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Should We Review The Treatment Potential Of Some Illegal Drugs?

Posted in General Health 12 Mar, 2015

The comedian Bill Hicks said 'wouldn't you like to see a positive LSD story on the news? To base your decision on information, rather than scare tactics and superstition. Wouldn't that be interesting, just for once?'

Many people associate LSD with hippies suffering decades of paranoia and flashbacks due to psychedelic abuse. The UN classified LSD as schedule 1, which translates to a dangerous substance with no health benefits.

However, the tide has swiftly been turning in favour of an evidence-based approach when it comes to drug policy. Drugs have been decriminalised in Portugal, which was in turn followed by a dramatic fall in addiction rates.

There has also been progress in the use of some drugs for treatment purposes, with certain states in the US legalising cannabis for medical use. They argued that cannabis provided effective pain relief without the potential side effects and addiction risks caused by some of the existing medications.

For many years, leading health experts in the UK have also called for a new approach on how our society views the use of illegal drugs as possible treatment alternatives. So far, these calls have been limited to professionals within the health community, with only the Liberal Democrats stating a desire to reform the UK's drug policy.

This issue was put into the spotlight when Professor David Nutt, the government's then drug adviser, stated that the way the UK categorises illegal drugs needs to drastically change. He stated that the potential of some drugs as a tool for treatment was being undermined by the current dogmatic approach taken by the government.

The furore created led to David Nutt's departure from the government in a high-publicised split. However, since these events occurred, the treatment potential of certain illegal drugs has been given renewed focus.

Many health experts now agree that the treatment potential of a number of illegal substances should be properly researched, and that denying sufferers viable and effective treatment options based on preconceived ideas created by the war on drugs is not just illogical but also immoral.

One area that Professor Nutt has focused on is the use of psychedelic drugs in the treatment of depression. He states that the classification of psychedelic drugs as harmful and illegal is 'one of the most effective examples of disinformation in the history of mankind'.

According to recent studies by the neuroscience department of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, there is no link between the use of psychedelics and mental illness. However, more importantly, they found that the use of psychedelics actually reduced the risk of someone developing mental conditions.

No health expert is advocating the free use of powerful mind-altering psychedelic substances, but the evidence does at least suggest that the use of psychedelics as a treatment option for mental disorders should at least be researched properly.

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