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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

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New Black Market Designer Drugs: Why Now?

2C-E and other illicit new drugs are a danger to users and a threat to psychedelic research, experts warn.

Why Do People Take Designer Drugs? continued...

By community integration, Goldsmith is deliberately advising against the third part of Timothy Leary's infamous "Turn on, tune in, drop out" slogan of the 1960s. Goldsmith says that people who gain insights through spiritual psychedelic experience have a responsibility to reconnect with their families and their society at a deeper, more connected level.

Goldsmith is quick to note that he does not advocate illegal use of psychedelic drugs, nor does he offer such drugs to his psychotherapy patients. He warns against use of these substances by people with a family history of mental illness.

"But I do use it myself," he says. "What I see when I look inside and what I try to help my clients see is that there is a deeper truth, a deeper self. ... The knots in our psychological muscle can be released, unfurled, softened through love and warmth and acceptance. This is what psychedelics have done for me and what I try to do for my clients."

While true psychedelics, taken at precisely the correct dose in a supportive environment, appear to have these effects in people who are mentally prepared, it is impossible to know whether illicitly obtained drug truly are what they claim to be. Even if people do get the drug they think they are buying, there's no way to know whether it was made safely or at the correct dose.

The effects that Goldsmith talks about, and the positive changes seen in participants in the Johns Hopkins psilocybin study, are far from the disastrous effects seen in the Minnesota and Oklahoma youths.

Ongoing research is on the brink of finding legitimate uses for psychedelic drugs such as easing the fear of death in patients with terminal disease, helping addicts recover, and treating posttraumatic stress disorder. These findings may reintegrate the psychedelic experience into our culture, as Goldsmith suggests.

Society's reaction to rampant illicit use of psychedelic drugs derailed research from the early 1970s until the mid 1990s. It remains to be seen whether the current surge in illicit designer drugs once again creates a backlash that makes legitimate research impossible.

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Reviewed on June 24, 2011

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