How LSD and shrooms could help treat anxiety, addiction and depression

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It was the most peaceful, joyous, incredible, life changing experience I've ever had in

my life. There were scary parts, foreboding parts … I always knew there was beautiful

and joy and peace on the other side of it. It was freeing, it was really freeing.

This is Alana. She’s describing what she felt after she took a dose of this stuff — psilocybin.

It’s a naturally occurring psychedelic compound, the kind you find in magic mushrooms.

But she wasn’t tripping in a dorm room or at Woodstock — it actually wasn’t recreational

at all. If anything became unreal or I was feeling

nervous or not in touch with reality, I would squeeze his hand and he would squeeze mine

back just to reassure me that I was okay and everything was alright.

It was part of a controlled medical test to see if psychedelics could be useful in helping

people quit cigarettes. Alana had been smoking for 37 years before her session with psilocybin,

and she hasn’t had a cigarette since.

Research on psychedelics for medical use is preliminary. Most studies suffer from really small

sample sizes. That’s partly because the federal government lists LSD and psilocybin

as Schedule 1 drugs. So researchers face extra red tape, and funding is really hard to come by.

Vox writer German Lopez reviewed dozens of studies that have been done. He found that

psychedelics show promise for treating addiction, OCD, anxiety, and in some cases, depression.

One small study of 15 smokers found that 80 percent were able to abstain from smoking

for six months after a psilocybin treatment. In a pilot study of 12 advanced cancer patients

suffering from end-of-life anxiety, participants who took psilocybin generally showed lower

scores on a test of depression. And smaller study suggested psilocybin treatment