In recent years the U.S. has seen a dramatic resurgence of research into the medical use of psychedelics, after the drug war put a decades-long halt on scientific advancement. Despite psilocybin, LSD and other hallucinogens still being labeled as “Schedule 1” drugs, researchers are discovering the astounding benefits of their medical application.
Last December, pioneering clinical trials found that magic mushrooms heal mental illness like a “surgical intervention.” Advanced cancer patients have “experienced immediate and dramatic reductions in anxiety and depression, improvements that were sustained for at least six months.” Psychedelics can treat addiction, ADHD and PTSD, and can replace years of depression therapy. Alongside medical cannabis, psychedelics can arguably solve the opioid epidemic.
Now, research is showing the positive effects of psychedelic use on social dynamics—by reducing criminal behavior. Researchers surveyed 480,000 people to produce some eye-opening results.
“Classic psychedelics such as psilocybin (often called magic mushrooms), LSD and mescaline (found in peyote) are associated with a decreased likelihood of antisocial criminal behavior, according to new research from investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The findings, published online Sept. 24 by the Journal of Psychopharmacology, suggest that treatments making use of classic psychedelics like psilocybin could well hold promise in reducing criminal behavior…
Having ever used a classic psychedelic was associated with a 27 percent decrease in the odds of committing larceny/theft, a 12 percent decrease in the odds of committing assault, a 22 percent decrease in the odds of arrest for a property crime, and an 18 percent decrease in the odds of arrest for a violent crime in the past year.”
Interestingly, it appears that psychedelics are far more likely to reduce crime than putting more cops on the street. At most, increasing the police presence has preceded a 5% drop in crime, but other case studies show no correlation, and some have shown the opposite.
The idea that responsible use of psychedelics can heal both the individual and the society is fatal to Drug War propaganda. It’s also a direct threat to the profits of Big Pharma, which enjoys government-granted monopolies to keep Americans hooked on their far more dangerous drugs.
It is no wonder research into psychedelics—which mostly consist of natural plant/fungus extracts—remains prohibitively expensive and burdensome due to their designation as ‘Controlled Substances.’
During the 1950s and 1960s, great understanding was being made into the therapeutic aspect of psychedelics, before the War on Drugs was unleashed on humanity. LSD was successfully being used to treat alcoholism, neurosis, schizophrenia, and psychopathy.
Authors of the current study note that they are demonstrating what people have known for thousands of years.
“These findings are consistent with a growing body of research suggesting classic psychedelics confer enduring psychological and prosocial benefits,” [Peter] Hendricks said. “Classic psychedelics can produce primary mystical experiences—also known as primary religious experiences or peak experiences—and have been used for millennia across cultures with therapeutic intention.“
Hendricks said his findings “suggest that clinical research with classic psychedelics in forensic [psychological] settings should be considered.” Science is showing that mystical experiences are indeed a benefit to the individual and society.
Fascinating research using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows that, under the influence of psilocybin, the brain enters a pattern of activity similar to the dream state. Primitive areas of the brain linked to emotions, memory and arousal become more synchronized, while higher-level thinking and the “sense of self” become unsynchronized.
Our “default mode network” (DMN) which is involved in our ingrained thought patterns and behaviors, decreases in activity, which can allow people to break free from destructive brain patterns. Johns Hopkins Medicine stated, “A history of psychedelic drug use is associated with less psychological distress and fewer suicidal thoughts, planning and attempts…”
We are making leaps and bounds in understanding how psychedelics can treat mental illness, and now, how it can improve society by reducing crime. Government’s war on drugs—really just a war on people—is the biggest obstacle.
Justin Gardner is a peaceful free-thinker with a background in the biological sciences. He is interested in bringing rationality back into the national discourse, and independent journalism as a challenge to the status quo. This article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.