Mind-Altering Drugs News StoriesExcerpts of Key Mind-Altering Drugs News Stories in Major Media
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Psychedelic medicine is having a moment. Just weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Johnson & Johnson’s ketamine-like nasal spray for depression, a group of European technology investors ... got together for the largest-ever private financing round for a psychedelic medicine biotech company, ATAI. Psychedelic medicine involves research and investigations into mind-altering substances to treat mental illnesses including addiction, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. After recreational use of psychedelics became popular in the 1960s, the U.S. government classified most of them “drugs of abuse” with no real medical value. However, recent clinical studies show mounting evidence that some psychedelics can help patients with certain mental illnesses, either in combination with traditional therapies or in cases where nothing else has worked. Now health and technology investors are paying attention. German company ATAI Life Sciences announced on Tuesday that it has raised more than $40 million in new financing. The round valued the company at $240 million, according to a person familiar, making it both the biggest round and the most valuable company in the young space. ATAI is currently funding clinical trials for what it refers to as “formerly stigmatized compounds,” including psilocybin, the active compound in psychedelic mushrooms, and arketamine, a different variant of ketamine from the one Johnson & Johnson researched, as potential treatments for depression.
Note: Articles like this suggest that the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs are gaining mainstream scientific credibility.
CBD, the non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, hemp and hops, has been getting a lot of attention from the media recently. On the other hand, THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis that makes people feel “high” or “stoned,” is often overlooked (and sometimes even looked down on) when discussing marijuana’s medical potential. However, a new study ... published on the Scientific Reports journal on Tuesday, revealed that THC exhibited the “strongest correlation with therapeutic relief, compared to the more socially acceptable chemical found in cannabis, CBD (cannabinol).” Cannabinoid content, and especially THC content, came out as the main factor for optimizing symptom relief, when tested for a wide variety of health conditions. [Study co-author Jacob Miguel] Vigil explained the results derived from the observation of real-time data from Releaf App, which he qualified as “the largest database of its kind in our country.” Using the app, patients reported the results and effects of their actual cannabis use. The researchers discovered cannabis is more effective for the treatment of mental symptoms like agitation, irritability, anxiety, depression, excessive appetite, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, gastrointestinal pain, stress and tremors, than it is in the treatment of physical ailments. Despite the conventional wisdom ... that only CBD has medical benefits while THC merely makes one high, our results suggest that THC may be more important than CBD in generating therapeutic benefits.
MDMA, the principal ingredient in the party drug ecstasy, is about to give a lifeline to some of the worst sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Israel. The U.S. could be just years behind in launching similar clinical treatments using the substance. Israel’s Ministry of Health has approved the use of MDMA, a psychoactive drug, for use on dozens of patients. While the drug is still on the country’s law books as dangerous for recreational use, it is now being administered as treatment for compassionate use. In compassionate cases the drug will be made available to patients outside of clinical trials if they have not responded sufficiently to other medications or treatments. MDMA makes people feel euphoric, a sensation that made its use synonymous with rave culture and EDM (Electronic Dance Music), because it floods the body with serotonin. Serotonin is produced by nerve cells. When levels are low it can lead to depression and disrupt other physiological processes. The launching of the new Israeli initiative is a direct result of groundbreaking research in the U.S. The Middle Eastern nation approved the program after sending a representative to the California-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) for training. MDMA has been illegal in the U.S. since 1985 but the findings of clinical trials, ongoing with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval since 2001, have shown that the drug enhances the treatment of PTSD in a clinical setting.
Note: Read also a CBC article titled "How psychedelic drugs are changing lives and transforming psychiatry." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing mind altering drugs news articles from reliable major media sources.
