Research, both old and new, points to the therapeutic benefits of certain psychedelic drugs in treating PTSD, addiction, and other mental illnesses.

published on June 5, 2018 by Chris Cannon in Trek Magazine

Canada is talking about drugs.

They’ve always been on the radar – a statistic here, a celebrity death there – but lately the headlines have been awash with daily tales of legalization, overdoses, and new discoveries, renewing public interest in natural and synthetic mind-altering substances.

Such talk is always accompanied by the shadow of stigmatization, as drug use is often framed in the context of criminality or culture wars, only regarded as a health issue as an afterthought. But the growing acceptance of medical cannabis, the need for new ways to combat the opioid crisis, and an unprecedented attention to mental health issues has Canada leading a sea change in pharmacological research, as once illicit drugs with a reputation for harm are earning serious attention for their potential to treat some of our most pressing health challenges.

Legal issues be damned, social media has brought about something of a renaissance for entheogenic use via the public airing of users’ experiences. “In the case of ayahuasca, it’s the narratives of people who are sharing YouTube videos of themselves,” says Kenneth Tupper, a director at the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) and adjunct professor in UBC’s School of Population and Public Health. “They’re talking about what kind of transformative experience they’ve had, what insights they’ve gotten from drinking it.”

These first-person narratives range from reports of intense personal growth to the curing of eating disorders. But while the anecdotal evidence is intriguing, there is a dearth of quantitative, clinical studies of entheogenic substances – and it’s possible this void can never be properly filled.

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