The available treatments for disorders affecting large segments of the population are often costly, complex, and only marginally effective, and many have numerous side effects. These disorders include dementias, debilitating neurological disorders, the multiple types of drug addiction, and the spectrum of mental health disorders.
Preliminary studies have shown that a variety of psychedelic and similar U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Schedule I drugs may offer better treatment options than those that currently exist and pose potentially the same or even less risk than do legal psychoactive (alcohol, caffeine, nicotine) and nonpsychoactive (aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen) substances. The pharmaceutical industry and academia, however, have largely avoided this avenue of research.
Fairness to the affected populations demands that these drugs be adequately studied and, if they or their congeners are shown to be effective, made available with the proper caveats, instructions, and protections that other potentially abused medications (e.g., narcotics) receive. These substances may prove to relieve patients’ struggles with less effective treatments and decrease mortality from nontreatment of some conditions.