Dead Dog on the Left isn’t just a documentary about the use of ecstasy in treating PTSD, it’s a story of the lengths one former marine will go to for friendship. [Tyler] McCourry and [Nigel] Flanigan are the subjects of [the] mini-documentary taken from a forthcoming feature film, MDMA the Movie, which explores the history of the so-called “party drug” more popularly known as ecstasy, its use in therapy, and harm reduction. Both films are directed by Emanuel Sferios. His protagonists may have survived the Iraq war, but only barely. Suicidal thoughts have stalked them both. In May 2012 McCourry did his first [MDMA-assisted psychotherapy] session ... lying in bed, flanked by two therapists. At the beginning of the session he was given a 75mg dose of MDMA. “During those eight hours you’re addressing the most challenging situations in your life,” he says. “It feels very exhausting, like it was some of the most work you’ve ever done in one day.” McCourry calls those trials, now completed, “a transformation of the psyche”. MDMA-assisted psychotherapy has “breakthrough therapy” designation by the FDA. “Since the MDMA therapy I’m able to recognise when something comes up that I need to talk about,” [McCourry] says. McCourry hopes that the therapy will be adopted by the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense. “If you can cure PTSD after three sessions of MDMA therapy then you don’t have to provide a veteran with medications for the rest of their life and talk therapy once a month.”
Note: A touching 26-documentary on this case is available at the above link. Articles like this suggest that the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs are gaining mainstream scientific credibility.
MDMA, the active ingredient of ecstasy pills, makes people more inclined to cooperate on tasks and quicker to rebuild trust, according to researchers investigating its use in treating psychological disorders. Scans reveal it increases activity in parts of the brain linked to empathy and social behaviour that helps interpret other people’s beliefs and intentions, researchers from King’s College London said. This could make it a useful addition to psychotherapy sessions and the drug is currently undergoing medical trials to assess its use in supporting treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “Understanding the brain activity underlying social behaviour could help identify what goes wrong in psychiatric conditions,” said Professor Mitul Mehta from the King’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN). While it is possible that making users more helpful and collaborative could lead to them being exploited, Professor Mehta and his team found the drug did not make users gullible. During the study ... participants on MDMA were less likely to cheat their partners than those on the placebo. Where they had previously been cheated ... subjects on MDMA were as likely to act selfishly as those on a placebo, however they were quicker to trust these partners again after a run of cooperation. This was backed up with patterns of brain activity.
This week, life sciences company COMPASS Pathways announced that it has received “Breakthrough Therapy” designation from the United States Food and Drug Administration for its psilocybin therapy aimed at individuals with treatment-resistant depression. Psilocybin, the main active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms ... can alter one’s perception, thoughts and feelings or cause hallucinations. Researchers from Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the U.S. have been studying the therapy for many years. In fact, a study published in January found that the psychoactive compound helped revive emotional responsiveness in patients with treatment-resistant depression. Another showed that patients’ mental benefits after two psilocybin treatments lasted for weeks. COMPASS Pathways will begin running the first large-scale psilocybin clinical trial for treatment-resistant depression in Europe and North America within the next two years. "This is great news for patients,” COMPASS executive chairman George Goldsmith said. “We are excited to be taking this work forward with our clinical trial. The FDA will be working closely with us to expedite the development process and increase the chances of getting this treatment to people suffering with depression as quickly as possible.” While treatments such as antidepressants and psychotherapy exist, those with severe, treatment-resistant depression ... have trouble finding help. Approximately 100 million around the globe are affected by such treatment-resistant depression.
Note: In 2017, the psychoactive drug MDMA similarly received a "Breakthrough Therapy" designation from the FDA for the promise it shows in treating PTSD. Articles like this suggest that the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs are gaining mainstream scientific credibility.
It's the little things that Jon Lubecky appreciates now, like playing a board game with his family. But it wasn't always that way for the former Army sniper, who came home in 2006 after nearly a year in Iraq with a traumatic brain injury from a mortar attack and a nasty case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Traditional treatments, including the use of antidepressants like Zoloft, were useless. Over three sessions, Lubecky spent six to eight hours under the influence of MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy. Finally, Lubecky was able to talk about his trauma and thus make progress dealing with it. Rick Doblin runs the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, a non-profit advocating for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. "It starts by reducing activity in the amygdala, which is the fear-processing part of the brain, so that people's fearful emotions linked to trauma can be more easily recalled and processed," Doblin said. Once the drug produces feelings of safety, veterans can then access memories which had been crippling before. While one in three veterans found pills like Zoloft and Paxil effective in treating their PTSD, a study including 24 veterans showed PTSD was eliminated in 68 percent of vets treated with MDMA-assisted therapy and significantly reduced in the other 32 percent. MDMA-assisted therapy is now about to begin its third phase of FDA testing. If all goes well, MDMA will be available by prescription as early as 2021.
