Are Psychedelics Safe?

Psychedelic drugs have recently entered the spotlight because of their potential effectiveness in treating certain mental health disorders. However, it is important to understand that the new research into psychedelics is taking place in clinical settings and under the supervision of therapists and medical professionals. Psychedelics encompass a broad range of different psychoactive substances. Some are relatively safe, but others can be incredibly dangerous and should never be taken recreationally.
The question of safety often comes down to the physical side effects of psychedelic drugs but may not take into account the potentially damaging mental health effects. The risks of psychedelics are mostly psychological, but some do carry potentially dangerous physical side effects as well. There is also the vast amount of different substances that fall under the umbrella term of “psychedelics”, which can include everything from the relatively safe psilocybin to the much more dangerous drug ketamine.
One of the greatest dangers of psychedelics comes from “imposter drugs”. Imposter drugs refer to a wide variety of substances that are sold or marketed as something else. For example, Bromo-Dragonfly, a potent synthetic hallucinogen responsible to many overdoses, may be sold as LSD. According to The Psychedelic Times, “this is an increasingly prevalent issue, as unscrupulous street dealers have been known to try to follow trends by marketing their product under a popular name while mixing in cheaper chemicals that offer a better ‘bang for their buck’ compared to psychedelics in their pure form.” In chemical analyses of street drugs sold as MDMA, researchers often find that the substance is actually methamphetamine.
Psilocybin, known as “magic mushrooms”, are generally thought to be one of the safer psychedelic drugs. However, the substance is still capable of triggering psychotic episodes and, according to Medical News Today, “Individuals with a family history of schizophrenia or early onset mental illness face an increased risk of an adverse psychiatric reaction to psilocybin.” This risk is greatly increased when a person is taking much strong psychedelic drugs such as LSD or DMT. Psychedelics may have potential in treating certain mental health disorders in clinical settings, but could be highly damaging to one’s mental health when taken recreationally.

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