Abstract: Research in the last decade has expressed considerable optimism about the clinical potential of psychedelics for the treatment of mental disorders. This optimism is reflected in an increase in research papers, investments by pharmaceutical companies, patents, media coverage, as well as political and legislative changes. However, psychedelic science is facing serious challenges that threaten the validity of core findings and raise doubt regarding clinical efficacy and safety. In this paper, we introduce the 10 most pressing challenges, grouped into easy, moderate, and hard problems. We show how these problems threaten internal validity (treatment effects are due to factors unrelated to the treatment), external validity (lack of generalizability), construct validity (unclear working mechanism) or statistical conclusion validity (conclusions do not follow from the data and methods). These problems tend to co-occur in psychedelic studies, limiting conclusions that can be drawn about the safety and efficacy of psychedelic therapy. We provide a roadmap for tackling these challenges and share a checklist that researchers, journalists, funders, policy makers, and other stakeholders can use to assess the quality of psychedelic science. Addressing today’s problems is necessary to find out whether the optimism regarding the therapeutic potential of psychedelics has been warranted and to avoid history repeating itself.
Preserving Resilience: Tackling Substance Misuse and Empowering Communities
As we observe World Drug Day in 2023, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of prevention and dispelling the stigma surrounding substance misuse. This year's campaign theme, "Strengthen Prevention & Stop Stigma," highlights the need to prioritize resilience development and recognize the harmful effects of alcohol and drug (AOD) consumption on it. By placing prevention efforts at the forefront and dispelling societal misconceptions about addiction, we can foster a healthier and stronger society. This article explores the profound significance of fortifying resilience and how AOD usage hinders this critical attribute.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back, adapt, and thrive in the face of adversity. It is an essential characteristic that empowers individuals, families, and communities to overcome challenges and lead fulfilling lives. Resilient individuals possess the strength and skills necessary to navigate difficulties, resist negative influences, and make positive choices. By cultivating resilience, we equip ourselves and future generations with the tools needed to combat the allure and dangers of AOD consumption.
The Undermining Effects of AOD Usage on Resilience:
Mental and Emotional Wellbeing:
AOD consumption often begins as a coping mechanism but ultimately worsens mental health issues and emotional instability. Substance misuse can contribute to anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders, making it harder to cope with life's challenges. Relying on substances to numb emotional pain or avoid reality hinders the development of healthy coping mechanisms and stifles resilience.
Substance misuse impairs judgment and decision-making, leading individuals to engage in risky behaviours and make poor choices. This impairs resilience by limiting one's ability to effectively navigate challenges. Abstaining from AOD usage maintains mental clarity, enabling individuals to make informed decisions and enhance problem-solving skills.
Weakening Support Systems:
Addiction strains relationships and weakens the support systems crucial for resilience. Substance misuse can result in social isolation, strained family dynamics, and damaged friendships. Cultivating resilience requires a strong network of supportive relationships. However, AOD consumption often erodes these connections, leaving individuals vulnerable and lacking the necessary support to face life's difficulties.
Physical Health and Wellbeing:
AOD usage takes a toll on physical wellbeing, compromising the body's resilience. Substance misuse can lead to chronic health conditions, weakened immune function, and overall deterioration of wellbeing. Maintaining physical health is a crucial aspect of resilience as it provides individuals with the energy and vitality needed to overcome challenges and persevere in the face of adversity.
Building Resilience to Prevent AOD Usage:
Education and Awareness:
Preventive efforts should focus on educating individuals, especially the younger generation, about the hazards and consequences of AOD consumption. By promoting awareness and providing accurate information, we empower individuals to make informed decisions and resist the temptation of substance misuse. Education should also include teaching healthy coping mechanisms, stress management techniques, and promoting positive mental health practices.
Reinforcing Support Systems:
Communities must prioritize the establishment of supportive environments that nurture resilience. This involves promoting strong family bonds, fostering positive peer relationships, and ensuring access to mental health resources. By strengthening support systems, we create a framework that enhances individuals' ability to overcome challenges and resist the allure of AOD consumption.
