Should Getting High be a Possible Treatment for Depression?
This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.
|Psilocybe mexicana, image courtesy of Wikipedia.
In the Lancet study, researchers used a very controlled environment to ensure the safety of the patients. All of the subjects received two doses of psilocybin, 7 days apart from each other, in a dark room with psychological support present. Support was also provided before and after each session and patients were assessed periodically up to 3 months after the treatment to ensure that no psychotic symptoms developed (Carhart-Harris et al., 2016). The authors of the study claim that there is much to consider before psilocybin becomes a viable treatment option, but the results do suggest that psilocybin could be a possible treatment in the future (Cormier, 2016). However, if you had a condition that compromised your quality of life dramatically—to the point that you consider ending your own life— wouldn’t you take the risk of self-medicating with psilocybin, even if it is illegal?
|Psilocybin experience session. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
In the USA, psilocybin is classified as a Class I drug, along with MDMA and heroin, due to the potential for its abuse and the fact that it has no current acceptable medical use (Nutt, King and Nichols, 2013). The risks associated with the use of psilocybin are especially threatening for patients with depression who might have less predictable responses to psilocybin (Tyl et al. 2014). For a healthy individual, the worse that is likely to happen if they are found possessing psilocybin is imprisonment, but in the case of patients with depression who have an increased susceptibility for “bad trips,” the lack of control with which they could potentially ingest this drug could lead to worsening of their conditions and even self-inflicted harm (Amsterdam, Opperhuizen and Brink, 2011). The use of psilocybin and other hallucinogenic compounds might have a bright future as a treatment for depression, but the time period between the release of the preliminary results and the actual development of a viable treatment that is accompanied by suitable regulations will likely be long.
Want to cite this post?
Martinez, Maria Paula. (2016). Should Getting High be a Possible Treatment for Depression? The Neuroethics Blog. Retrieved on , from http://www.theneuroethicsblog.com/2016/08/should-getting-high-be-possible.html