“Turn on, tune in, drop out.”
- Timothy Leary, 1966
In the Rebellious 60s, this message from psychedelic drug guru, Timothy Leary was too much for the political Establishment of that era.
The era of psychedelic drug Prohibition
Psychedelic drugs were criminalized, as were nearly all recreational drugs except for nicotine and alcohol – the two biggest killers among recreational drugs.
Along with drug Prohibition came mountains of anti-drug propaganda. These recreational drugs weren’t simply criminalized, they were demonized, with anti-drug propaganda that often had little foundation in science or reality.
“Getting high” not only drew the most pejorative connotations in media (and entertainment), it drew extreme moral condemnation from most quarters.
In short, the message preached strongly in Western societies (and much of the world) was “it’s bad to feel good.”
Flash forward to 2020, an era much different from the happy, prosperous and (relatively) healthy 1960s.
The Mental Health Crisis
Today, the world is gripped by a horrific Mental Health Crisis, a mental health epidemic of stress-related conditions (like depression, anxiety, addiction and PTSD) that afflicts over 1 billion people around the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly and dramatically aggravating this Mental Health Crisis. In short, the world has never seen such enormous numbers of people clinically diagnosed as “feeling bad” in one way or another.
This is not just a humanitarian crisis. It is also an economic crisis.
The Mental Health Crisis is already costing the global economy $1+ trillion per year in lost productivity, according to sources like the World Economic Forum and the Lancet Commission.
Treatment costs eat up similar sums annually – while producing very little results. Existing therapies for (in particular) depression, addiction and PTSD produce appalling failure rates.
The Psychedelic Drug Revolution
Enter psychedelic drugs.
After roughly 40 years of narrow-minded anti-drug bigotry, over the last decade the medical Establishment (and society as a while) has started to take a fresh look at psychedelic drugs – and psychedelic medicine.
Psychedelics-based research to treat mental health disorders was just getting off the ground in the 1960s when Drug Prohibition slammed the door shut, for close to 50 years.
More recently, with an unprecedented epidemic of people who are feeling bad, it is no longer intellectually rejected and morally condemned to consider giving people medicines designed to help them feel good. Psychedelic drug medicines.
Lumped together because of their psychotropic effects, psychedelic drugs actually produce their “high” in distinctly different ways – offering different therapeutic options for people who are feeling bad.
A substance like MDMA is perhaps closest to a proverbial Happy Pill. Medical literature (and empirical evidence) indicates that in addition to feelings of well-being it also creates a sense of security for the user.
Clinical research on MDMA-assisted therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has produced stunning results. Over 90% of patients experience some beneficial effect. This is compared to treatment of PTSD by the U.S. Department of Defense – where 66% of patients express dissatisfaction with their therapy options.
Giving heavily-traumatized people who feel really bad much of the time a substance that provides peace of mind and security is showing strong beneficial effects. What a surprise!
Conversely, other psychedelic drugs (such as psilocybin) are touted by researchers for their potential to “re-wire” our brains.
People suffering from stress-related disorders often exhibit destructive patterns of thoughts or behavior – either the cause of their mental health disorder (such as addiction) or one of the consequences.
Drugs that can re-wire our brain are being administered (in conjunction with psychotherapy) to help deprogram these destructive patterns. Recipients of such therapies are reporting spectacular treatment outcomes for (in particular) depression and addiction. What a surprise!
Psychedelic drug economics
The medical Establishment and (very gradually) even the political Establishment is warming up to the idea of psychedelic drug medicine.
The mainstream media – the same entities that relentlessly demonized psychedelics for 50 years – can’t find enough nice things to say about psychedelic drugs today.
Did this Establishment suddenly succumb to an acute case of enlightenment? Not quite.
As already noted, the Mental Health Crisis is expensive – very, very expensive. Governments drowning in debt with COVID-crippled economies can’t afford this additional Crisis.
Psychedelic drugs offer more than just the potential to dramatically reduce the $1+ trillion per year in mental health-related productivity losses. Psychedelic drug-based therapies also offer the potential to save vast sums of treatment dollars.
An economic study by MAPS on MDMA-based therapy for PTSD calculated treatment savings of $103,000 per patient.
The People desperately need the medicinal benefits from psychedelic drug medicine. Our governments desperately need the economic benefits from introducing psychedelic drug medicine into our (ineffective/inefficient) healthcare system.
A marriage made in Heaven? Not quite, but the bottom line is that psychedelic drug medicines are on the way.
The U.S. military is a major supporter of psychedelic medicine
A further irony as this Psychedelic Drug Revolution evolves?
The U.S. Department of Defense, whose military assets were used to help fight the War on Drugs is now one of the biggest supporters of psychedelic drug R&D.
The Mental Health Crisis is taking a heavy toll not just on U.S. military personnel but on the combat-readiness of the United States.
The PTSD epidemic is devastating the ranks of the U.S. military. Without psychedelic drug-based therapies to turn this tide, the U.S. military may lose the capacity to initiate new armed conflicts.
We may question the true motives behind this new attitude, but for the 1+ billion people afflicted by the Mental Health Crisis, we can only applaud the result.
Revolutions are characterized as much by changes in thinking as changes in actions.
According to the media, the medical Establishment, and even the U.S. military, it’s no longer “bad” to feel “good”. Given the War on Drugs mentality that dominated for us for decades, this is truly a thought Revolution.
A Psychedelic Drug Revolution.