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Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have recommended that psilocybin, the active compound in hallucinogenic mushrooms, be reclassified for medical use, potentially paving the way for the psychedelic drug to one day treat depression and anxiety. The suggestion to reclassify psilocybin from a Schedule I drug, with no known medical benefit, to a Schedule IV drug, which is akin to prescription sleeping pills, was part of a review to assess the safety and abuse of medically administered psilocybin. Before the Food and Drug Administration can be petitioned to reclassify the drug, though, it has to clear extensive study and trials, which can take more than five years, the researchers wrote. The study comes as many Americans shift their attitudes toward the use of some illegal drugs. The widespread legalization of marijuana has helped demystify drug use, with many people now recognizing the medicinal benefits for those with anxiety, arthritis and other physical ailments. Psychedelics, like LSD and psilocybin, are illegal and not approved for medical or recreational use. But in recent years scientists and consumers have begun rethinking their use to combat depression and anxiety. Researchers who conducted the new study included Roland R. Griffiths, a professor ... at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who is one of the most prominent researchers on the behavioral and subjective effects of mood-altering drugs.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on mind-altering drugs.
The psychoactive drug known as ecstasy can make people feel extra loving toward others. A study published Thursday suggests it has the same effect on octopuses. Octopuses are almost entirely antisocial, except when they're mating. Scientists who study them have to house them separately so they don't kill or eat each other. However, octopuses given the drug known as MDMA (or ecstasy, E, Molly or a number of other slang terms) wanted to spend more time close to other octopuses and even hugged them. Octopuses' ... brains have a host of strange structures that evolved on a completely different trajectory from the human path. "They have this huge complex brain that ... has absolutely no business acting like ours does — but here they show that it does," says [neuroscientist Judit] Pungor. "This ... gentle, cuddly behavior is really pretty fascinating." The idea to test the drug's effect in octopuses came from Gul Dolen, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University. "My lab has been studying MDMA for a long time, she says, "and we have worked out a lot of neural mechanisms that enable MDMA to have ... pro-social effects." Dolen got interested in octopuses a few years ago, when scientists sequenced the full genetic code of a ... California two-spot octopus. It turns out that octopuses and people have almost identical genes for a protein that binds the signaling molecule serotonin to brain cells. This protein is also the target of MDMA, so Dolen wondered how the drug would affect this usually unfriendly animal.
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It was only after U.S. veteran Jonathan Lubecky pulled the trigger on a loaded gun aimed at his head and it misfired that he finally decided to seek help. He had tried to commit suicide five times after struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The only two drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for PTSD, Zoloft and Paxil ... didn’t work for combat-related PTSD. Out of desperation, he volunteered as a subject in an experimental study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD. The study was sponsored by the ... Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and funded entirely by private donations. After his treatment with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, Lubecky managed to heal from his PTSD to the point that he became National Veterans Director for Senator Rand Paul’s 2016 presidential primary campaign. His recovery is not unusual. The Lancet Psychiatry published a scientific paper about the study Lubecky volunteered for; it reported that two-thirds of the 26 veterans, firefighters and police officers treated no longer qualified for a diagnosis of PTSD one month after their second MDMA session, with their reduction of PTSD symptoms lasting over time. Drug prohibition has for decades delayed medical research into the healing properties of Schedule 1 drugs. Now that this research is finally being conducted, we’re learning that enormous suffering and many suicides could have been prevented over these decades.
Note: The above was written by MAPS founder Rick Doblin. Read more about how MDMA, also known as 'ecstasy,' has been found to be 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.
Recreational marijuana use will soon be legal in Canada after the Senate passed a "historic" bill. Canada is only the second country in the world - and the first G7 nation - to implement legislation to permit a nationwide marijuana market. In the neighboring US, nine states and the District of Columbia now allow for recreational marijuana use, and 30 allow for medical use. The Cannabis Act, stems from a campaign pledge of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to keep marijuana away from underage users and reduce related crime. Uruguay was the first country to legalize marijuana's production, sale and consumption in December 2013. The justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, ... applauded the vote. "This is an historic milestone for progressive policy in Canada," she tweeted. "This legislation will help protect our youth from the risks of cannabis while keeping profits out of the hands of criminals and organized crime." Once the bill is formally approved, adults will be able to carry and share up to 30 grams of legal marijuana in public. They also will be allowed to cultivate up to four plants in their households. However, stringent rules will still govern the purchase and use of marijuana. Consumers are expected to purchase marijuana from [regulated] retailers. Marijuana will also not be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco. The Canadian government has also implemented changes to their impaired driving laws, to address repercussions for driving under the influence of cannabis.
Note: In the US, more people are arrested for marijuana use than for all violent crimes combined.
To microdose is to take small amounts of LSD, which generate “subperceptual” effects that can improve mood, productivity and creativity. Michael Pollan’s new book, “How to Change Your Mind,” is not about that. It’s about taking enough LSD or psilocybin (mushrooms) to feel the colors and smell the sounds. If Pollan’s wide-ranging account has a central thesis, it’s that we’re still doing the hard work of rescuing the science of psychedelics from the “countercultural baggage” of the 1960s. In the mid-60s “the exuberance surrounding these new drugs gave way to moral panic,” and ... “the whole project of psychedelic science had collapsed.” Before collapsing, though, that project discovered in psychedelics the same potential that scientists are exploring as they reclaim it today: possible help in treating addiction, anxiety and depression, and “existential distress” — common in people “confronting a terminal diagnosis,” which of course, broadly speaking, is all of us. Pollan doesn’t give a lot of prime real estate to psychedelics’ naysayers. But given that those on LSD can appear to be losing their minds, and that the drug leaves one feeling emotionally undefended (a potential benefit as well as a profound risk), he does strongly recommend having an experienced guide in a proper setting when you trip. With those safeguards in place, he believes usage could be on the verge of more widespread acceptance.
Note: A recent clinical trial found psilocybin to be an extremely effective treatment for anxiety and depression. Articles like this suggest that the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs are gaining mainstream credibility.
Recent trials of psilocybin, a close pharmacological cousin to LSD, have demonstrated that a single guided psychedelic session can alleviate depression when drugs like Prozac have failed; can help alcoholics and smokers to break the grip of a lifelong habit; and can help cancer patients deal with their “existential distress” at the prospect of dying. At the same time, studies imaging the brains of people on psychedelics have opened a new window onto the study of consciousness, as well as the nature of the self and spiritual experience. Perhaps the most significant new evidence for the therapeutic value of psychedelics arrived in a pair of phase 2 trials (conducted at Johns Hopkins and NYU and published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2016) in which a single high dose of psilocybin was administered to cancer patients struggling with depression, anxiety and the fear of death or recurrence. Eighty percent of the Hopkins cancer patients who received psilocybin showed clinically significant reductions in standard measures of anxiety and depression, an effect that endured for at least six months after their session. Results at NYU were similar. Curiously, the degree to which symptoms decreased in both trials correlated with the intensity of the “mystical experience” that volunteers reported, a common occurrence during a high-dose psychedelic session. Few if any psychiatric interventions for anxiety and depression have ever demonstrated such dramatic and sustained results.
Note: This entire article by best-selling author Michael Pollan is filled with the results of excellent studies in this exciting new field. If the above link fails, here is an alternative link. Articles like this suggest that the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs are gaining mainstream scientific credibility.
MDMA - the active ingredient in the banned street drug ecstasy - is safe and enhances the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder when administered during psychotherapy, according to a new clinical trial. The US Food and Drug Administration-approved ... study included just 26 patients, all of them veterans, firefighters and police officers who developed PTSD as a result of trauma in the line of duty. PTSD ... affects about 8 million American in any given year. Continuing symptoms, including flashbacks and frightening thoughts, may lead to substance abuse, unemployment, family disruption and even suicide. Up to 72% of veterans who receive psychotherapy retain their PTSD diagnosis and frequently drop out of their treatment programs. "We only included people who had received prior treatment but still had clinically significant PTSD," [Dr. Michael C. Mithoefer, lead author of the study] said. Participants received ... about 13 hours of non-drug psychotherapy plus two eight-hour sessions of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Participants were randomly assigned to receive MDMA (orally) in one dose of either 30, 75 or 125 milligrams for each of the two MDMA-assisted psychotherapy sessions. One month after the second MDMA session, 68% of patients in the two higher-dose groups no longer qualified for a diagnosis of PTSD. One year later, 67% of all participants no longer qualified for a diagnosis of PTSD. Those participants who still met the criteria for PTSD experienced a reduction in symptoms, the researchers noted.
