Veteran psychedelic therapies suggested by hopeful New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang announced on May 27 that if he was elected mayor of New York City, he would personally urge investing in veterans and allowing the use of psychedelic therapies for people suffering from disorders such as depression, suicide, homelessness and post-traumatic life Illnesses suffer from Stress Disorder (PTSD). Yang’s plan would create a partnership between the US Department of Veterans Affairs, New York hospitals, and local universities.
The New York Post first reported on Yang’s blueprint for veterans’ use of psychedelic therapies – including legalizing certain substances in controlled medical facilities, including psilocybin mushrooms and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). Cannabis would also fall under psychedelics.
Amid a recent increase in funding for the City Veterans Aid Department, Yang plans to take advantage of these benefits. New York City’s city budget for fiscal 2021 is nearly $ 7 million for the Department of Veteran Services – but Yang plans to increase that to $ 10 million, according to the campaign.
Yang’s grand plan – the first veteran-specific platform among current candidates for New York mayor – would also include the goal of putting aside five percent of the city’s military veteran jobs and contracts. Yang’s plan also provides for $ 2 million in legal counseling for veterans who fall below the poverty line.
“As Americans we owe a great debt to those who campaigned for our country, and as New Yorkers we have the power not only to pay that debt but also to put it at the center of our city’s rebuilding “Said Yang Yang in a statement. “For decades, our city has let down the veterans who live here and who suffer from appallingly disproportionate rates of homelessness, mental health problems and suicide,” he added. “As mayor, I will see that investing in our veterans is an investment in the future of our city.”
Yang also plans to build a Veterans Memorial in Battery Park and launch a program that will allow city workers to try to connect veterans with the city services available to them. The idea was based on a similar project in Boston, Massachusetts called Operation Thank-a-Vet.
One benefit of alternative psychedelic therapies is a way out of opioid addiction – a disease that is particularly ubiquitous in the veteran community. Veterans who have had combat experience are prone to concurrent disorders such as depression or PTSD combined with a dependence on prescription opioids. “Opioid addiction makes me angry – like many other Americans,” Yang told the High Times in 2020, “when you have this plague catalyzed by Purdue Pharma and these big drug companies that have made billions of dollars.”
Yang’s plan would challenge the current model of large drug companies by introducing alternatives to hard-to-treat conditions common among veterans.
What Does Science Say About Psychedelic Therapies For Veterans?
Growing evidence supports theories that psychedelic therapies like psilocybin mushrooms, MDMA, and cannabis may prove effective in treating illness in veterans. According to Yang’s plan, New York state veterans are eight times more likely to develop PTSD and 2-4 times more likely to develop major depression than non-veterans.
A 2013 study by a team of researchers at the University of South Florida found that psilocybin stimulates a process called neurogenesis, or the growth and repair of brain cells in the hippocampus – the brain’s center for emotions and memory.
Mice given psilocybin performed much better when exposed to fear conditioning than mice given placebo. The results support the growing hypothesis that psilocybin may help break the traumatic cycle that occurs in patients with PTSD.
According to a randomized pilot study published in the journal Scientific Reports, MDMA-assisted psychotherapy was effective in treating anxiety and other psychological distress associated with life-threatening illnesses.
It is not yet clear whether Yang’s plan to approve psychedelic therapies will include other medically beneficial substances like ketamine, which is FDA cleared in many forms.
Yang also praised the Mount Sinai Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research for its efforts to find more effective treatment for PTSD.
Yang’s plan would work for hundreds of thousands of New York City veterans. “Despite these enormous contributions, a staggering 10.1 percent of veterans in New York City live below the poverty line. In 2016, the median median income of veterans living in NYC was just over $ 35,000. ”Yang’s plan aims to address several of these problems by making psychedelic therapies affordable.