Changing Minds: Psychedelics are making their way into the mainstream. And into modern medicine. Can they heal America’s mental health crisis?
“Mommies Who Mushroom.” “Can MDMA Save a Marriage?” “LSD Capitalism.” If it seems like psychedelics are everywhere, don’t worry — you’re not hallucinating. Substances like psilocybin (aka shrooms), ketamine, MDMA, and LSD are having a moment.
Tell me more.
Americans were anxious, depressed, and highly medicated before the pandemic. Now, the nation’s mental health crisis is even worse. But the medical field’s opening up to alternatives, especially for treatment-resistant depression or PTSD. There are currently more than 70 shrooms studies, looking at its effects on everything from eating disorders to opioid addiction. For the first time in decades, the FDA gave the go-ahead to a major LSD trial for anxiety. It approved esketamine (derived from ketamine) for treatment-resistant depression a few years ago. And could greenlight MDMA-assisted therapy next.
When can we get a script for these?
Not to be a downer, but it may take time. Even though the FDA has fast-tracked studies of some psychedelics, the gov still classifies most of these as Schedule 1 substances. Meaning, there’s no “currently accepted medical use” and they have “high potential for abuse.” Maybe that explains why funding for studies has been hard to find. Or why the recommended treatment plans might be so intense and expensive.
Wait, back up. Is all of this even legal?
Yes, but only in clinical research. Which doesn’t include your friends who are microdosing. Unless you live in Oregon, which has decriminalized all drugs and voted to legalize psilocybin in a therapeutic setting. (The state is still working out the details.) Or, if you’ve been prescribed ketamine. It’s an FDA-approved anesthetic, but is increasingly used off-label as a mental health treatment.
Psychedelics are still illegal in most of the US. But some are also being called breakthrough therapies for mental health. It’s probably too soon to know if they’ll one day be as common as Prozac or Zoloft. But it’s clear some Americans say ‘it’s high time’ for new solutions.
The weekend means more time to do the things you love. For many of us, that’s reading. But we can’t Skimm it all for you. So instead, we’re giving you a look at the reads we’ve saved, texted, and emailed to our friends…
The Karen Who Cried Kidnapping...how a California couple went to the craft store — and were accused of a crime that never happened.
The Fortunes of Mackenzie Scott…an unlikely journey to becoming one of the most powerful (and philanthropic) women in the world.
Behind the South Asian Folk and Jazz Blends That Won a Grammy…meet musician Arooj Aftab, who sang a different tune — and made history.
Downtime doesn’t have to mean doing nothing. Here’s one idea for making the most of your weekend.
There’s no better time to take it outside. Today, the National Park Service is waiving its entrance fees to kick off National Park Week. That means more than 400 forests, monuments, seashores and canyons — from Acadia to Yosemite — are free. Fun fact: That also includes some ships and submarines that are considered national historic landmarks.
If you can’t make it today, don't worry, you'll have more chances this year. (Plan ahead with road trip must-haves.) Or, bring the great outdoors indoors with the new Netflix series, “Our Great National Parks,” narrated by former President Barack Obama. The next best thing to an actual walk in the park.
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