It’s no secret that drug policy is confusing. At times, it can seem that there is little scientific rigour involved in the regulation of substances (for up-to-date, confidential advice and information on drugs, visit talktofrank.com). This state of affairs is changing slowly, however, as researchers discover previously unknown, positive effects in some of the most villainised drugs.
Of particular interest is the use of psychedelic drugs in treating mental illness. At Imperial College, scientists have been mapping the effects of LSD on the brain, showing that it can be used to develop therapeutic approaches for breaking patterns of negative thought and treating depression.
Elsewhere, psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, has been found to be effective in alleviating anxiety and depression among cancer patients for as long as six months after a single dose. And in tests on mice, a chemical by-product created when the body breaks down the ketamine has reversed depression-like behaviours without triggering any of the dissociative or addictive side effects normally connected with the drug.
All this adds up to a potential renaissance when it comes to understanding how these drugs affect the human body. Perhaps soon, a visit to the doctor may mean coming away clutching a prescription for something that would currently see you locked up.