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Netflix’s ‘How to Change Your Mind’ Says Drugs Are the Answer - Are They Right?
Mental Health

Netflix’s ‘How to Change Your Mind’ Says Drugs Are the Answer - Are They Right?

Well, not all drugs are the answer, obviously. But there are some that can actually change our lives for the better, according to some scientific studies.

Journalist Michael Pollan is the author of How to Change Your Mind. This is a fascinating book on the history of psychedelic drugs. The book follows the rise, fall and recent return of psychedelic research while examining the changing of their public and professional perception.

Recently, Netflix has also released a documentary series based on Pollan's book that includes testimonials from people who have actually undergone the monitored experiment and talk about the various psychedelic benefits, that have changed their lives for the better.

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If you were to take a walk down the streets, wouldn’t you like to see more happy faces around you? People being calm, minding their own business, no frowns, no one having a panic attack right next to you in the bus… Wouldn’t that be nice? Most of you would say “Of course, but that would happen in an ideal world and we don’t live in one."

Some psychiatrists, neuro psychiatrists and psychologists, have studied the effects of psychedelics and their benefits when administered in a controlled environment, strictly for medical purposes. Although most psychedelics remain illegal under federal law, the FDA is weighing potential therapeutic uses for substances like psilocybin, LSD and MDMA (which is also known as Ecstasy).

What Does Psychedelic Mean?

man at concert in psychedelic trip

To give you a broad kind of definition, the term psychedelic comes from the Greek “psyche” and “delos” so it’s translated to “mind-manifesting”. But not all psychedelics have the same action mechanism. 

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What if we could change our mindset and see these substances for the benefits that they can have on certain mental disorders? What if mental problems such as PTSD, alcoholism and depression could be cured by substances such as mescaline, psilocybin, MDMA or even LSD?

Let's find out more about these four substances and how they can be used in our advantage.

When Was LSD Discovered and With What Purpose?

human brain

Probably many of you have heard scary things about LSD use. But the truth is that this is one of the least dangerous or addictive psychoactive drugs. However, this doesn’t mean there is no risk in using it for personal entertainment. In fact, all the drugs in this list may have potential benefits but ONLY under monitored sessions where professionals can guide you and administer you the right dose.

More than 60 years ago, Albert Hofmann has first synthesized LSD from a fungus called ergot.  LSD was first created with the intention to cure women with postnatal depression

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Between 1950-1965, thousands of scientific articles about psychedelics were released, explaining their benefits from a medical point of view. However, like any other drug, LSD got into the hands of the wrong people and was distributed at parties, music festivals, and the results were catastrophic. Needless to say that the drug was soon banned from the market as it was considered an illicit drug.

Although professors from prestigious Universities tried to explain that microdoses of LSD can seriously alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and can help with problem solving issues, the drug has still remained illicit.

However, in the early 2000s, research slowly began to pick back up.

What Is Psilocybin and What Is It Used For? 

magic mushroom

How astounding is that a substance called Psilocybin, found in a little mushroom can ameliorate the suffering of those who have cancer. Psilocybin can have a positive impact on their emotional and psychological distress which takes away from their quality of life. 

A research was conducted on participants’ brains to actually see what happens at a neuro level after ingesting small doses of Psilocybin. Researchers have discovered that psychedelics work on the Default Mode Network - the part houses the self and the assumptions about the self, the stories we tell ourselves 

“There are two kinds of science. The one that wants to look at only what can easily be measured and ignore everything else. And then there’s the true science that proves the very frontiers of human knowledge, and that is where psychedelic research is right now.”

Dr. William Richards

Another small study on the therapeutic effects of using psychedelics to treat alcoholism found that just two doses of psilocybin magic mushrooms combined with psychotherapy led to an 83% decline in heavy drinking among the participants. After eight months, nearly half of those who received psilocybin had stopped drinking entirely.

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The study published in JAMA Psychiatry has also talked about the benefits of Psilocybin on a range of mental health problems, from depression, anxiety, PTSD and OCD.

MDMA and Its Potential Health Benefits

woman smiling, holding, and looking into a mirror

MDMA (aka Ecstasy) is a synthetic drug that was first developed in 1912 and it was intended to control bleeding in hospital patients. Later, researchers have found that the drug also helped in enhancing communication in patient sessions and allowed them to achieve insights about their problems.

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MDMA causes a flood of serotonin and oxytocin and that creates a feeling of openness, of loving connection to others. These feelings help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Research also shows that in controlled doses paired with therapy, MDMA has positive effects on PTSD and on victims that were sexually abused.

Mescaline - The Indigenous Sacred Medicine

abstract art of human experiencing psychedelic trip

Mescaline is a chemical substance that develops in two types of cactuses. It is said that it treats anxiety, depression and certain addictions such as alcoholism.

Mescaline was first used in the traditional ceremonies of Indigenous American cultures. The Natives have known of the plant’s hallucinatory and medicinal properties for thousands of years, and peyote still holds a sacred place in their culture. In fact, over 40 tribes in North America and Western Canada still use it in their sacred ceremonies.

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Mescaline and peyote are now banned under United States drug laws, but such ceremonial use is exempted.

Psychedelics Are Here to Stay

beatles yellow submarine

Mental health care is in crisis. We have rising rates of depression, suicide, anxiety, eating disorders, addictions, PTSD and OCD.

The studies comprised in Michael Pollan's book How to Change Your Mind, suggest that psychedelics may have huge benefits on mental health if used properly and only under medical supervision.

As odd as it seems some of them can be effective for multiple forms of addiction, which is great news for those battling substance abuse.

However, keep in mind that this article is designed to inform. We do not provide medical advice. You should always consult a professional or a doctor before starting any type of treatment.

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