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They were a 1960s counterculture phenomenon, and now they’re making a bid to become part of mainstream medicine. Research into the therapeutic potential of illegal "psychedelic" drugs to treat an assortment of mental health conditions is undergoing a modern-day renaissance. A host of published studies in the field is showing promise for psychedelics, such as psilocybin — the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms" — to help treat alcoholism, depression, drug addiction and severe anxiety caused by serious or terminal illness. Other studies are finding that MDMA, an ingredient in the party-drug "ecstasy," may be valuable in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But is using these drugs good health care policy? From the 1950s through the early 70s, extensive research was done on these drugs. But the excesses of the 60s, when many followed Timothy Leary’s advice to “turn on, tune in, drop out,” sparked a backlash that led the federal government to criminalize psychedelic drugs in 1970. On September 15, KPCC Health Care Correspondent Stephanie O’Neill explored the issues with scientists who believe psychedelics can be effective treatments.
Stephanie O'Neill: health care correspondent for KPCC/Southern California Public Radio
Charles Grob M.D.: chief of Child Psychiatry and professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine
David E. Nichols Ph.D: president, co-founder and director of Preclinical Research, Heffter Research Institute; emeritus professor of Pharmacology, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Purdue University
Stephen Ross M.D.: associate professor of Psychiatry and Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the NYU Langone Medical Center, director of the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse at Bellevue Hospital, clinical director of the NYU Langone Center of Excellence on Addiction, and director of the NYU Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship