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Can I Take Psychedelic Drugs for Therapy?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on September 10, 2015 1:59 PM

Psychedelic drugs like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin contained in "magic mushrooms," and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) remain listed as Schedule I narcotics by the federal government. As a result, these drugs are illegal under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

But recent studies have shown that certain psychedelics, when paired with psychotherapy, can have positive impacts for patients suffering from anxiety, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). Does that mean your therapist can prescribe you acid, Molly, or some other psychedelic drug?

Drug History

Some psychedelics, like LSD, were developed and used for therapeutic purposes, while others like psilocybin, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and mescaline (from peyote cacti), have been consumed in their naturally occurring states either recreationally or as part of ceremonies. However, all of these were criminalized under the CSA in 1970. (MDMA was added to Schedule I in 1985 after a vigorous debate over its medical merits.)

Scientists and psychotherapists have long called for more research and clinical trials regarding the therapeutic use of psychedelics. But because the CSA designates that a Schedule I drug "has a high potential for abuse ... has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States ... [and] There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision," medical testing is prohibited under federal law.

Drug Future?

Current researchers are turning to studies performed prior to criminalization in the 1950s and 1960s as well as current studies performed in countries with less restrictive drug laws to justify future research. According to a review of an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal:

"One small randomized controlled trial indicates that LSD-assisted psychotherapy might help reduce anxiety from terminal illness. Another small study, in which the active molecule in 'magic mushrooms' was used as part of therapy for alcohol addiction, shows a significant reduction in the number of days alcohol was used as well as in the amount. A small US study of the drug MDMA shows a reduction in PTSD symptoms in people with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD."

While there may be more momentum now than ever for medicinal uses of psychedelic drugs, their cultivation, distribution, and possession remain illegal. So you may have to wait a few years before getting your peyote prescription.

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