Home LATEST NEWS “Magic mushrooms” as therapy? Veterans lead the way

“Magic mushrooms” as therapy? Veterans lead the way

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This is particularly the case of Utah, which has become at least the fourth state in two years to authorize the study of the medical potential of hallucinogenic substances, the consumption of which remains illegal in the eyes of federal law.

Several municipalities have also chosen to decriminalize magic mushrooms as huge investments flood this potential new market.

According to experts, research on hallucinogens shows promise in treating various problems ranging from post-traumatic shock to tobacco addiction. However, the use of these substances carries serious dangers, especially for patients living with other mental health conditions.

In the case of Matthew Butler, a veteran who spent 27 years in the US infantry, it took him a day in the cell to realize that his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) had gotten out of hand.

Recently retired from green berets, he had already tried antidepressants, therapy and pet therapy. Except that when his family tried to open his eyes by confronting him in the family residence, he exploded and smashed through a wall. Obviously, all the solutions had failed.

I had a nice house, a good job, everything, but I didn’t sleep, I had nightmares, anxiety gnawed at me, I avoided crowds, he confided. My life was a shipwreck.

A transformed life

It was ultimately the hallucinogens that changed his life, he shares.

I managed to go back very far and realize: “Oh, I see what happened. I understand now”, says the 52-year-old man. Today, he no longer has to deal with the police, he enjoys a happy marriage and has reconciled with his parents.

Mr. Butler, who resides in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, is part of a movement of veterans who are trying to convince elected officials in several states to study the use of hallucinogenic drugs as a medical treatment.

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So far, Oregon remains the only state to have legalized the therapeutic use of psilocybin, the active ingredient in certain mushrooms.

However, the debate is on in many other US jurisdictions not only in Democratic states like Hawaii, Connecticut and Maryland, but also in Republican states of Texas, Utah and Oklahoma, where plans for law are under consideration.

Opposition to Cannabis

These advances contrast with the stubborn opposition facing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. An avenue that Utah’s elected officials have long opposed until a referendum on the issue finally succeeds in forcing the government to move forward.

In the case of hallucinogenic drugs, the proposal to study the efficacy of a wide range of substances was easily adopted this year.

Same scenario in Texas, where cannabis is still illegal, whether used in a medical context or not. Surprisingly, former Republican Governor Rick Perry sponsored a bill last year that grants US$1.4 million to study a psilocybin treatment to lessen the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

There’s a stigma attached to psilocybin and most hallucinogens that dates back to the 60s and 70s. It’s very hard to fight, says Democratic Representative Alex Dominguez, who introduced the bill. My approach was to say “Let’s find the group that all parties say they support” and obviously that was the veterans.

He also turned to supportive conservative voices, like ex-Governor Perry, and left them with the burden of convincing people on their side of the political spectrum.

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Maryland has also approved its own research project. Then cities like Washington DC, Denver, Oakland, Santa Cruz, Ann Arbor and Cambridge decriminalized psilocybin.

A crowd of venture capitalists

Beyond the opening of the authorities, a host of venture capitalists injected funds to be the first to enter the market for hallucinogenic therapeutic drugs, says the director of the department of psychiatry at Yale University John Krystal .

This is an astonishing turnaround in a field of study that captivated researchers in the 1950s and 60s before magic mushrooms and LSD became illegal recreational drugs.

New studies now suggest that psilocybin may be useful in the treatment of many disorders ranging from major depression to alcoholism, says assistant professor in the University of Utah Department of Psychiatry, Ben Lewis.

People refer to this period as the renaissance of hallucinogens. Up to 30% of people with depression are thought to be resistant to current treatments. »

A quote from Ben Lewis, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Utah

He adds that some recent advances are fueling enthusiasm on the drugs side.

Furthermore, the risk of addiction and overdose is considered low with hallucinogens, especially under medical supervision. On the other hand, there are risks for heart health as well as psychological health, especially in those who have a family history of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Many hallucinogenic substances such as LSD, mescaline, psilocybin and ayahuasca are herbal products that have been used for a very long time by indigenous communities around the world.

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