They’re often depicted as dangerous, but scientists suggest LSD and other psychedelic drugs could be promising options to treat depression and addiction issues. Now, in new research, they say the illicit drugs could even help battle domestic abuse.
In two separate studies, doctors suggest that LSD helped with increasing optimism, openness and even compassion and kindness.
In one study, conducted by the University of British Columbia and the University of Alabama, researchers followed 302 men in the criminal justice system. Fifty-six per cent of the group admitted to taking hallucinogens – only 27 per cent were arrested for being violent with their partners.
Forty-two per cent of the group who didn’t try the psychedelic drugs were arrested for domestic abuse within seven years, though.
“Although we’re attempting to better understand how or why these substances may be beneficial, one explanation is that they can transform people’s lives by providing profoundly meaningful spiritual experiences that highlight what matters most,” Dr. Peter Hendrinks, co-author of the study, said.
“Often, people are struck by the realization that behaving with compassion and kindness towards others is high on the list of what matters,” he explained.
The study follows British research out of Imperial College London. In that case, 20 healthy volunteers took a 75-microgram dose of LSD intravenously or a placebo. They then took a series of tests while on either the drug or the placebo.
The researchers reported “robust psychological effects.” When the group was on LSD, they had a “heightened mood,” “increased optimism and trait openness.”
Scientists are slowly building on their understanding of illegal drugs and their potential to address mental health issues.
Dr. David Nutt, another Imperial College professor who worked on the U.K. study, called the tight restrictions and difficulty in gathering funding to study illicit drugs “the worst censorship in the history of science.”
“Understanding more about the physiological effects of LSD will help us shed light on potential medical interventions as well as help us learn more about consciousness,” the researchers wrote on their website.
“By researching how psychedelics work, we will be a step closer to understanding how specific areas of the brain are affected to induce certain psychological effects,” they explain.
The medical community is getting creative in thinking of ways to treat mental health issues. Animal therapy – from spending time with horses and visits from dogs – is becoming increasingly common in treating PTSD.
Canadian researchers, along with their peers around the world, are evaluating the therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana for PTSD, anxiety and depression.