Psychedelics are among the most misunderstood drugs. From myths about substances like MDMA being the ultimate party drugs to misconceptions about their effects on the brain and unwarranted anti-drug campaigns, psychedelic drugs are thoroughly misjudged to the extent of being banned in virtually all regions of the world.
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But did you know scientists say psychedelic drugs are not addictive in any way? Research into psychedelic drugs shows that the substances don’t affect the brain the way drugs as cocaine and heroin do. Indeed, psilocybin, a psychedelic in magic mushroom, has been shown to modify the prefrontal cortex in a manner that could help deal with depression, anxiety, improve creativity, and so on.
In many scientific laboratories worldwide., scientists are increasingly optimistic the disinformation surrounding psychedelics will stop, and certain psychedelics will be approved for therapeutic use.
What Are Psychedelic Drugs?
Psychedelics are a type of hallucinogens known to induce an altered state of consciousness, aka psychedelic trips or psychedelic trance. The most culturally significant psychedelic substances and drugs include certain types of mushrooms, Ecstasy (MDMA), and LSD.
The popularity of psychedelics rose in the 1960s. It was a time of great countercultural values, musical, social, and artistic change. Psychedelics in the 1960s were used by hippies to reach non-ordinary states of consciousness.
But long before the world got into the use of psychedelic drugs and music to attain altered forms of consciousness, different cultures around the globe had already embraced psychedelics in traditional medicine and religion.
For example, Native Americans used psilocybin mushrooms for healing and divination. And in Peru and South America, a psychedelic-rich brew called Ayahuasca was used for physical and spiritual healing.
Mode of Action
How do psychedelics affect the brain? Scientists do not yet know all theirs is to know about psychedelics. But what they know is the substance combines with serotonin 2A receptors bringing about psychedelic trances. Serotonin is an essential brain chemical. It’s used by nerve cells to communicate. Low levels of serotonin are associated with anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other health problems.
Changes in perception and cognition bring about psychedelic experiences. Most people say such incidents are similar to the altered forms of consciousness induced by near-death experiences, medication, and mystical trance. They are characterized by the perception of intense colors unlike ever seen, warped surfaces, shape suggestibility, and perception of temporal dimensions.
Psychedelic drug enthusiasts say such experiences reduce anxiety, boost creativity, physical energy, emotional balance, and improve problem-solving ability.
However, research into psychedelics substances and their potential medical use is limited due to the substances being illegal in most regions of the world. For this reason, the substances remain shrouded in mystery and half-truths that scientists say do more damage than good.
Examples of Myths and Misconceptions Surrounding Psychedelics
The common myths and misconceptions surrounding the drugs include:
1. Psychedelics Are the Topmost Recreational Drugs.
Contrary to what is said about Ecstasy, shrooms, and LSD, cancer patients who were treated to the drugs say the experience is anything but recreational. Indeed, they reported feeling fear, anxiety, and panic at first before slipping into a longer-lasting relaxed, and optimistic state.
2. All Psychedelics Are Natural.
While magic mushrooms and Ayahuasca contain natural psychedelics, drugs like LSD are synthetically manufactured.
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3. Psychedelics Put Holes in Your Brain.
Most drug usage causes brain structure to shrink or grow. However, only blunt force trauma can put physical holes in a person’s brain.
4. Psychedelics Impact Your Brain Just Like Illegal Drugs.
While substances like cocaine and THT make reward chemicals to flood the brain motivation centers leading to addiction in the long run, research into psilocybin mushrooms shows the substance is not addictive. Indeed, it’s been revealed to alter the prefrontal cortex in a way that could be more beneficial than harmful.
Examples of Psychedelics in Nature
What plants have psychedelic properties? Psychedelics occur naturally in magic mushrooms, Peyote and Peruvian torch cacti, Salvia, and jimsonweed. Peyote and Peruvian torch are used to prepare Ayahuasca.
Cannabis induces psychoactive experiences, too, but it’s still yet to be determined as a psychedelic.
Uses of Psychedelic Substances
The common uses of psychedelic drugs are mentioned below:
As already mentioned, before the 1960s psychedelic wave, different cultures across the world used psychedelic substances to heal, induce visions, and so on. The importance of psychedelic substances is manifested in traditional Japanese art and ancient Chinese excavations.
Even now, when you tour countries like Thailand and Indonesia, you can drink mushroom shakes in bars and café or enjoy them in pizzas even though these substances are still illegal.
2. Psychedelic Therapy
Although still classified as a schedule 1 controlled substance, various research has demonstrated the potential benefit of psychedelic drugs for depression, PTSD, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders. It’s even suggested that the use of magic mushrooms can result in enduring positive changes in one’s personality.
Native American specialists have reported success in the use of peyote and Peruvian torch to treat alcoholism. This has also been backed by a clinical study involving individuals with severe alcohol problems. The participants were treated to psychedelics for days and reported a significant reduction in their drinking activities.
Specifically, they said the use of psychedelics gave them insight into their addiction behavior, making them develop better priorities reframe their alcohol abstinence journey as a spiritual endeavor.
In recent months, the FDA has approved psilocybin-assisted therapy for treating depression and PTSD that do not respond to other medications.
The use of psychedelic drugs to escape from the monotony of everyday life is common. Drugs like Ecstasy, MDMA, and substances like magic mushrooms are used to induce wild and crazy experiences that most people say feel euphoric and colorful.
However, when it comes to psychedelics for recreational use, keep in mind that their effects on people vary.
Microdosing is another common use of psychedelics. Psychedelic microdosing enthusiasts take tiny portions of the substances to boost creativity and focus, increase physical energy, treat anxiety and improve problem-solving ability without resulting in disorientation or hallucination.
Microdosing is a common practice in Silicon Valley. Young professionals say it helps them stay focused and reach higher levels of creativity.,
What States Are Psychedelic Drugs Legal in?
Good reports about psilocybin have seen psychedelic drugs legalized in some U.S states. Denver and Colorado were the first states to decriminalize psychedelics back in 2019, and since then, cities such as California, Oakland, Oregon, Somerville, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Santa Cruz have followed suit.
However, the use, possession, and sale of psychedelic mushrooms and plants are still illegal according to federal law.
Potential Side Effects
Contrary to popular perception, psychedelic drugs do not result in addiction; they are physiologically safe. There haven’t been deaths due to LSD, mescaline, or psilocybin overdose.
However, unsupervised psychedelic trips can be dangerous. It’s always wise to have psychedelics administered by professionals in appropriate settings. Negative reactions that may result from psychedelic use include fear, full panic, and prolonged dread. It’s also not recommended to use psychedelic when driving or walking.
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Contrary to common myths, research into psychedelic drugs reveals various potential health benefits and very few side effects, if any. Psychedelic drugs use does not lead to addiction or physical holes in your brain.
In fact, a lot of research says they help transcend one’s sense of self, leading to the dissolution of ego and a calm, peaceful mind which is essential for managing depression, anxiety, PTSD, alcohol withdrawal symptom, among others; just use caution, unsupervised psychedelic experiences can be bad.