• Question: what are psychdelic drugs

    Asked by anon-321435 on 1 Apr 2022.
    • Photo: Luke Humphrey

      Luke Humphrey answered on 17 Mar 2022:

      Hi Miss Goodin, great question!

      Psychedelic drugs are recreational psychoactive drugs, specifically hallucinogens. Let’s break that down word by word:
      * Drugs are chemical substances which affect the body, including medicines and recreational drugs.
      * Drugs that affect the brain are called “psychoactive drugs”.
      * Psychoactive drugs that cause sensory hallucinations are called “hallucinogens”. People under the influence of hallucinogens can see and hear things that aren’t there, alongside more subtle hard-to-describe effects,
      * “Psychedelic drugs” are a specific form of hallucinogen that is used to trigger a “psychedelic trip”, which is a non-ordinary form of consciousness. They are typically used recreationally (for enjoyment), and they have spiritual significance to some cultures, notably native American cultures.

      Psychedelic drugs can be very dangerous. Surprisingly, the risk of overdose is not the main worry, but rather the dangers are the ordinary everyday things that would not usually be dangerous. This is because when someone is under the influence of psychedelic drugs they cannot safely judge how dangerous something is. There have been recorded cases where people have done dangerous or deadly things because they believed they had superpowers. Even walking down the street can be very dangerous for someone on a psychedelic trip.

      In most countries, the majority of psychedelic drugs are illegal, but of course this doesn’t mean people aren’t using them. This makes them a bit of a blind spot for science! Psychedelic drugs are a really active research area these days, but there’s still a lot we don’t know. The same active ingredients as used in psychedelics are also being used in smaller doses to treat anxiety, depression, and addiction – but again, this is quite a new research area and there’s a lot we don’t know yet.

      In general, it is much harder to do scientific experiments on substances that affect people because your first priority is not to cause harm to anybody. If those substances are illegal, this makes it even harder because there will be a lot of security, limitations, and paperwork involved ensuring the study is done legally.

      This is also an area of science that has been neglected due to cultural reasons. In western society, science has historically been the domain of wealthy white men, which is something we’re still feeling the effects of. Any research areas that haven’t been of interest to this privileged class have been neglected. This class has historically associated psychedelic drugs with ethnic minorities and hippies, especially in the USA, and so research has been neglected in part due to racism and the “war on drugs”.

      This is all very sad! But I hope in 2020s we will see a lot of good research in this area of drugs to discover how these chemicals can be used to help people – and that we will keep prioritising people’s safety when we do research. Finding things out is important, but being safe and keeping others safe is infinitely more important.

    • Photo: Daisy Shearer

      Daisy Shearer answered on 20 Mar 2022:

      What an interesting question! I’m afraid this isn’t really my area of expertise but as far as I understand it, psychedelic drugs are substances that cause you to experience altered states of consciousness. That includes things like visual and auditory hallucinations. They can be used recreationally, as part of spiritual practices and sometimes for treating mental health conditions like depression when given in really small doses.

    • Photo: Lucy Lawrence

      Lucy Lawrence answered on 21 Mar 2022:

      When this question was first asked by Miss Goodin in my session I was nervous, because I work for Technology Networks, and also for Analytical Cannabis (they’re sister companies).

      Analytical cannabis is a leading cannabis science publication for scientists, technicians, and business professionals working in the cannabis, hemp, and psychedelics.

      I’ve also recently created a video series with my work all about psychedelics and what they are. So I’m pretty well prepared to answer this question

      But as i said, I was nervous about this question as its not classically something that schools are open to discussing with children – especially as more often than not you arent sure the age range of the children you are speaking with on here (As soon as this question was asked, i took the psychedelics part off of my profile)

      But having said that, im really glad that you have commented on here. I think Luke has done a great job describing psychedelics in this thread already, there’s not much more I can add to this, but im also really excited to see that this is opening up a discussion between the scientists here too.

      The word psychedelic literally means “mind revealing,” which is one way to describe the powerful effects of psychedelic drugs.

      I’ve seen a lot of research happen into the world of psychedelic drugs, and the psychedelic drug isolated from so-called “magic mushrooms”, called psilocybin could be used to help people with treatment-resistant depression and PTSD.

      Obviously the scientists with access to these powerful chemicals are incredibly well trained, have a lot of experience and know exactly what they are doing. They have spent years training!!

      Alot of studies into psychedelic drugs are actually happening here in the UK – which was surprising to me as I thought it would all be US-based.

      But i’d like to obviously end on saying, that the best place to find out answers to these questions is of course;https://www.talktofrank.com/

      And I’d like to also mirror how luke closed his comment by saying that “Finding things out is important, but being safe and keeping others safe is infinitely MUCH more important.”