JUL 29, 2016 8:34 AM PDT

Psychedelics: The New Treatment for Addiction Therapy?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Psychedelic drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms are often associated with recreational use or abuse. But recent studies suggest perhaps the drugs can be used to counter the debilitating effects of addiction, anxiety, and depression. Perhaps it's time more scientists revisit the medical value in these once ill-reputed drugs.

LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide, or acid) is a compound that induces altered perceptions and awareness. Likewise, psilocybin is a compound in some mushrooms that can induce euphoria and heightened sensory perceptions. While the psychedelic effects of these drugs are well-known, studies suggest the same effects may lead to curbed symptoms for patients with mental disorders. For example, some studies have shown that psilocybin can reduce addiction to smoking and even alcohol. Other studies show the psychedelic drugs reduce anxiety, particularly in cancer patients.

Some researchers believe the drugs activate new or otherwise hidden connections in the brain, which facilitate the patients to overcome their psychological and emotional challenges. Indeed, the brain on LSD is many times more activated than a brain without LSD. But it's certain that more work needs to be done to fully understand and reap the medical value of these drugs.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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