Note: Watch an engaging interview with one of the participants of the study at the link above. Read more about how MDMA has been found to be 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.
As more states legalize marijuana, there's growing interest in a cannabis extract — cannabidiol, also known as CBD. It's marketed as a compound that can help relieve anxiety - and, perhaps, help ease aches and pains, too. CBD doesn't have the same mind-altering effects as marijuana, since it does not contain THC, the psychoactive component of the plant. "There's good evidence to suggest that CBD could be an effective treatment of anxiety and addiction" and other disorders, says Dr. Esther Blessing, a psychiatrist and researcher at New York University. "But we need clinical trials." Small, short-term human studies ... suggest CBD exhibits anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties. These preliminary findings piqued Blessing's interest. For instance, she points to a 2011 study of a few dozen people, some of whom had social anxiety disorder, who were asked to speak in front of a large audience. Researchers compared anxiety levels in people after they took CBD, compared to those who got the placebo or nothing at all. "People who took CBD reported significantly less anxiety" compared to those who got the placebo, Blessing says. Though CBD supplements are widely available for sale, a legal murkiness surrounds marijuana extracts. Even if you live in a state where marijuana use is legal, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration still classifies the CBD extract as a Schedule 1 substance — the DEA's most restricted category.
Note: Read more about the use of CBD to treat epilepsy and other serious conditions. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
In recent years, rigorous research has been conducted on entheogens, such as ayahuasca, LSD, mescaline and psilocybin, and on the empathogen Ecstasy. The goal is to evaluate their effects on addiction, cluster headaches, depression, trauma, cancer, epilepsy, death and dying, as well as to explore their value in the study of consciousness. Psilocybin - or magic mushrooms - have been used in traditional healing rituals for thousands of years. However, for more than 40 years it has been illegal in the U.S. But recent findings are tearing down the barriers surrounding psychedelic research, as it has been clinically shown that they have the ability to ease depression and soothe anxiety in patients dealing with serious illness and impending death. Two separate studies discovered that a single, moderate-to-large dose of psilocybin was able to help alleviate profound distress among cancer patients. Researchers know “how,” but they do not know “why,” psilocybin has worked in these settings. One theory is that psilocybin interrupts the circuitry of self-absorbed thinking that is so pronounced in depressed people, making way for a mystical experience. Neuro-imaging studies ... suggest that the positive effects of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy are explained by changes in something in the brain called “the default mode network.” It turns out that this network is hyperactive in depression. Interestingly, in both meditation and also with psilocybin this network becomes quiescent.
Note: See an 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 months of deliberation and investigation, the WHO has concluded that cannabidiol (CBD) is a useful treatment for epilepsy and palliative care, and does not carry any addiction risks. The organization is set to run a fuller review of cannabis next year. The report ... also recommended imposing the strong restrictions available on fentanyl, a synthetic opioid which has killed thousands of people in America’s drug addiction epidemic. “There is increased interest from Member States in the use of cannabis for medical indications including for palliative care,” the report said. “Responding to that interest and increase in use, WHO has in recent years gathered more robust scientific evidence on therapeutic use and side effects of cannabis and cannabis components.” In conclusion, the authors wrote: “Recent evidence from animal and human studies shows that its use could have some therapeutic value for seizures due to epilepsy and related conditions.” They added that ‘current information does not justify scheduling of cannabidiol’, and declared that taking medical marijuana will not lead to addiction to THC, the psychoactive property of cannabis that induces a ‘high’.
Note: 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.
