The society hopes to promote positive research into psychedelic drugs.
Illegal hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD, magic mushrooms and DMT have become increasingly researched amongst the scientific community in the past decade. Government grants have been issued in the UK to study such compounds, in hope to ease the mental health burden in the UK. Traditional pharmaceutical antidepressants, such as SSRI’s, fail to work for up to half of individuals. For the individuals who do respond, various side effects are common. With antidepressant medications seeing a 48% increase in the past decade in Scotland, the need for innovative treatments is paramount.
Dr Adrian James from The Royal College of Psychiatrists has recently stated that coronavirus will worsen the UK’s mental health problems: “It is probably the biggest hit to mental health since the second world war.” Neuroscience students at the University of Glasgow have launched a Psychedelic Society to raise awareness about the potential for psychedelics to treat various mental health conditions such as depression, PTSD, anorexia, and addiction.
The Psychedelic Society are inspired by previous acts of social change that have occurred at the University of Glasgow. The University’s Climate Action Society contributed to the University’s plan of divestment from fossil fuels in 2013, with full divestment estimated to occur by 2024. Students at the University of Glasgow Psychedelic Society are hopeful that the University will also see the urgency to study psychedelic medicine and hope that they can make social change through providing students and staff with general education surrounding the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, in addition to the scheduling status of these substances.
Psychedelics are Schedule 1 controlled substances, which not only makes them illegal but makes scientific research extremely difficult. The University of Glasgow’s Psychedelic Society is hopeful that they can make changes to the current scheduling which would make research easier and help those who are in desperate need. With ecological scientists such as Dr Sam Gandy showing that psychedelics can also increase nature-relatedness – which could, in turn, increase positive environmental behaviour – psychedelics offer hope for the current climate crisis.
The society is inspired by political scientist Erica Chenoweth from Harvard University, who found that past historical acts of change occur when around 3.5% of the population are in active participation. The society is hopeful that others will engage to help lower the scheduling of psychedelics, which could help research and ultimately save the lives of those who have not benefited from other mental health treatments.
Professor Davit Nutt, a former advisory committee of the misuse of drugs was famously sacked for stating that ecstasy and LSD are less harmful than drugs such as alcohol, has been invited to talk as part of the society’s psychedelic science event. Professor David Nutt, who is now chair of Drug Science and deputy head of the Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research, is also hopeful that psychedelics could help those suffering from mental health illness, which has been proven from clinical trials. Professor Nutt stated: “The results were quite remarkable, possibly the most powerful single-intervention impact in depression there’s ever been, half participants were depression-free at one week and about a third were depression-free at three months.”
Psychedelic Research Centers are launching around the world, and UK leading institutions such as Imperial College London, have a dedicated Centre for Psychedelic Research and have made a significant contribution to psychedelic science and mental health in recent years. Students at the University of Glasgow’s Psychedelic Society are hopeful that Scotland’s universities will follow, to pave the way for the healing potential of psychedelics.