Medicine/Healing

The war on drugs halted research into the potential benefits of psychedelics

“During his 12-hour experience, designed to help stop his destructive drinking habit, King sat on the edge of the bed and looked at the photo of his son that he’d brought. Suddenly, the child became alive in the picture, which initially frightened him. Then King noticed that a lick of his son’s hair was out of place, so he stroked the photo, putting the errant strands back in place. His fear vanished. Later, Unger held out a small vase with a single red rose. King looked at the flower, which seemed to be opening and closing, as though it were breathing. At one point, Unger asked him whether he’d like to go out to a bar and have a few drinks. King didn’t say anything but was shocked when the rose suddenly turned black and dropped dead before his eyes. He never picked up another drink…”

Meanwhile, brain scientists and psychotherapists were conducting more socially beneficial experiments in laboratories and medical offices around the world. Through the 1950s and 1960s, more than 1,000 research papers were written about LSD, psilocybin, and other psychedelic drugs. Some 40,000 subjects were given these mind-expanding agents, and great progress was made in the understanding of how they might help people suffering from depression, alcoholism, and the psychospiritual distress that often comes with the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness. Researchers in Canada and the U.S. showed that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy could be more effective in treating alcoholism than existing treatments, including the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. In the late 1950s and 1960s, even AA co-founder Bill Wilson advocated the cautious use of LSD, experimenting on himself and a small circle of friends…These consciousness-raising substances are finally coming out of the drug culture and into the mainstream laboratories of universities and medical centers. Researchers are building on the findings from the first wave of research. Today, scientists and therapists are more cautious in their screening of patients and the use of double-blind, placebo-controlled research to try to separate the effects of the psychedelic experience from other therapies patients get. More emphasis is placed on follow-up work to integrate the insights from psychedelic drugs into one’s everyday life.

Original Article (Slate, New America, ASU):
The War on Drugs Halted Research Into the Potential Benefits of Psychedelics
Artwork Fair Use: frankieleon

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