Hey Gabe. I came across this interesting article from the NY Times on some medical research being done on the role that psychedelics can play in helping people cope with terminal illness. When coupled with other studies that seem to suggest a very positive clinical impact that psychedelics can elicit without the risk of death via overdose, it would seem that at the very least the United States government should change the Schedule 1 classification that most psychedelics have.
I no longer use psychedelics myself but I do feel that they have a long-term positive impact on my psyche (though admittedly, I probably overly indulged in my late teen years). Moreover, I feel that as more and more people walk away from religious doctrine and belief in the afterlife, coping with death will prove to be a fairly difficult psychological obstacle for mainstream society. Therefore, I’m all for offering a clinically-controlled, chemical means for dealing with this most fundamental human frailty.
I think I know where you stand on this, but I definitely don’t want to assume, so I’d love it if you could share your thoughts on the matter.
Hey, Hugo. Thanks for sharing the article. I think you do know where I would stand on this one. I would have to be against the use of psychedelics as coping mechanisms for end of life treatment. Simply put, Death is a natural part of life. I have no problem with people taking opiates at a hospital if they’re in pain, but psychedelics to deal with the stress/fears of dying is to me essentially nothing more than using mind-altering drugs as a coping mechanism to deal with real life problems. In fact, this is why most people use illegal, mind-altering drugs on a day to day basis. I know that was the case for me. I was simply depressed and didn’t want to deal with my problems. I think making them legal for such uses would become a slippery slope. I understand the logic for the end of life treatment is empathy, but what about the high school kid that is depressed? Is that not just as valid to/for him? If you justify end of life treatment, why not depression, or even a headache for that matter? And that just means anyone using mind-altering drugs for whenever reason they want (sounds like a Libertarian utopia – lol).
Now, I do agree that the current drug schedules are all wrong (they even have Weed as a schedule 1, and not Cociane); and I also agree that if illegal, mind-altering drugs are a more efficient means of resolving a chemical/biological problem (not psychological), then that’s fine. For example, using Marijuana for Glaucoma or to stimulate the hunger of cancer patients; but to use it for the purpose of dealing anxiety with anxiety related to death? We either already have stuff that does that like Xanax/Valium, or these peeps need to do just like everyone else and work through it with counseling. Life is hard. We never know what will come next (good or bad), but when it does, we need to have the kinds of coping skills to deal with it (be it that we are told we’re going to die, or that we are fired). And we can only have such coping skills exactly because we’ve dealt with and seen through previous, stressful problems in our lives. If every time something came up that seemed psychologically overwhelming (stress-wise), we just turned to a mind-altering drug/chemical to deal with it, what would that do to our natural ability to develop coping skills? Wouldn’t we essentially just be chemically-dependent on mind-altering drugs to deal with things we’d rather not? That sounds like an addiction problem to me, not a cure.
Thanks for the detailed response, Gabe. You definitely make some good points about the importance of teach people how to develop solid intellectual/emotional coping skills. I sometimes wonder if the use of psychedelics permanently alters brain composition (there are some studies that seem to suggest this) and when I’m in an especially “pipe dream” kind of mood (pun intended) I sometimes wonder if use of psychedelics are a form of external stimuli that results in a mutation of sorts that can ultimately result in the human species changing over time.
Fortunately, I recognize that these assertions of mine have little to no evidence backing them up, and so I don’t put much weight in them since they’re little more than flights of imagination at this point (the fact that these substances are Schedule 1 prevents serious research being done in this arena, but that’s a topic for another day).
I don’t think a human being needs psychedelics to cope with life’s stresses, but then again, I’m not opposed to it either especially if it’s done responsibly and in moderation. I basically equate it to someone having a beer or a glass of wine at the end of a long, stressful day.