5 Street Drugs Your Doctor Might Prescribe You Someday
Drugs make certain movies more tolerable, dramatically improve your dance moves (or at least how confident you are in them), and you know what? We're just gonna say it: They make you cooler. But they can also form dangerous dependencies, destroy families, and ruin lives. Also, if you've ever woken up to find one of your car windows broken and a mystery poop in the glove box, that was probably drugs. So drugs are bad, and ... oh wait. It seems the rest of this article says that drugs are good.
Well then ...
What Kicks Opioid Addiction Better Than Methadone? Actual Heroin
Opioid addiction is nothing to joke about. It's one of the greatest health crises facing America today, and is responsible for thousands of deaths each year. Anything that might delay its grim march has to be seriously considered. Anything.
Including giving people straight-up heroin.
The idea behind most forms of drug treatment is to slowly wean addicts off of their dependence. Because it's done in a controlled setting, you reduce the risk of accidental overdose and the toxic effects from tainted drugs. Though it isn't always practical or advisable to wean addicts off of their drug of choice using the exact same substance. For example, with people addicted to opiates and opioids, we usually use methadone, but that treatment has a number of limitations. In fact, recent research has suggested that, at least when compared to methadone, heroin-assisted treatment (HAT) methods may have better results. (In related news, we now have a new favorite inappropriate acronym. Step aside, Pederasts Under Punitive Prosecution for Youth-Crimes.)
In one study, researchers found that opioid addicts treated with heroin improved in both health and social stabilization, reducing their drug use at levels superior to similar methadone treatment programs. Even more interestingly, after four weeks, there were no detectable intoxication effects -- subjects could have potentially been able to drive after dosing up. Nobody wanted to be the first to hand them the keys to the school bus or anything, but still, that's theoretically impressive.
Heroin-assisted treatment is already a thing in some parts of the world. In both England and Switzerland, doctors can dispense small amounts of heroin to patients if they haven't been successful with methadone programs. The main barrier to implementing this program everywhere is really nothing but mindset. We'd have to stop considering addiction a moral failing, stop applying any kind of inherent morality to the drugs themselves, and start treating it like a health issue.
So, uh, have fun with methadone forever, Americans.
A Safe, Simple, Reliable Painkiller For Use While Giving Birth? Ketamine
You know what hurts? Words. There are some things you just can't take back.
Oh wait, you know what hurts worse? Giving birth.
Sure, there are breathing techniques, mental focusing tricks, and good old-fashioned yelling to try to cope with the pain, but those don't work for everyone. And in those cases, pain relief drugs aren't merely useful; they are the business.
Now, obviously, whatever drug you use can't pose any threat to the baby's health. And the mother needs to stay lucid and responsive to ensure labor proceeds normally. Those two conditions rule out a whole bunch of drugs, including just about anything served in a tumbler with ice. There are more advanced procedures, like epidurals, but those require highly specialized doctors to insert a needle into the spine while their patient thrashes about and screams a hole through time itself.
So basically, epidurals aren't an option in developing countries. And that's where ketamine comes in. That's right, ketamine! Good ol' Special K, the '90s club drug famously sourced from horse tranquilizers. Ketamine was in fact meant to be human surgical anesthesia all along -- it was used extensively during the Vietnam War for anesthetizing wounded soldiers. It was effective, safe, and relatively easy to use, which also makes it super useful during labor in developing countries. Studies have shown that ketamine provides significant, measurable pain relief to women in labor, with no adverse effects to the baby or mother.
MDMA Helps Traumatized Patients Cope With PTSD
MDMA is the drug of choice for anybody who likes dancing for eight straight hours. Bobbleheads, wacky waving inflatable arm guys, all those guys? Serious, crippling MDMA addictions. Just sad.
But the very things that make MDMA appealing to neon werewolves may also make it useful in therapeutic settings. MDMA makes its users feel safe and content. Which, yes, leads to you unwisely hugging guys named PentaGraham in a dank warehouse, but it could also help a patient open up to their therapist. This is particularly useful for treating patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), some of whom aren't able to discuss the traumas that are still killing them.
Study after study on MDMA-assisted therapy has shown positive effects, and it doesn't lead to dependencies on the drug. In fact, MDMA was studied for this exact purpose in the U.S. way back in the 1970s, well before the drug was made illegal and the glow sticks kicked in.
Legal pressures on the drug are slowly easing up, though. The FDA has recently allowed it to be studied in well-defined trials. The only downside being their cost. Because the point isn't to take MDMA forever and ever and dance your problems away, drug companies aren't that keen to finance the therapy.
So if any of you has several million dollars and a closet full of finger-painted JNCOs, have we got an investment opportunity for you ...
Psilocybin Helps The Terminally Ill Cope With Their Fate
Magic mushrooms do not actually grant their users magical abilities. They mainly help you be weird in the woods with friends. But recently, researchers have come up with another, possibly more useful purpose for them: treating people with depression.
The active ingredient in magic mushrooms is psilocybin, which can reset some of the neural pathways in the brain linked with depression. Subjects in a study on treating depression with psilocybin reported feeling "reset" or "rebooted" after taking the drug, while MRIs revealed reduced blood flow in the areas of the brain thought to be responsible for fear and stress. The effects seemed to last, too -- researchers saw continuing benefits up to five weeks after treatment.
That on its own is worth pursuing, but psilocybin can also help cancer patients or others in palliative care. It should not surprise you to learn that people who know they're going to die don't always feel too great about that, and can potentially spend their last days in a cloud of depression. Using psilocybin not only helps these patients come to terms with what's happening to them, but also gives them the mental clarity to bond with their loved ones, finish their bucket lists, or possibly just execute that flawless revenge they've been meaning to get around to. Here's a story about a woman diagnosed with colon cancer and given mere months to live who came out of the ensuing depression, repaired her relationships, and hiked the Grand Canyon for a spell before ultimately dying at home, surrounded by loved ones. And all thanks to the same thing you and your stoner friends use to pretend to be Gummi Bears down at the KOA.
Want A Better Depression Treatment? Try LSD
LSD used to be legal back in the bad old days, when people went around lickin' stuff for fun and profit. See, back in the '50s and '60s, researchers were beginning to uncover LSD's potential for treating depression and addiction, so it seemed like a useful thing. Then the great drug crackdown came, and LSD was relegated to stoners who were bad at finding mushrooms.
The old research was never completely shut down, though. It's just that after LSD became illegal, any scientist wanting to work with it had to jump through endless hoops to do so. So what should have taken years instead took decades, but it still got done. One study used MRIs to scan people who were scientifically tripping balls and found that while LSD was inhibiting synapses in certain parts of the brain, it was also causing connectivity between other areas that don't normally talk to each other.
Another recent study supported this, suggesting that LSD induces a sort of "mental looseness" -- an ability to make connections that the human mind normally doesn't. Subjects also reported a heightened sense of curiosity and psychological well-being. Taken to an extreme, this kind of "mental loosening" could lead to psychosis, but with mild doses, that doesn't appear to be a risk. Two weeks after dosing, subjects showed no particular signs of delusion.
Given the potential benefits and controllable (usually wholly absent) side effects, this feels like research well worth pursuing. Let's have more therapeutic methods that involve licking.
Oh, they inject it intravenously now? What a waste.