If researchers have a say, you could soon be hallucinating your way to better health.
"Scientists are taking a new look at hallucinogens, which became taboo among regulators after enthusiasts like Timothy Leary promoted them in the 1960s with the slogan “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Now, using rigorous protocols and safeguards, scientists have won permission to study once again the drugs’ potential for treating mental problems and illuminating the nature of consciousness."- New York Times, front page article 4/12/10
Rexella would certainly not approve.
For me though, the jury's still out.
Having lived a past life as a satisfied and delighted consumer of hallucinogens, and a present life as a substance abuse counselor, I feel conflicted as to what outcomes I would ideally like this research to produce.
The 'Counselor' Thinks...
My mind immediately darts to and scans the comparison of hallucinogens to marijuana as a potential medicinal substance.
At the agency I toil for, we do not currently test for THC on our toxicology panel. Why? It's hella expensive, THC stays in the system for-ev-er, and we are far more concerned about substances that can actively kill or literally physically debiliate an individual, which (surpriiiise!) marijuana does not.
Also, the apparent slow and steady legalization (read: legislative indifference)of marijuana as both a medicinal and recreational substance is definitely of note. (You can find an enlightening recent article regarding this state of the Union here at the Economist.) At the agency I work for, we medicate all opiate-dependent clients with a medication called methadone*.
Now - just like with marijuana, some people take advantage of this medication, some don't. Although it's prescribed purpose is not the same. For some methadone is a 'miracle' medication that can bring those individuals in the throes of addiction back from a lifetime in the judicial and state systems. But, even those who take it and benefit from it's intended purpose are conflicted about taking it on a regular basis. Like my grandmother with Advil, some people are wary about taking something, anything that will alter their chemistry, even if it is basically inert and assists them in living a more productive life.
What might people think about a mind altering medication? Like hallucinogens? Who would be first in line? Would people who have never walked the line and used any substances even want to take it? Would it only be for those who want to work the system to get legal grade hallucinogens?
I give up. There are too many variables as the counselor. I'm sitting here, head spinning like Linda Blair from the Exorcist. Pea soup is threatening to spew out of my face at any minute, so lets go to a happier place.
The 'Consumer' Thinks:
Young Rainey sobs at the inherent beauty of disintegrating fall leaves in the dewy dirt as she stands listening to the trunk of a grand, statuesque oak tree. She breaths in and out. In and out. In and in and in and out. Feels at one with the world. She decides to bathe herself with the leaves and laughs with joy at how everything seems as one. Laughs to hear her laughter. Gets 'stuck' in her head and is rescued by her beloved friend stretching out to offer a piece of sticky crystalized ginger. Oh goodness. It is like a universe dancing on her taste buds....
Safe to say that 'Consumer' Rainey is all for hallucinogens becoming a bigger part of our lives.
Thank you for sticking with this rambling post. And be assured I was on no hallucinogens while creating it. White wine on the other hand is another story...
*Please feel free to ask me questions at any time about methadone, because it is quite misunderstood in our society and I would like to educate and be a conduit for decreasing undeserved negative stigma wherever possible.