for both offensive and defensive purposes: 'Disturbance of memory; discrediting by aberrant behaviour; alteration of sex patterns; eliciting of information.' Gottlieb and his boss, Richard Helms -- in an unprecedented and controversial move -- ordered all MKULTRA records destroyed in 1973. A few financial records survived.
Note: Though the CIA denies that mind control techniques were successful, an abundance of evidence suggests otherwise. For a powerful two-page summary of this evidence, click here. For major media articles, key documentaries, and other verifiable information on the secret mind control programs, see our Mind Control Information Center available here.
In Silicon Valley, there is a premium on creativity, and tools thought to induce or enhance it are avidly sought. Some view psychedelics as ... a way to approach problems differently. There's no definitive scientific evidence that LSD or other hallucinogens improve creativity, and the DEA classifies LSD as a highly addictive, Schedule I drug. But the belief that they might work as a creative tool is enough to fuel some technologists' hope for professional epiphanies. Tim Ferriss, a Silicon Valley investor and author of "The 4-Hour Workweek," says he knows many successful entrepreneurs who dabble in psychedelics. "The billionaires I know, almost without exception, use hallucinogens on a regular basis," Ferriss said. "[They're] trying to be very disruptive and look at the problems in the world ... and ask completely new questions." The phenomenon was satirized on HBO's Silicon Valley when psychedelic mushrooms guide one of the show's main characters in the hunt for a new name for their startup. A recent study at Imperial College London provides a possible explanation. Twenty participants ingested LSD and then had their brain activity monitored in an fMRI machine. The drug [allowed] new patterns of communication to form. "Psychedelics dismantle 'well-worn' networks, and this allows novel communication patterns to occur. Modules that don't usually talk to each other are talking to each other more," explained Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, the researcher who conducted the study.
Note: Food justice champion Michael Pollan recently wrote a fascinating article prominently featured in the venerable magazine The New Yorker about the amazing power of psilocybin mushrooms to create profound healing in carefully controlled environments. It is subtitled "Research into psychedelics, shut down for decades, is now yielding exciting results." Are the healing potentials of mind altering drugs finally starting to receive honest mainstream attention?
Three and a half years ago, on my 62nd birthday, doctors discovered a mass on my pancreas. It turned out to be Stage 3 pancreatic cancer. I was told I would be dead in four to six months. Today I am in that rare coterie of people who have survived this long with the disease. But I did not foresee that after having dedicated myself for 40 years to a life of the law, including more than two decades as a New York State judge, my quest for ameliorative and palliative care would lead me to marijuana. My survival has demanded an enormous price, including months of chemotherapy, radiation hell and brutal surgery. Inhaled marijuana is the only medicine that gives me some relief from nausea, stimulates my appetite, and makes it easier to fall asleep. The oral synthetic substitute, Marinol, prescribed by my doctors, was useless. Rather than watch the agony of my suffering, friends have chosen, at some personal risk, to provide the substance. I find a few puffs of marijuana before dinner gives me ammunition in the battle to eat. A few more puffs at bedtime permits desperately needed sleep. This is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and a human rights issue. Being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, I am receiving the absolute gold standard of medical care. But doctors cannot be expected to do what the law prohibits, even when they know it is in the best interests of their patients. When palliative care is understood as a fundamental human and medical right, marijuana for medical use should be beyond controversy.
Note: The author is Gustin L. Reichbach, who is a justice of the New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn. For lots more from reliable sources on the benefits of many mind-altering drugs, click here.
For Jon Lubecky, the scars on his wrists are a reminder of the years he spent in mental purgatory. He returned from an Army deployment in Iraq a broken man. He got every treatment offered by Veterans Affairs for post-traumatic stress disorder. But they didn’t stop him from trying to kill himself - five times. Finally, he signed up for an experimental therapy and was given a little green capsule. The anguish stopped. Inside that pill was the compound MDMA, better known ... as ecstasy. That street drug is emerging as the most promising tool in years for the military’s escalating PTSD epidemic. The MDMA program was created by a small group of psychedelic researchers who had toiled for years in the face of ridicule, funding shortages and skepticism. But the results have been so positive that this month the Food and Drug Administration deemed it a “breakthrough therapy” - setting it on a fast track for review and potential approval. Only two drugs are approved for treating PTSD: Zoloft and Paxil. Both have proved largely ineffective. By giving doses of MDMA at the beginning of three, eight-hour therapy sessions, researchers say they have helped chronic PTSD patients process and move past their traumas. In clinical trials with 107 patients closely monitored by the FDA, 61 percent reported major reductions in symptoms - to the point where they no longer fit the criteria for PTSD. Follow-up studies a year later found 67 percent no longer had PTSD.
