Video about using psychedelic drugs to treat anxiety, addiction, and OCD


Originally published at:


I’m tripping right now. Whoa.


Huh. Maybe that’s what actually happened in Lucy. The effects of the drug were stated accurately — they promoted “usage of 100% of the brain” — but the overall effect was to cause effects similar to LSD, and the rest of the movie is a hall-Lucy-nation.


Placebo LSD. Heh.

Obligatory xkcd


If you are studying people who have never taken LSD, and you give half of them sugar pills and tell them it’s LSD, I bet you’ll hear some "Whoa!"s from the crowd.


We can thank (among many others, granted) David Nutt, UK’s former public health czar, who was pressured to step down after endorsing just this sort of research. He’s never stepped back from this position, even at the cost of his job. Researchers from the UK and the Netherlands, emboldened by Nutt, have since conducted larger, more rigorous studies. UK health officials and clinicians have taken notice.


David Nutt on this topic:


I sat in on a meeting of psychology faculty and their respective grad students in which they discussed possible future studies, one of which would require a Schedule I clearance for a couple grams of cocaine. I swear I saw one of the faculty clutch his head with both hands as soon as ‘Schedule I’ was uttered. The red tape is that thick.


There’s also the point that these sorts of studies tend to use very low doses of the active drugs. Think “a little bit slaced out” rather than “trippin’ balls”.

This is mostly just due to the squeamishness of the university management [1], but the reduced subjective obviousness of the placebo is a useful side effect.

[1] Getting a research proposal for a human psychedelic study past an ethics board these days is an absolute nightmare.


Snap. :slight_smile:

BTW, while we’re at it, here’s one of my old mass-media publications:


I’m five paragraphs in and already I know that you and I could geek the hell out over neuropharmacology to the point of boring everyone else in this thread silly.

ETA: I don’t know how such tight, engaging writing skills have survived being wrung through a PhD program but whatever you’re doing, keep that up.


That Venn diagram:. How can a substance be both a stimulant and a depressant?


I don’t like this diagram. One, it imposes functional classification rather than pharmacodynamic. Two (following from one) the second and third-generation antipsychotics act as antagonists at certain serotonin and dopamine receptors and partial agonists at others (usually D2 and 5HT-1A)—a much more complicated pharmacodynamic profile than the old-school APs.

On top of that, you have meds like mirtazapine (and its prototype, mianserin) that have a very similar profile as the AAPs but—and this is a critical difference—they do not act as antagonists or partial agonists at dopamine receptors. They don’t even touch the dopaminergic pathways. Functionally, they’re classified as antidepressants (mirtazapine is, anyway; mianserin is used only in research, at least in the U.S.).

Case in point: aripiprazole was initially approved by the FDA for treating schizophrenia and only later approved as an adjunct medication for depression. Thus, its functional classification is either third-gen AP or adjunct antidepressant or both depending on indications for its use for a particular patient.

  1. I didn’t choose the illustrations, the website editor did.

  2. There are some drugs that can flip between stimulant and depressant depending on dosage. Once they saturate their primary affinity site, they start binding to secondary receptors, which may have strongly antagonistic effects.

Sodium pentobarbital is an example; a little bit gets you stoned and sleepy, a lot will kill you, but there’s a narrow band in between where it goes stimulant and psychedelic. Not recommended for recreational use, BTW (it’s most commonly used as a euthanasia drug by vets).

There are also things that are psychological stimulants but physical depressants etc.


While I appreciate the reply, I don’t think I’m going to be able to understand that without significant word substitution.

Please do not feel obligated to rewrite your post due to my ignorance; I’m just saying I’m not conversant in the technical terms of pharmacology, so, while I’m not ignoring your response, I cannot respond meaningfully to it.


Hmm. Sounds like a candidate topic for the ELI5 thread!

But you’re right. The framework for understanding that post is considerable. I wrote a primer on neuropharmacology a while back, I’ll see if I can dig that up and edit it for clarity.


Thanks! That’ll do for an answer.

Sucks that you didn’t get to pick your own images, though.


We are witnessing a renaissance in psychedelic psychotherapy although many feel it just went underground for a while. Rick Doblin fouder of MAPS,, will be delivering the keynote address for the 3rd annual Psychedelic Psychotherapy Forum in Victoria BC, Oct 14-15. Training psychedelic psychotherapists, mounting a legal challenge to existing laws that ban entheogens, using ayahuasca to treat eating disorders, all this and much more will be brought to the table…plus, it’s a great party!


Yet morphine, one of the most addictive substances known to man and vastly more harmful than LSD, is dispensed like candy in hospitals. The Controlled Substances Act and its subsequent War on Drugs legislation is pure politics, motivated by racism, classicism and preying on willful ignorance, without medical or scientific merit.


But sourcing psychedelics creates anxiety!