When the drugs came, they hit all at once. It was the 80s, and by the time one in 10 people had slipped into the depths of heroin use - bankers, university students, carpenters, socialites, miners - Portugal was in a state of panic. In 2001 ... Portugal became the first country to decriminalise the possession and consumption of all illicit substances. Rather than being arrested, those caught with a personal supply might be given a warning, a small fine, or told to appear before a local commission – a doctor, a lawyer and a social worker – about treatment, harm reduction, and the support services that were available to them. The opioid crisis soon stabilised, and the ensuing years saw dramatic drops in problematic drug use, HIV and hepatitis infection rates, overdose deaths, drug-related crime and incarceration rates. HIV infection plummeted from an all-time high in 2000 of 104.2 new cases per million to 4.2 cases per million in 2015. Portugal’s remarkable recovery ... could not have happened without an enormous cultural shift, and a change in how the country viewed drugs. Portugal’s policy rests on three pillars: one, that there’s no such thing as a soft or hard drug, only healthy and unhealthy relationships with drugs; two, that an individual’s unhealthy relationship with drugs often conceals frayed relationships with loved ones, with the world around them, and with themselves; and three, that the eradication of all drugs is an impossible goal. In spite of Portugal’s tangible results, other countries have been reluctant to follow.
Against the backdrop of the nation's largest Veterans Day parade, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this month he'd sign legislation making New York the latest in a fast-rising tide of states to OK therapeutic pot as a PTSD treatment, though it's illegal under federal law. Twenty-eight states plus the District of Columbia now include PTSD in their medical marijuana programs, a tally that has more than doubled in the last two years. The increase has come amid increasingly visible advocacy from veterans' groups. Retired Marine staff sergeant Mark DiPasquale says the drug freed him from the 17 opioids, anti-anxiety pills and other medications that were prescribed to him for migraines, post-traumatic stress and other injuries from service that included a hard helicopter landing in Iraq in 2005. In a sign of how much the issue has taken hold among veterans, the 2.2-million-member American Legion began pressing the federal government this summer to let Department of Veterans Affairs doctors recommend medical marijuana where it's legal. The Legion started advocating last year for easing federal constraints on medical pot research, a departure into drug policy for the nearly century-old organization. "People ask, `Aren't you the law-and-order group?' Why, yes, we are," Executive Director Verna Jones said at a Legion-arranged news conference early this month at the U.S. Capitol. But "when veterans come to us and say a particular treatment is working for them, we owe it to them to listen and to do scientific research required."
Note: This Associated Press article no longer appears on CNBC's website. Here's an alternate link for the complete article. The illegal drug MDMA was recently fast tracked for FDA approval after preliminary studies found it to be effective for treating PTSD in a therapeutic context. While police in the US arrest more people for marijuana use than for all violent crimes combined, articles like these suggest that the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs are gaining mainstream credibility.
Dozens of adults and children, all clad in white, stood in a line. A holy man handed each a cup of ayahuasca, a muddy-looking hallucinogenic brew. Among those imbibing from the holy man’s decanter were prison inmates, convicted of crimes such as murder, kidnapping and rape. “I’m finally realizing I was on the wrong path in this life,” said Celmiro de Almeida, 36, who is serving a sentence for homicide. “Each experience helps me communicate with my victim to beg for forgiveness,” said Mr. de Almeida. The provision of a hallucinogen to inmates ... reflects a continuing quest for ways to ease pressure on Brazil’s prison system. The country’s inmate population has doubled since the start of the century ... straining underfunded prisons rife with human rights violations. Around , Acuda, a pioneering prisoners’ rights group in Porto Velho, began offering inmates therapy sessions in yoga, meditation and Reiki. Two years ago, the volunteer therapists at Acuda had a new idea: Why not give the inmates ayahuasca as well? Acuda had trouble finding a place where the inmates could drink ayahuasca, but they were finally accepted by an offshoot here of Santo Daime, a Brazilian religion founded in the 1930s. “Many people in Brazil believe that inmates must suffer,” said Euza Beloti, 40, a psychologist with Acuda. “This thinking bolsters a system where prisoners return to society more violent than when they entered prison.” At Acuda, she said, “we simply see inmates as human beings with the capacity to change.”
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