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Are psychedelics "narcotics"?

Pile of Pills

"Narcotics" are a legal term, not a medical or scientific one. This means that what is defined as narcotics changes in line with which substances the authorities believe citizens should be allowed to consume.

The term narcotics therefore includes all "illegal, intoxicating substances", often called "illegal drugs". In this sense, psychedelics are defined narcotics, along with most other substances the authorities believe the population should not have access to. 


Etymologically, the term derives from the Greek word "narkotikos", which means "numbing". Originally, the term was used for agents that can cause narcosis, or deep sleep, and in a medical context first about opium, which is definitely numbing.

The fact is, then, that there is no scientifically defined category of substances called "narcotics". Thus, in our opinion, it must be up to each individual how they wish to relate to the state's superintendence regarding the possibility of going out and picking psychedelic mushrooms, and then consuming them with the intention of increased self-awareness and wisdom.

One of the first major studies on psychedelics in modern times was conducted at Johns Hopkins University on a group of patients with life-threatening cancer. Two similar studies were conducted in 2011 and 2014 with 12 participants, so the aim here was to see if the results held up in a larger population (56 participants). All studies were double-blind and placebo-controlled. All participants had potentially life-threatening cancer diagnoses and marked symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. One group received a high dose of psilocybin, corresponding to 3.5 g of mushroom (P. Cubensis), and the placebo group received a low dose, corresponding to 0.25 g of mushroom. Before taking the medicine, they had an average of three preparatory meetings. There were two therapists present throughout the process and the room where the treatment took place was a "cozy" room with plants, pictures and a sofa where the participants had to lie. Following the medicine day, the participants had an average of six integration meetings, again with both therapists present.

The results were measured by asking both the participants themselves and other observers such as family, colleagues and friends. 62% reported that the high-dose experience was among the five most meaningful experiences they have had in their life, where experiences such as the birth of a child, death in close family, weddings and the like were on the list. 86% reported a moderate to high increase in quality of life, a figure that only decreased by 3.5% over six months. When measuring the reduction of symptoms for anxiety and depression, the results were 52-60% for the high-dose group compared to 12-16% for the placebo group.

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