Encouraging Positive Coping Mechanisms:
Promoting healthy coping mechanisms is crucial for cultivating resilience. Encouraging individuals to engage in activities such as exercise, creative outlets, mindfulness practices, and seeking support from trusted confidants empowers them to manage stress and regulate emotions effectively. By offering alternative avenues for coping with stress and emotions, individuals gain the ability to navigate life's adversities and preserve their resilience.
Written by Shaun Tucker – Brand Ambassador for the Dalgarno Institute
About the author:
Shaun Tucker is the Founder and CEO of Healthy CEOs, an organization dedicated to supporting executives in reducing stress, managing burnout symptoms, and achieving a better work-life balance. They prioritize the well-being of top-level leaders by offering resources, strategies, and guidance tailored to their unique needs. Healthy CEOs recognizes the demanding nature of executive roles and the toll it can take on physical and mental health. Through coaching, workshops, and wellness programs, they empower CEOs to prioritize self-care, make informed decisions, and cultivate a healthier lifestyle. By addressing the specific challenges faced by executives, Healthy CEOs aims to enhance their overall well-being and promote sustainable success.
World Drug Day 2023 #WWD2023 “People First: Promoting Prevention – Preventing Stigma.”
This World Drug Day, 26th June 2023, let’s focus our attention on delaying and denying uptake of substances for our most vulnerable and their communities, and work toward reducing stigma of those seeking to exit drug use to a healthier, safer, and more promising future. #preventdontpromote #RecoveryPosse
Why Calls for Decriminalizing Drug Use, is Really Not a Care-full Agenda!
Anti-drug laws were always meant to be a vehicle to protect Community, family and our most important asset, children, from the harms caused by permission models that ‘grown ups’ believe they have the right to exercise around the use of psychotropic toxins.
These protective laws have not been used in any real punitive context for years.
It’s time we tasked these protective laws again in their most proactive framework – As the ‘Judicial Educator’.
The law used (not in a punitive context) but as with Problem Solving Courts, to facilitate not only exit from drug use, but entrance into productive, safe, health and community benefiting narratives, that are drug free. You don’t have to change laws, but you can task that legislation to facilitate rehabilitation and recovery, as is being done more and more to great success.
The pro-drug lobbies completely fallacious meme of ‘war on drugs has failed’ only has traction for the uniformed. There has been now ‘war on drugs’ in this nation since 1985. However, the ever growing ‘war FOR drugs’ continues to look to remove genuine tools that can bring best-practice drug use exiting outcomes, by mislabelling and propagandizing.
The Judicial educator is the perfect bookend for the other bookend of health and education. Together these will see, not further ‘permission’ for drug use and the ensuing uptake that always precipitates, but rather, as with Tobacco, a community with One Voice, Once Message and One Focus – the cessation of humanity, dignity, agency and family devastating drug use. That should be the agenda of all drug use reduction vehicles. The excising of any vehicle that can assist with that proactive and productive end, is not only non-sense, it is only adding to the harms that drug use does to our communities.
Once psychotropic toxins are an intrenched part of the behavioural mechanisms of an individual, whether it be short-term intoxication, or long-term dependency, the risk to health, safety and well-being of that individual and more concerningly, those around them requires more than a ‘doctor’ for change. Secure welfare engaged for rehabilitation continues to prove the safest and healthiest vehicle to assist that change.
We seem to care more for Tobacco users, than illicit drug users – Don’t the latter deserve the same passionate enabling to exit drug use, with no voice of permission or approval in the marketplace?
Rather there must be a thorough enabling, equipping and empowering of drug users to exit drug use, even more importantly before the inevitable dependency takes hold.
Any permission model – decriminalisation, legalisation or depenalization – does not add to that capacity of drug users to move out of drug use. However, it has and will continue to do so, if the only proactively coercive vehicle – The Law – is removed, further normalizing drug use.
CHASING AFTER THE WIND! (Must have book!)
