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Research Revived on Using Hallucinogens to Treat Mental Illness, Addiction

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As memories of Woodstock-era acid trips fade from memory, researchers are revisiting hallucinogenic drugs as possible treatments for addiction and mental illness, the New York Times reported April 12.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins, for example, are studying whether psilocybin, the active ingredient in “magic” mushrooms, can be used to treat depression. Others are studying the effects that psychedelics can have on individuals with alcohol and other drug addictions, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Initial results have shown some promise. Researchers are not only querying patients about the impact of hallucinogenic use but also using brain scans.

The long history of using hallucinogens as part of spiritual ceremonies — often credited with life-changing revelations — has intrigued researchers. Many Johns Hopkins research subjects said that the experience of taking psilocybin was one of the most meaningful experiences of their lives, resulting in a enhanced sense of empathy and connectedness with other people.

Researchers at the University of Arizona, Harvard, New York University, and UCLA also are conducting studies on beneficial use of hallucinogens.

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