There’s a crisis brewing in the mental health world. Suicide rates climbed by 35.2% in the United States between 2000 and 2018, and suicide is now the second leading cause of death for Americans 10 to 34 years old. Drug and alcohol abuse alone led to the deaths of around one million Americans since 2000. Antidepressants, stimulants, mood stabilizers, and other pharmaceuticals are frequently diagnosed as remedies — yet depression, anxiety, addiction, and PTSD diagnoses are out of control.
Now, desperate for new tools to fight a growing mental health crisis, psychiatry has turned to psychedelic drugs. But are psychedelics actually the answer or just another “miracle drug?“
Perhaps surprisingly, author Michael Pollan — who is typically known for his food and botany writing — has spent years scrutinizing this very topic. From “The Botany of Desire” to “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” the New York Times best-selling author has often explored the relationships between humanity and the natural world.
Now, Pollan has said his piece on food, and he is off in another dimension with psychedelics, having recently co-founded the UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics and published another take on psychedelics with “This Is Your Mind on Plants.” An expansion of his 2015 New Yorker article, “The Trip Treatment,” Pollan’s 2018 book, “How to Change Your Mind,” arguably catalyzed the unlikely return of psychedelics to mainstream discourse.
Read the rest of the article and interview here
By ERIC SCHANK
Photo by Jesse Costa/WBUR