Note: Read more about how MDMA has been found effective for treating PTSD in a therapeutic context. Articles like this suggest that the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs are gaining mainstream scientific credibility.
Jackson Leyden had always been a healthy kid. But in 2011, a few months after his eighth birthday, he began having seizures several times a day. His parents took him to more than 20 doctors. He tried more than a dozen medications. Nothing worked. Two years ago, the Leydens ... decided to see whether marijuana might help. “Within a few days, he was having hardly any seizures,” says his mother, Lisa. “I was shocked.” Over the next few months, he stopped taking other medications. Not only did the medicine help, it did so without making him high. The strain of marijuana that Jackson takes is unusual: It contains high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, one of the two main molecules in marijuana; the other is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. While THC is famously mind-altering, CBD is not. Over decades, researchers have found that THC may help treat pain, nausea, loss of appetite and other problems, while CBD was thought to be biologically inactive. But in the past 10 years ... dozens of studies have found evidence that the compound can treat epilepsy as well as a range of other illnesses, including anxiety, schizophrenia, heart disease and cancer. Now 13, Jackson ... continues to use marijuana every day. He still has seizures, but they are less severe and they occur once every week or two, down from around 200 a month before he started using cannabis. Although it doesn’t make users high, CBD ... is classified by the federal government as a Schedule 1 drug [with] no accepted medical use.
Note: While more people are arrested in the US for marijuana use than for all violent crimes combined and the US federal government continues to regard non-psychoactive CBD as a dangerous drug, the UK government recently announced it will regulate CBD as medicine. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
On a summer morning in 2013, Octavian Mihai entered a softly lit room. He swallowed a capsule of psilocybin, an ingredient found in hallucinogenic mushrooms. Then he put on an eye mask and headphones and lay down on a couch. Mr. Mihai, who had just finished treatment for Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was participating in a study looking at whether the drug can reduce anxiety and depression in cancer patients. Throughout that eight-hour session, a psychiatrist and a social worker ... stayed by his side. The results from that study, and a similar small, controlled trial, were striking. About 80 percent of cancer patients showed clinically significant reductions in both psychological disorders, a response sustained some seven months after the single dose. Side effects were minimal. In both trials, the intensity of the mystical experience described by patients correlated with the degree to which their depression and anxiety decreased. Although cancer patients will not have access to therapeutically administered psilocybin anytime soon, the findings add vigor to applications to expand research in a multicenter trial with hundreds of participants. Psilocybin trials are underway in the United States and Europe for alcoholism, tobacco addiction and treatment-resistant depression. Other hallucinogens are also being studied for clinical application. This week, the Food and Drug Administration approved a large-scale trial investigating MDMA, the illegal party drug better known as Ecstasy, for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Note: See another article in the UK's Independent showing remarkable results from these studies. Learn more about the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs now being explored by the scientific community.
After three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, C. J. Hardin wound up hiding from the world. He had tried almost all the accepted treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder. “Nothing worked for me,” said Mr. Hardin. Then, in 2013, he joined a small drug trial testing whether PTSD could be treated with MDMA, the illegal party drug better known as Ecstasy. “It changed my life,” he said. “It allowed me to see my trauma without fear or hesitation and finally process things and move forward.” Based on promising results like Mr. Hardin’s, the Food and Drug Administration gave permission Tuesday for large-scale, Phase 3 clinical trials of the drug - a final step before the possible approval of Ecstasy as a prescription drug. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a small nonprofit created in 1985 ... sponsored six Phase 2 studies treating a total of 130 PTSD patients. Two trials ... focused on treating combat veterans, sexual assault victims, and police and firefighters with PTSD who had not responded to traditional prescription drugs or psychotherapy. Patients had, on average, struggled with symptoms for 17 years. After three doses of MDMA administered under a psychiatrist’s guidance, the patients reported a 56 percent decrease of severity of symptoms on average, one study found. By the end of the study, two-thirds no longer met the criteria for having PTSD. Follow-up examinations found that improvements lasted more than a year after therapy.
Note: Read more about how MDMA has been found effective for treating PTSD in a therapeutic context. This FDA approval to begin Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA suggests that the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs are gaining mainstream scientific credibility.
