Drugs with psychedelic effects impact a wide range of cognitive processes through their actions on specific proteins in the brain. The use of these drugs to treat mental health conditions was explored in psychiatry in the 1950s and 1960s. Recent research is exploring their effects on a wide range of mental health conditions. Research to date shows that they can offer benefits in treating depression, anxiety, substance dependence, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anorexia nervosa, and as an adjunct to psychological treatments. The drugs can also be used to explore brain function, particularly processes underlying consciousness.

This note will outline the latest knowledge about the role for psychedelic drugs to treat a wide range of mental health disorders and the recent data on risks and benefits. It will explore how the national legislative framework on controlled drugs impacts researchers’ ability to carry out studies, with reference to international legislative approaches. It will also explore public attitudes to using these drugs therapeutically.

The timetable for this project will be announced later in the spring.

Photo by Ksenia Yakovleva on Unsplash

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