Drug

Magic Mushrooms Are the Safest Recreational Drug, Says New Study

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A large new study claims that among recreational drugs, magic mushrooms seem to be the safest to use. This was based on the statistic that only .2% of nearly 10,000 people who used psilocybin-containing mushrooms in 2016 went to emergency room.

The annual Global Drug Survey involved over 120,000 participants from 50 countries and concluded that as far as ending up in emergency rooms afterwards, taking MDMA, LSD, alcohol and cocaine made that five times more likely. The drug causing the most emergency visits – methamphetamine, followed by synthetic cannabis.

“Magic mushrooms are one of the safest drugs in the world,” said Adam Winstock, a consultant addiction psychiatrist and the founder of the Global Drug Survey in an interview with The Guardian.

global survey
global survey

Winstock thinks the biggest…

Will This Insanely Powerful Psychedelic Drug Someday Help Your Sanity?

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As we have mentioned on Big Think before, psychedelic drugs are currently enjoying a surge of new interest in medicine. Psilocybin is showing potential in the treatment of anxiety, and LSD shows promise against alcoholism. While some of these drugs were used previously for therapeutic purposes, their association with the counterculture proved dangerous to their legality. As such, only now are their potential benefits being reconsidered.

A recent study shows yet another psychedelic to have potent and potentially therapeutic effects. The drug is Ayahuasca, a concoction consisting primarily of the chemical DMT, with other elements added to aid in the absorption of the drug. DMT is incredibly powerful, users often report the sensation of being in a different world, and when brewed as Ayahuasca the length of a trip goes from five minutes to several hours. Ayahuasca is therefore regarded, justly, as one of the most extreme psychedelic drugs in existence.

The study by José Carlos Bouso and others examined the brains of 22 long term users of Ayahuasca. When their brains were measured for thickness in the posterior cingulate cortex it was…

Columbia Professor: The War on Drugs Is a War on Race

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Every 25 seconds in the US, someone is arrested for drug possession. In Manhattan, black people—just 15% of the population—are 11 times more likely to be arrested on drug possession that white people.

For centuries Europeans drank—and for some today, drink—a lot of ale. Numerous accounts of polluted water in the 13th to 18th centuries abound, which apparently forced the citizens of London and Germany to drink plenty of alcohol—one entry from St. Paul’s Cathedral allowed for one bola (gallon) per person every day. Others claim that such an amount was unsustainable on the environment, if not the liver.

Whether or not the English and Germans drank a gallon a day, it is certain that beer was an integral part of daily life, especially in monasteries. While it was common knowledge that a little alcohol elevates the spirits, it certainly was not considered a drug. At least a portion of the water sources really were contaminated. Even if widespread pollution is a myth, who wouldn’t want to believe it true if the solution meant breakfast with ale?

Our beliefs about the substances we ingest has always dictated public attitude toward them. “Drug” is a relative term. Ayahuasca has long been medicine for the soul—advocates call it “grandmother medicine,” with the grandfather being peyote. Marijuana’s history as a Schedule One substance is much shorter than its common usage in numerous cultures. Substances that alter consciousness are usually deemed sacraments, not sacrilegious. That changed roughly 50 years ago from a policy perspective.

That attitude changed for the same reason that the idea of building a wall on our Mexican border persists: racism. Carl Hart, who chairs the Department of Psychology at Columbia University, recently stated that the war on drugs is simply a war on race. This is not mere speculation. Last year an interview was published with a former aide to Richard Nixon in which he stated the war on drugs was specifically waged to put down any chance of minority revolt.

Are America’s Anti-Drug Laws Scientific? Or Are They Colonialist and Racist? Maia Szalavitz

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Are America’s Anti-Drug Laws Scientific? Or Are They Colonialist and Racist?

M_szalavitz_hs

Maia Szalavitz

Author, “Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction”

07:31

“Drugs” are simply chemical…

Anesthesia for youngsters is a tricky calculation

baby having surgery
Short, one-time bouts of anesthesia probably don’t cause lasting harm to children’s brains, several studies suggest. But scientists have a lot to learn about anesthetics’ lasting effects, particularly in the youngest patients.

If your young child is facing ear tubes, an MRI or even extensive dental work, you’ve probably got a lot of concerns. One of them may be about whether the drugs used to render your child briefly unconscious can permanently harm his brain. Here’s the frustrating answer: No one knows.

“It’s a tough conundrum for parents of kids who need procedures,” says pediatric anesthesiologist Mary Ellen McCann, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Everything has risks and benefits,” but in this case, the decision to go ahead with surgery is made more difficult by an incomplete understanding of anesthesia’s risks for babies and young children. Some studies suggest that single, short exposures to anesthesia aren’t dangerous. Still, scientists and doctors say that we desperately need more data before we really understand what anesthesia does to developing brains.

It helps to know this nonanswer comes with a lot of baggage, a sign that a lot of very smart and committed people are trying to answer the question. In December, the FDA issued a drug safety communication about anesthetics that sounded alarming, beginning with a warning that “repeated or lengthy use of general anesthetic and sedation drugs during surgeries or procedures in children younger than 3 years or in pregnant women during their third trimester may affect the development of children’s brains.” FDA recommended more conversations between parents and doctors, in the hopes of delaying surgeries that can safely wait, and the amount of anesthesia exposure in this potentially vulnerable population.

The trouble with that statement, though, is that it raises concerns without answering them, says pediatric anesthesiologist Dean Andropoulos of Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. And that concern might lead to worse outcomes for their youngest patients. “Until reassuring new information from well-designed clinical trials is available, we are concerned that the FDA…