Drugs with psychedelic effects impact a wide range of cognitive processes through their actions on 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.

Between August 2023 and March 2024, POST is publishing a series of rapid evidence reviews about the use of psychedelic drugs to treat a range of disorders including:

They will be followed by a POSTnote that will summarise the headline research findings and outline the main policy issues, including 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.

Dr Stephen Naulls and Dr Sarah Bunn are leading this project. Please contact them via naullss@parliament.uk and bunns@parliament.uk if you would like to contribute to any of the research themes.

Photo by Ksenia Yakovleva on Unsplash

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