[Rushtalk] Study Concludes Alcohol is More Harmful to Mental Health Than Psychedelics

Carl Spitzer cwsiv at juno.com
Tue Dec 13 10:10:54 MST 2016

Study Concludes Alcohol is More Harmful to Mental Health Than

Alexa Erickson November 29, 2016

Around the world, alcohol is often seen as an acceptable beverage in
moderation, and even accepted in excess. And while it’s a drug, it’s
typically not referred to as such, since “drugs” seem to fall into a
taboo category that have caused many of them to be outlawed altogether.
But why do we put alcohol on a pedestal and others, like psychedelics,
in such a dark place?

A 2014 Vice article titled Why Are Psychedelics Illegal? by Tao Lin put
this interesting dichotomy into perspective by pointing out why
psychedelics are illegal:
        “Terence McKenna viewed cannabis, psilocybin, DMT, LSD, and
        other psychedelics as ‘catalysts of intellectual dissent.’ He
        wrote in The Archaic Revival (1991) that his assumption about
        psychedelics had always been that they were illegal ‘not because
        it troubles anyone that you have visions’ but because ‘there is
        something about them that casts doubts on the validity of
        reality.’ This makes it difficult, McKenna observed, for
        societies—even democratic and especially ‘dominator’ societies—
        to accept them, and we happen to live in a global ‘dominator’

And another article, NY Mag called The Truth About Psychedelic Drugs and
Mental Illness by Jesse Singal said:

        “Psychedelic drugs are confusing, and it’s easy to get very
        different views about them depending on whom you ask. On the one
        hand, enthusiasts — not to mention a small body of scientific
        research — have long claimed that, when taken responsibly and
        with the proper supervision, so-called classical psychedelics
        like LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic
        mushrooms) are a safe way to smooth the path toward tranquility
        and spiritual enlightenment. On the other hand, ever since the
        cultural spasms of the 1960s and a subsequent government
        crackdown on these substances, the archetype of the hallucinogen
        burnout has loomed large in the public imagination; that is,
        people who try LSD or ‘shrooms’ — sometimes even just once! —
        are forever ruined by flashbacks and other symptoms that
        eventually drive them to a state of full-blown psychosis.”

To put it simply, one could argue that alcohol has less horror stories
that have made their way into public history than that of psychedelics,
which has created fear and a generalized taboo that keeps many
governments from taking into consideration scientific research that
would suggest otherwise. And though alcohol is, without question, many
countries’ biggest and most deadly recreational drugs, it’s the most
legal, and the most addictive. But too many people drink and the alcohol
industry is far too powerful for this drug to ever be considered as
dangerous as psychedelics.

For a while now, researchers have worked to debunk the theory that
psychedelics are harmful when used correctly, and have actually found
through their experiments that such drugs can even treat anxiety and
depression, as opposed to provoking such mental illnesses.
Now, a study by the Research Council of Norway has discovered that
psychedelics don’t cause mental health problems or suicidal behaviour at
all. The researchers looked at about 130,000 adult citizens in the
United States and found no “evidence that psychedelic use is an
independent risk factor for mental health problems.”
 Furthermore, 19,299 of the randomly selected people had used either
lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin or mescalin, but no links
were revealed that “increased likelihood of past year serious
psychological distress, mental health treatment, suicidal thoughts,
suicidal plans and suicide attempt, depression and anxiety.”

The findings triggered the concluding statement that “it is difficult to
see how prohibition of psychedelics can be justified as a public health

Meanwhile, there is a direct link between alcohol abuse and suicide,
with the U.S. National Library of Medicine stating: “Alcohol abuse may
lead to suicidality through disinhibition, impulsiveness and impaired
judgment, but it may also be used as a means to ease the distress
associated with committing an act of suicide.”

So if classical psychedelics are in fact safe, why do we continue to
live in fear? Why are they still illegal despite such scientific
findings? And how is it possible that alcohol can be legal but drugs
that can improve quality of life are not? Media coverage may have a lot
to do with it, as they hype up certain fears, most specifically, fears
that are culturally resonant.

But there are also big differences between alcohol and psychedelics that
people hold on to. “Psychedelics are psychologically intense, and many
people will blame anything that happens for the rest of their lives on a
psychedelic experience,” explained clinical psychologist Teri Suzanne.


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