Half of Americans think psychedelics should be legal for mental illness
Poll Says Almost Half of Americans Already Support Legalizing Psychedelics for Mental Illness
Psychedelics like MDMA, LSD, and magic mushrooms have been unfairly stigmatized over the past few decades.
But in recent years, their importance in treating intractable mental illness has been in the spotlight. This is incredibly important given how debilitating mental disorders are for the people who struggle with them: conditions like depression, PTSD, anxiety and more make it difficult to lead normal lives. In addition, mental illness is one of the most costly medical illnesses in the United States, as it is around the world.
Additionally, millions of people are not finding relief from traditional mental health medications. Treatment-resistant conditions make it even more difficult for people to recover from them. This is why the legalization of psychedelics is so important – not today, but yesterday.
Fortunately, more and more people are discovering how beneficial these drugs are. They are no longer considered the recreational drugs that our grandparents stumbled upon in the ’60s and ’70s. Psychedelics are medicine, and Americans who know about their benefits agree. There’s clearly still work to be done to increase awareness and accessibility, but we’re getting there.
A recent poll conducted by VeryWellMind in August 2022 asked around 1,800 American adults about their opinions on psychedelics. While only 15% responded positively, 34% had a fairly negative reaction, and the remaining respondents either had never heard of psychedelics or were neutral, about half of the respondents represented half of the population in favor of using psychedelics to treat mental disorders .
“Despite these knowledge and accessibility gaps, nearly half of Americans are open to the idea of using psychedelics for mental illness,” the study authors write.
“One in three Americans say they would be more open to considering psychedelic-assisted treatment upon professional recommendation/administration or FDA approval,” they added.
Respondents were also asked if they would support the legalization of some or all drugs. Twenty-eight percent said they would support legalizing the use of psychedelics for spiritual purposes, while 26 percent said they would support recreational use. Additionally, 45% of participants said they would support the legalization of psychedelics to treat mental health disorders when used under the guidance of a professional, while 61% of those who have worked with a therapist in the past 30 days support legalization of psychedelics for mental health support reasons for this.
“According to our survey, consumers might welcome the opportunity to explore psychedelics as part of their treatment,” said Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief of VeryWellMind, during a press release. “One in five people in therapy said they would try psychedelics because other treatment options have discouraged them, signaling that people are interested in alternative treatment options,” she added.
“When it comes to psychedelics, Americans are cautious but curious. A better scientific and psychological understanding of these drugs, their effects, risks and potential benefits will be the first step towards wider acceptance, further decriminalization and ultimately normalization as a mental health treatment option when appropriate,” the authors concluded.
Current Status of Psychedelics: Still Many Hurdles to Overcome
A handful of states and counties in the United States have either decriminalized or legalized some psychedelics, such as magic mushrooms, ketamine, and LSD. They are also widely available in some cities, making it easy for adults to access these drugs and microdoses when needed, or even seek professional therapeutic help to use under medical supervision.
There’s no doubt about it: Psychedelics are ubiquitous these days, even if it’s not entirely legal. You can even order mushroom chocolate or ketamine online and have it shipped straight to your door. Big companies recognize its benefits – and its lucrative effects – so they pour millions and billions of dollars into the research and development of psychedelics-based drugs.
But the benefits of psychedelics are by no means new: psychedelics have been used by ancient civilizations, and by far more than we know. Indigenous tribes and cultures around the world have used herbal psychedelics, also known as entheogens, for many centuries. Then Albert Hoffman developed LSD, which also has powerful therapeutic benefits.
However, the federal government still doesn’t see the medical benefits of psychedelics the same way they see cannabis, even though most states have already legalized marijuana in one form or another. Some of the world’s top universities are putting serious funds into further research, specifically to study psilocybin, LSD, MDMA and ketamine. Not surprisingly, most of these studies have found that these psychedelics actually show promise for mental health disorders—as well as some physical ones.
Right now, all major psychedelics except ketamine are listed as Schedule 1 substances, as is cannabis. Hopefully, the clinical trials being conducted to prove its benefits and effectiveness will help pave the way for legalization. Decriminalization is equally important as it is usually the first step towards full legalization.
As more and more people change their minds about psychedelics thanks to growing research, the stigma these drugs have borne for several decades will eventually fade. If all goes well, the psychedelics market alone could be worth about $6.85 billion by 2027.
Psychedelics are well on their way to becoming mainstream, no doubt about that. Individuals, scientists and even Big Pharma are already realizing how powerfully they can change the lives of people as a whole. We may even see psychedelics having the same legal status as alcohol one day – this would be vastly more beneficial and much better than alcohol ever was.
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