Mindful Monkey.

Can Magic Mushrooms Unlock Depression?

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This is well worth watching.

A clinical psychologist from Imperial College describes how Magic Mushrooms (Psilocybin), when used in a therapeutic setting, have been found to be a very effective treatment for depression. In this talk she draws on her experiences as working as a therapist on the groundbreaking Psilocybin for Depression study, and introduces us to some of the patients and their stories of transformation.


Psychoactive Substances Act Postponed Indefinitely

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This new legislation (which was due to come into force on April 6th) has been postponed indefinitely.

Home Office have now announced that

“the commencement date for the legislation would no longer be 6th April 2016.” And

“a new date for commencement has yet to be confirmed.”

This seems like a bit of a mystery. Perhaps the volume of criticism led to a rethink? It has been argued that the law will be difficult to enforce.

Source: Psychoactive Substances Act Postponed Indefinitely


“You’re not hallucinating, MPs really did pass crazy bad drug law” says New Scientist

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You’re not hallucinating, MPs really did pass crazy bad drug law

These are not my words but the headline of an article in New Scientist. I’ve been tracking the discussion around the new ‘Psychoactive Substances Bill‘ for a while. The disquiet around this legislation has been mostly expressed in more measured tones, so this, coming from a scientific publication stood out.

Since Mephedrone (MCAT, Meow, Bubble) there was a  ‘leap frogging’ between new drugs (NPS) and the law, and it was evident that each time a set of designer drugs got banned, a new set appeared. And each new set of drugs seemed more hazardous than the last. Things seemed to be getting progressively worse.

So the government decided that a ‘ban everything’ approach would solve the problem. There are two potential issues with this approach. Firstly if you say everything psychoactive is illegal, you immediately need to start creating exceptions. So it starts with Alcohol, Caffeine and Tobacco, but then where will it end? Secondly how do you police this? There is no evidence that making a drugs illegal makes them go away; but there is evidence that criminalising substances creates unintended consequences, most notably more crime.

This reminds me of the saying (often mistakenly attributed to Einstein, but of unknown origin) that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Consider this: We know the safety profile of Cannabis, it has been around for a long time and there are no known cases of overdose or physical harm. There is a worldwide trend towards decriminalising it and it is being researched for a range of medical uses. While at the same time the latest synthetic cannabinoids (helpfully produced for us in China) are creating merry hell in prisons, amongst homeless people and other vulnerable populations. Are you beginning to see a possible solution?

Source: You’re not hallucinating, MPs really did pass crazy bad drug law | New Scientist


The Top 10 Drug Policy Stories of 2013

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An article in the Huffington Post does a good job of pointing out some important trends in drug policy and what might be on the horizon, in particular the tide may be turning away from the ‘War on Drugs’. What is interesting is the overall optimistic outlook, that things might be moving in a more progressive direction.

Even though the issues highlighted here relate to the USA, they are very relevant to what happens in the rest of the world.

One thing that caught my eye in particular was the US Attorney General Eric Holder criticising the policy of putting people in prison for drug offences:

 

“The path we are currently on is far from sustainable,” said Holder. “As we speak, roughly one out of every 100 American adults is behind bars. Although the United States comprises just five percent of the world’s population, we incarcerate almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners… It carries both human and moral costs that are too much to bear. And it results in far too many Americans serving too much time in too many prisons – and beyond the point of serving any good law enforcement reason.”

Yes that really does say 1 in a 100 of the population in prison!

In case you wanted to take a look at the article here is the link: The Beginning of the End: The Top 10 Drug Policy Stories of 2013 | Tony Newman.

In the June 2011 an article in the New England Journal of Medicine* pointed to some of the implications of this policy of incarceration: that in the past 50 years the US government policies “… have shifted the burden of care for addiction and mental illness to prisons” and goes on the show how prisons are in no position to deal with these issues in any way that we would regard humane.

I am pretty sure that people working the substance use field in this country will recognise this situation and hope that things will change at some point. If policy makers remember that prison actually costs more that most treatments, they might realise the value of doing the right thing, which is to invest in treatment rather than chasing people around with a stick.

 

Reference: *The New England Journal of Medicine June 2011 364:22 pp 2081-2083


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