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Psychedelics and Mental Health

Below are some of the most common questions about psychedelics use and its effect on mental health.

What are Psychedelics?

The term psychedelics (or hallucinogens) refers to a class of substances that affect an individual’s perception, mood and cognitive functioning.

While the presence of hallucinations – meaning seeing or hearing things that do not exist and/or seeing or hearing things in a distorted or altered way – is often discussed, psychedelics also more generally affect an individual’s thought processes, sense of time, emotions and more.

Substances that fall under this category include ayahuasca, LSD, DMT, salvia and psilocybin (or “magic mushrooms”).

Are Psychedelics Legal in Illinois?

The use of psychedelics is currently illegal within the state of Illinois, but lawmakers are currently working toward the legalization of psilocybin (or “magic mushrooms”) within a therapy setting.

This type of therapeutic treatment, although relatively new and not without controversy, has been studied to have positive applications when used in a clinical setting with patients who suffer from conditions such as substance use disorders, PTSD, and depression, especially in individuals who have been unable to overcome their condition using traditional medication.

While psychedelics use remains illegal in Illinois, psychedelics therapy has been made legal in Oregon and Colorado.

What is Psychedelics Therapy?

Psychedelics therapy refers to a form of therapeutic treatment in which patients are given carefully measured doses of psilocybin or another psychedelic substance within a clinical setting. The use of the psychedelic substances is closely monitored and completed in the presence of qualified doctors who can ensure the patient is safe and comfortable.

In addition to the administration of psychedelics, patients are also required to attend regular psychotherapy sessions with a qualified mental health professional, as is often the case with the administration of any mental health medication.

The goal of the treatment is to break negative or destructive thought patterns while constructing new or improved coping mechanisms to allow them to overcome their condition for the long term.

What Mental Health Conditions are Psychedelics Used to Treat?

While the use of psychedelics in mental health is still new and controversial, early studies have shown some promise in the use of psychedelics within a supervised, clinical setting for the treatment of conditions such as substance use disorders, PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

Are Psychedelics Better than Antidepressants?

Psychedelics are not “better” than antidepressants, nor should they be viewed as a suitable replacement for mental health medication.

The use of psychedelics within a clinical setting is promising, but every individual is different and should receive an individualized treatment plan to match their unique condition, goals, beliefs, and medical history.

Are Psychedelics a Safe Way to Treat Mental Health?

The use of psychedelics within a clinical setting has shown promise to treat a number of mental health disorders, but it is not without its critics. Like all substances from coffee to anti-anxiety medications, psychedelics come with their own set of side effects, and many professionals and laypeople remain skeptical about their use.

As always, check with your doctor before attempting any form of medication or treatment, and follow all state and federal laws when doing so.