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Drugs Are Bad - Unless They Are Good

Update Date: Jul 09, 2019 07:37 PM EDT

The brain, they say, is the only organ that named itself - and this is just one of the many odd and strange things about it that are hard to grasp. Even though it has been studied for ages, there are still so many things about our brain that we don't understand - but thanks to the hard work of researchers, we know more about it with every day that passes.

This tireless research gave us not only a better understanding of what goes on in our brain but the tools to influence the processes that take place there - through the introduction of various chemicals in our system. Some substances, in turn, that have well-documented effects on our brain have side effects that can be useful in a completely different context.

One of these is Naloxone, a medication that is used to block opioid overdoses. When applied topically, though, it reduces the urge to give in to addiction. This means that addicts of all types can simply carry around a nasal spray that can help with addiction and administer it whenever they need. But this is a minor positive effect compared to some others that researchers have discovered in the last few years.

One of the most obvious drugs with unexpected positive effects is cannabis. CBD, one of the alkaloids in the plant, has been shown to help in a series of conditions, ranging from chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting to anorexia, chronic pain, muscle spasms, and various neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis. Moreover, it has been shown to help reduce the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It may have been the change of attitude toward mind-altering substances that caused scientists to approach other psychoactive drugs with more bravery (it may as well have been a coincidence, we'll probably never know) but in the last few years, more substances that have previously been prosecuted have been recently proven to have positive effects.

One of them is MDMA, better known by its street name Ecstasy. The recreational drug commonly used at raves and parties is consumed for the increased feeling of energy, pleasure, and empathy it causes. Like all other designer drugs, Ecstasy also has a series of negative side effects, ranging from a rapid heartbeat to dehydration, paranoia, and addiction. MDMA is illegal in pretty much every country and has no known medical uses but it may soon earn its place in medicine cabinets: it is thought to help treat resistant cases of posttraumatic stress disorder. The drug is currently undergoing phase 3 clinical trials (randomized controlled multicenter trials on large patient groups).

Another compound that is being studied as potentially useful is psilocybin, the alkaloid found in the so-called "magic mushrooms" or "shrooms". It is a compound that causes a deeply personal, often spiritual "trip". While the usage and possession of psilocybin are illegal in most countries, drugs based on the alkaloid are on the track to be approved by the FDA (the United States' highest drug authority) as a treatment for depression. Studies have proven that psilocybin provides immediate and sustained treatment to depression following a single treatment. The clinical trials for the new psilocybin-based drug will commence soon. This means that the new drug can hit the shelves as early as 2 years from now.

Drugs are bad... but not all of the drugs, and not all the time. When used the right way, some drugs can indeed be good.

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