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Clinical Applications

According to the UK Mental Health Foundation, mental health problems are a growing global public health concern. Mental health and behavioural problems (e.g. depression, anxiety, addiction) are among the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide, and are reported to be the primary drivers of disability worldwide, causing over 40 million years of disability in 20 to 29-year-olds. It is estimated that 1 in 4 people in England will experience a mental health problem in any given year.

Several of the Beckley Scientific Programme’s collaborations are clinical trials, testing whether currently-controlled substances (such as cannabis, LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA) are effective in treating various health conditions, especially mental health. This may be counter-intuitive, since under the current regime these substances are classified as having ‘no medical use,’ and many of the substances are associated with increased health risks. However, use patterns and settings are different between therapeutic and recreational circumstances, and many of the health risks are consequences of prohibition rather than of the substances themselves

There is an urgent need to develop new treatments for mankind’s most intractable illnesses, and the re-emergence of decades-old clinical trials on psychedelics and MDMA, together with new brain imaging evidence (e.g. from the Beckley / Imperial Research Programme, the Beckley / Sant Pau Research Programme, and our collaboration with Val Curran at University College London), point to the considerable clinical potential of these long-banned substances. Theories of psychological and physiological mechanisms behind their clinical success include that the high degree of personal meaning attributed the experience might increase self-efficacy, and the recently formulated ‘Entropic Brain Theory.’

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