In a brutally honest account Kerryn Redpath describes the terrifying scenes she witnessed as what began as "a bit of fun" spiralled into a shocking journey through the dark world of drug addiction. Chilling stories of drug overdoses, precious lives lost, drug and alcohol fuelled fights, months spent gravely ill in hospital, at one point being given less than two hours to live, will have the reader gripped to every page….This is a compelling story that takes the reader through one person’s journey from the depths of despair to the realms of hope and is hard to put down until the final page is read.
“This is a story that should be read by all - young and old, parents, teenagers and current or past addicts of all persuasions.” - Associate Professor Peter Ryan
There's No Way of Saying No
Without Getting Bagged Out!
Is it possible is say 'no' to alcohol in this binge culture? Can the booze bully culture be slowed? 'Not really' is often the timid whimper of the peer pressured soul who is trying to 'fit in'. Out of this so called 'intimidating and seductive' cultural norm came the mantra 'kids will always drink, they experiment, cant stop it.' Now we know that is a well held and until recently strongly reinforced 'MYTH' in the halls of drug policy. However, we've known for decades, that it is not only possilbe, but actually pretty easy to say 'no thanks' and walk away. We also know that there is a couple of key things you need in place to help you do that. Any idea what they might be? Hmmmm... you're clever, you'll figure it out...just a hint, it's got more to do with your family, values and moral compass than you think
Anyway, Somazone did a recent survey to check to see if the 'just say no' response had any cred... turns out it did! Who knew?! Well we did, but its not polite to 'i told you so', so we we won't say it... 'I told you so' that is.
Sometimes we tell them to “just say no”. But does that work? What do young people say, and is it effective? We ran a poll* on our youth website, Somazone, to ask just that: If you’ve ever said no to an offer of alcohol, what kind of line has worked best?
Booze and teenagers
(Prof John Toumbourou puts the Myths to Bed)
Assumption One: 'It's hypocritical to not let my drink when you were drinking at my age!'
We are a lot better educated these days about he dangers of drinking, just like cigarettes smoking and not wearing seat-belts. We know all those things now are really risky and we wouldn't encourage them. So we're not being hypocritical, it's just that we're better informed.
Assumption Two: 'Kids mature physcially and mentally at different ages, so some are ready to handle alcohol at 16.'
Based on the matuity argument, the legal drinking age should be lifted to 21 because the brain develops into young adulthood. The brain isn't really ready for alcohol at 18...rules are rules and some of those rules are set by age.
Assumption Three: 'Alcohol is safe for kids ages 16+ when drunk in moderation.'
"INCORRECT! Recent Victorian studes show many 16-17 year olds who drink in moderation devleop alcohol problems in thier early 20's. Other research showe young drinkers are more vulnerable to the changes in brain structure caused by alcohol. These changes increase tolerance for alcohol, leading to increased intake and greater desire to drink in later life. They often develop a greater thirst for alcohol when they become adapted to it, but it's having a much greater destructive effect than it does on adults. The young person's brain is still developing and it's vulnerable to poisons."
Assumption Four: 'Parents will know what and how much their teenager is drinking if they supply the alcohol.'
"Teens given alcohol by parents are more likely to use theise drinks to kick off a binge. Young people tell us they drink the alcohol thier parents supply and then they drink other alcohol outside the parent's watch because the goal of drinking at that age isn't to drink moderately, it's to become intoxicated. Parents who refuse to supply alcohol have more succes in curbing thier child's drinking...So where parents set a hardline and refuse to supply alcohol, often the children rebel by drinking once or twice behond their back. With the partnes who allow alcohol the child has to come home absolutely smashed in order to rebel."
Assumption Five: 'Drinking helps you fit in, is fun and gives you more confidence.'
"Kids don't need alcohol to have a good time and fit in, despite impressions created by alcohol marketing. Kds who don't drink perform better at school and develop stronger social and emotional skills, whole those who drink become more dependent on alcohol for their enjoyment. Oftne when they reach their 20's they're absolutely dependent on alcoho to have any fun. That's why alcohol dependence is so high at the moment in young adults. Bluff and bravado around drinking gives teens the impression all their peers are doing it. But in reality more health-conscious kids in early secondary school are choosing not to drink and are relieved when their parents set a 'no alcohol' rule.'
(Hearlad Sun, Monday March 5th 2012)