Research into psychedelic therapy began as early as the 1950s, but is continuously hampered when such substances are ruled illegal and classified as having no medicinal value. Furthermore, the unpredictability of these substances, and a preference for conventional psychiatric medication has limited research. However, in 2017, it was found that over half of adults in the United States supported allowing researchers to study illegal psychedelic substances in medical trials, while only 21 percent outright opposed such research. Interestingly, support for this research was highest among younger adults, while those 55 years and older were more likely to oppose research into psychedelics.
In contrast to traditional psychiatric medication which is taken regularly, psychedelics to assist in psychotherapy are usually taken during the therapy session where the patient remains for an extended period to be supervised and guided by the therapist. Therapy sessions before and after the use of the drug are required to prepare for, and process, the experience. Conditions that could potentially be treated using psychedelic drugs include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, and even alcoholism.
As of 2017, almost half of adults in the U.S. supported a psychedelic substance being made legal for medical use in all or most cases. More specifically, around 56 percent of U.S. adults stated they would definitely or probably take MDMA if it was approved as a prescription drug and was a possible treatment for a medical condition they were suffering from. Although some research has shown that psychedelic therapy can be beneficial for some patients, there is still no consensus on the overall validity of this type of treatment or of the potential dangers. Research into the possible therapeutic benefits of psychedelics continues, but the labeling of drugs like LSD and psilocybin as “Schedule 1” controlled substances greatly limits potential research.