The profound impact of LSD on the brain has been laid bare by the first modern scans of people high on the drug. The images, taken from volunteers ... revealed that trippers experienced images through information drawn from many parts of their brains. Under the drug, regions once segregated spoke to one another. Further images showed that other brain regions that usually form a network became more separated in a change that accompanied users’ feelings of oneness with the world, a loss of personal identity called “ego dissolution”. David Nutt, the government’s former drugs advisor ... and senior researcher on the study, said, “This is to neuroscience what the Higgs boson was to particle physics.” [Study co-author Robin] Carhart-Harris said, “We saw many more areas of the brain than normal were contributing to visual processing under LSD, even though volunteers’ eyes were closed.” The more prominent the effect, the more intense people rated their dreamlike visions. Under the influence, brain networks that deal with vision, attention, movement and hearing became far more connected. But at the same time, other networks broke down. The drug can be seen as reversing the more restricted thinking we develop from infancy to adulthood. The study could pave the way for LSD or related chemicals to be used to treat psychiatric disorders. Nutt said the drug could pull the brain out of thought patterns seen in depression and addiction through its effects on brain networks.
Note: For more, see an NPR article titled "How LSD Makes Your Brain One With The Universe". This ground-breaking study appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. While the war on drugs has been called a "trillion dollar failure", studies like this suggest the healing potentials of mind altering drugs are starting to be investigated more scientifically.
A group of 22 medical experts convened by Johns Hopkins University and The Lancet have called today for the decriminalization of all nonviolent drug use and possession. The experts further encourage countries and U.S. states to "move gradually toward regulated drug markets and apply the scientific method to their assessment." Their report comes ahead of a special UN General Assembly Session on drugs to be held next month. In a lengthy review of the state of global drug policy, the Hopkins-Lancet experts conclude that the prohibitionist anti-drug policies of the past 50 years "directly and indirectly contribute to lethal violence, disease, discrimination, forced displacement, injustice and the undermining of people’s right to health. "The goal of prohibiting all use, possession, production and trafficking of illicit drugs is the basis of many of our national drug laws, but these policies are based on ideas about drug use and drug dependence that are not scientifically grounded," said Commissioner Dr. Chris Beyrer. "The idea that all drug use is necessarily 'abuse' means that immediate and complete abstinence has been seen as the only acceptable approach," commissioner Adeeba Kamarulzaman ... said. But, she added, "continued criminalization of drug use fuels HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis transmission within prisons and the community at large. There is another way. Programmes and policies aimed at reducing harm should be central to future drug policies."
Note: While the war on drugs has been called a "trillion dollar failure", and the healing potentials of mind altering drugs are starting to be investigated more openly, there remains powerful evidence that the CIA and US military are directly involved in the drug trade.
In the 1950s through the early ’70s, research began to show that psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, could be quite effective at treating mental health disorders like addiction. Then ... the so-called “war on drugs” began. For nearly a generation, science on these substances shut down. But that’s changing. In the past 20 years or so, a small amount of research has once again begun to focus on these chemicals, showing that they have promise for treating a range of conditions, from addiction to depression and anxiety, says Evan Wood, a psychiatric researcher at the University of British Columbia. In 2006, researchers at the University of Arizona published a study showing obsessive-compulsive patients who ingested psilocybin had immediate and lasting reductions in problematic symptoms. The same year, Johns Hopkins University physician and researcher Roland Griffiths showed that in healthy volunteers, psilocybin produced lasting benefits like improved mood and peacefulness six months after ingestion. Similar work has shown psilocybin can help treat anxiety associated with cancer, at UCLA and New York University. And a study in late 2014 found that LSD permanently reduced anxiety in a small number of patients. Wood says he’s most excited about research into using psychedelics to treat addiction. He published a review on September 8 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal covering recent work in this field.
Note: For more about the therapeutic uses of psychedelic drugs, see these concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles from reliable sources.
Over the last year, I [CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta] have been working on a new documentary called "Weed." The title "Weed" may sound cavalier, but the content is not. I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning. Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled "Why I would Vote No on Pot." Well, I am here to apologize. I apologize because I didn't look hard enough, until now. I didn't look far enough. I didn't review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have "no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse." They didn't have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn't have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works.
Note: This article was authored by CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. For more on the proven benefits from many mind-altering drugs, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
On Nov. 28, 1953, Frank Olson, a ... 42-year-old government scientist, plunged to his death from room 1018A in New York's Statler Hotel. [Twenty-two] years later, the Rockefeller Commission report was released, detailing a litany of domestic abuses committed by the CIA. The ugly truth emerged: Olson's death was the result of his having been surreptitiously dosed with LSD days earlier by his colleagues. The belated 1975 [admission] ... generated more interest into a series of wildly implausible "mind control" experiments on an unsuspecting populace over three decades. Much of this plot unfolded here, in New York, according to H.P. Albarelli Jr., author of A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments. Albarelli spent more than a decade sifting through more than 100,000 pages of government documents and his most startling chestnut might be his claim that the intelligence community conducted aerosol tests of LSD inside the New York City subway system. "The experiment was pretty shocking — shocking that the CIA and the Army would release LSD like that, among innocent unwitting folks," Albarelli told The Post. An Olson colleague, Dr. Henry Eigelsbach, confirmed to Albarelli that the LSD subway test did, in fact, occur in November 1950, albeit on a smaller scale than first planned. Little, however, is known about the test — what line, how many people and what happened.
John K. Vance [was] a member of the Central Intelligence Agency inspector general's staff in the early 1960s who discovered that the agency was running a research project that included administering LSD and other drugs to unwitting human subjects. Code-named MKULTRA (and pronounced m-k-ultra), the project Mr. Vance uncovered was the brainchild of CIA Director Allen Dulles, who was intrigued by reports of mind-control techniques allegedly conducted by Soviet, Chinese and North Korean agents on U.S. prisoners of war during the Korean War. The CIA wanted to use similar techniques on its own POWs and perhaps use LSD or other mind-bending substances on foreign leaders, including Cuba's Fidel Castro a few years after the project got underway in 1953. Heading MKULTRA was a CIA chemist named Sidney Gottlieb. In congressional testimony, Gottlieb, who died in 1999, acknowledged that the agency had administered LSD to as many as 40 unwitting subjects, including prison inmates and patrons of brothels set up and run by the agency. At least one participant died when he jumped out of a 10th-floor window in a hotel; others claimed to have suffered serious psychological damage. Mr. Vance learned about MKULTRA in the spring of 1963 during a wide-ranging inspector general survey of the agency's technical services division. The inspector general's report said: "The concepts involved in manipulating human behavior are found by many people both within and outside the agency to be distasteful and unethical." MKULTRA came to public light in 1977 as a result of hearings conducted by a Senate committee on intelligence chaired by Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho).
Note: If the above link fails, click here. For an excellent two-page summary of reliable verifiable information on CIA mind control programs which clearly violated ethical and moral standards, click here.
As eight states plus the District of Columbia have moved to fully legalize recreational marijuana, debates on the merits of legalization have focused on the effects of marijuana use on individuals and society. The National Academies of Sciences, Medicine and Engineering have brought a great deal of clarity to the situation with an encyclopedic report summarizing pretty much everything researchers know (and don't know) about the health effects of marijuana use. For the 395-page report, a team of dozens of drug policy experts at some of the nation's most prestigious universities analyzed 24,000 scientific papers to arrive at more than 100 conclusions regarding the effects of marijuana use. The committee found strong evidence showing marijuana is effective at treating chronic pain in adults. Given the current public health crisis involving tens of thousands of deaths annually because of painkiller overdoses, this is a potentially significant finding. The report also turned up strong evidence that marijuana is effective at treating nausea and vomiting, [as well as] muscle spasticity. The literature shows limited evidence that marijuana use is linked to the use of other substances. The report does not address the implications of these findings for current legalization debates. The researchers do, however, state emphatically that the current designation of marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance ... is one of the chief barriers to conducting more badly needed research.
Note: Big Pharma has been caught systematically bribing doctors to over-prescribe deadly painkillers, and an ex-DEA official has publicly accused Congress of helping drug makers avoid responsibility for their role in the US opioid epidemic. Meanwhile, more people are arrested in the US for marijuana use than for all violent crimes combined. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and health.
Painkiller abuse and overdose are lower in states with medical marijuana laws. When medical marijuana is available, pain patients are increasingly choosing pot over powerful and deadly prescription narcotics. Now a new study [provides] clear evidence of a missing link in the causal chain running from medical marijuana to falling overdoses. Researchers at the University of Georgia scoured the database of all prescription drugs paid for under Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2013. In the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law. They found that, in medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication. But most strikingly, the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year. Estimating the cost savings to Medicare from the decreased prescribing, [the study] found that about $165 million was saved in the 17 medical marijuana states in 2013. The estimated annual Medicare prescription savings would be nearly half a billion dollars if all 50 states were to implement similar programs.
