Drugs: Potential and Potential Pitfalls
“There is a wealth of information built into us ... tucked away in the genetic material in every one of our cells ... without some means of access, there is no way even to begin to guess at the extent and quality of what is there. The psychedelic drugs allow exploration of this interior world, and insights into its nature.”
Reports of drug use date back thousands of years and humankind has been using them for spiritual and religious purposes, for healing and for recreation. Prehistoric drug use included hallucinogens, opium, and coca leaves. However, the war on drugs and recent legal developments around use and abuse lets us forget how to utilize the ancestral knowledge on benefits and harm reduction around the use of psychoactive substances. After failed attempts at research into psychedelic substances during their golden age carried by a romantic counterculture during the 60s, a new scientific forum is currently rebooting the study of potential therapeutic mechanisms of various psychotropic drugs.
We want to take a “trip” through the cultural history of drugs and explore how various substances are now commonly used in modern society while others are condemned to be banned from legal use, both recreational and for research purposes. What is substance addiction in that context and why are there differences in the addictive potentials of various drugs?
What is the current standing on research into psychedelics? We want to look at the neurobiological as well as psychological mechanisms of action and how the future might bring drug-assisted therapy into the game of disorders such as depression or PTSD. In light of this, it is essential to open the dialogue between supporters and opponents of a psychedelic revolution, as contemplations about the misuse of drugs and harmful effects are of importance to the secure introduction of psychedelic substances into society.
About the lecturers:
Annika Rosenthal, Neuroscientist, PhD candidate at Charité University Medicine.
Lea Mascarell Maricic Medical Doctor, PhD candidate at Charité University Medicine and Medical Faculty, University of Belgrade.