Letter: Keeping psychedelics illegal limits treatment options for people struggling with mental health

Struggling with mental health for years means you’ve probably tried multiple treatments, but would you consider trying psychedelics?

In Western medicine, one of the last resort treatments to severe depression is electroconvulsive therapy. Also known as shock therapy, the treatment consists of running a mild electric current through your brain to cause a short seizure. Seems quite excessive and extreme when you can use natural plants and herbs to cure your mental illnesses and even give you a newfound sense of purpose and happiness.

20% of America struggles with mental illness, and PTSD has killed more soldiers by suicide than in war since 9/11. But most of the psychedelic remedies like ayahuasca, psilocybin and LSD are illegal and are the harshest penalized drugs by the law.

Many people are losing hope in Western medicine to provide relief, so they resort to traveling out the country to get their hands on these remedies and cure their mental illness once and for all.

Scientists and researchers are finally seeing the value of these natural treatments based on the research they have been conducting. They have no doubt that they work and produce amazing results, but do not exactly know how. Some of their theories determine that they change the way certain parts of the brain communicate with each other and how they turn on and off.

After the psychedelic process or “trip” people come back with a newfound sense of purpose and confidence in themselves they’ve never felt before. Most of the drugs that are considered dangerous come from a plant or herb that has been abused in the hands of the wrong people, usually to gain monetary profit. If the government regulated these psychedelics, it would be a win-win situation for everybody.

These remedies would be available to the public while the government gains significant profit from the industry. Scientists are concerned about the legal distribution of the remedies, however. Even if the substances are approved for medical treatment, the cost of it could be overly expensive for those who need it, and could become an accessibility to only the rich.

Jesse Gould, a veteran who’s an active advocate for using psychedelics as treatment is aware of this problem. His program Heroic Hearts operates on donations, since these retreats cost up to four thousand dollars or more. Veterans reach out to his program because the standard “antidepressants and talk” therapies in the United States are not working and they’re losing hope. His program sends veterans to Mexico, Peru and Jamaica where psychedelics and psychotherapy are used, and they come back thriving and excelling in life.

Keeping these psychedelics illegal is hindering significant chances people have to achieve real peace of mind and get rid of America’s mental health crisis. Most people are already self medicating with illegal drugs, but the things on the street are deadly and cause more harm than good because they are not regulated. We should not be keeping these treatments that are obviously working stigmatized. Over 50 million Americans are counting on new solutions.

Valeria Gonzales, Salt Lake City

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