Note: The war on drugs has been called a "trillion dollar failure", and an increasing number of deaths are caused by prescription opioid overdose in the US each year. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
In recent years, researchers have sought to rescue hallucinogens from exile by examining their efficacy in treating certain disorders of the mind. Psychoactive substances, often derived from mushrooms, have been part of human cultures ... for thousands of years. In the 1950s and ’60s, researchers assiduously explored LSD as a tool for treating mental illness and various addictions. The Central Intelligence Agency tested the drug’s possibilities as a truth serum or perhaps a vehicle for mind control. Prohibitions against LSD and brethren hallucinogens, like psilocybin and mescaline, were codified in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Soon enough, serious scientific exploration of psychedelics dried up. In recent years, though, mind-bending drugs have begun tiptoeing back into the research mainstream. Modern scientists are ... studying hallucinogens’ potential to help smokers kick the habit, to undo addictions to drugs and alcohol, to cope with cluster headaches and depression, and to deal with obsessive-compulsive and post-traumatic stress disorders. Institutions where such work is underway include New York University; Johns Hopkins University; the University of California, Los Angeles; Psychiatric University Hospital in Zurich; and Imperial College in London. Hallucinogens, while not addictive, remain officially taboo everywhere. Nonetheless ... if carefully administered, [some researchers] say, hallucinogens can reorient patients’ perceptions of their place in the universe and pull them out of ruts of negative thinking.
Note: Watch a 13-minute New York Times video on the return of psychedelics as a powerful healing modality. While the war on drugs has been called a "trillion dollar failure", articles like this suggest the healing potentials of mind altering drugs are starting to be investigated more scientifically.
Some users of LSD say one of the most profound parts of the experience is a deep oneness with the universe. The sensation ... correlates to changes in brain connectivity while on LSD, according to a study published Wednesday in Current Biology. An MRI scanner [showed that] the brains of people on acid looked markedly different than those on the placebo. Their sensory cortices, which process sensations like sight and touch, became far more connected than usual to the frontal parietal network, which is involved with our sense of self. "The stronger that communication, the stronger the experience of the dissolution (of self)," says Enzo Tagliazucchi, the [study's] lead author. Researchers also measured the volunteers' brain electrical activity with another device. Our brains normally generate a regular rhythm of electrical activity called the alpha rhythm, which links to our brain's ability to suppress irrelevant activity. But in a different paper published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he and several co-authors show that LSD weakens the alpha rhythm. He thinks this weakening could make the hallucinations seem more real. The idea is intriguing ... says Dr. Charles Grob, a psychiatrist at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. "They may genuinely be on to something. This should really further our understanding of the brain and consciousness." And, he says, the work highlights hallucinogens' powerful therapeutic potential.
In 1970, Congress dropped psychedelics into the war on drugs. The federal government declared that the drugs had no medical use - and high potential for abuse. Over the past decade, some scientists have begun to challenge that conclusion. Far from being harmful, they found, hallucinogens can help sick people: They helped alcoholics drink less; terminal patients eased more gently into death. And it’s not just the infirm who are helped by the drugs. They can help us solve problems more creatively and make us more open-minded and generous. Scientists think [that] when someone takes a psychedelic, there is a decrease in blood flow and electrical activity in the brain’s “default mode network,” [which] is primarily responsible for our ego or sense of self. When we trip, our default mode network slows down. With the ego out of commission, the boundaries between self and world, subject and object dissolve. Robin Carhart-Harris, a neuroscientist with Imperial College London, notes that the default mode network is responsible for a lot of our rigid, habitual thinking and obsessions. Psychedelics help relax the part of the brain that leads us to obsess. And they can help “loosen if not break” the entrenched physical circuits responsible for addictive behavior. Steve Jobs famously said that taking LSD “was one of the most important things in my life.” The entrepreneur Tim Ferriss said that “the billionaires I know, almost without exception, use hallucinogens on a regular basis.”
About 8 percent of Americans experience PTSD; for veterans, that number is 30 percent. Treatment is notoriously difficult, but people could find relief in an unusual form: psychedelic drugs. MDMA - found in molly and ecstasy - earned a bad rap in the 1990s as ravers’ drug of choice. But psychotherapists are coming to value the way it increases empathy while decreasing fear and defensiveness. “MDMA gives people the ability to revisit an event that’s still painful without being overwhelmed,” says psychiatrist Michael Mithoefer. Following a recent MDMA trial, 83 percent of his treatment-resistant participants no longer showed symptoms of PTSD. In one study, Mithoefer worked with a New York City firefighter post-9/11. The subject had tried treatment before. While undergoing a popular method that uses eye movement to reprocess a trauma, he’d been so overcome that he ripped a sink off the wall. MDMA, however, worked. “It wasn’t easy for him,” Mithoefer says. “But our sink is still attached.” MDMA isn’t a one-trick pony either; it can treat end-of-life anxiety and alcoholism, and it’s not addictive. “We’re talking about the rise of a whole field of medicine,” says Rick Doblin, founder of the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which is running a handful of MDMA trials, including Mithoefer’s. Doblin thinks the FDA will greenlight the drug for mainstream use by 2021.
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