The use of psychedelic drugs to treat mental health issues should be decriminalised in Australia urgently, an advocate says.
Australian Psychedelic Society vice-president Antanika Hoberg said her experience with psychedelic drugs were “lifesaving and lifechanging” to treat her complex post-traumatic stress disorder (c-PTSD).
“I should not be made to feel like a criminal, or be scared that my family was going to be taken away, because I needed to treat myself when other treatment just wouldn’t work.”
“We need decriminalisation first. I didn’t need legalisation to have success with these treatments, what I needed was no stigmas and support and education,” Ms Hoberg said.
Clinical trials are showing promising results in treating people suffering with mental health issues, but the law remains unchanged from the latest TGA decision in December 2021.
There are several current Australian trials in the use of the drugs such as MDMA, LSD and psilocybin. Lead therapist and chief principal investigator of a trial run by St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, Dr Margaret Ross, said it was “one of the most exciting developments in psychiatric research in decades”.
Ms Hoberg said she struggled with c-PTSD “because of my childhood sexual trauma”.
“From there I ended up with a lot depression, anxiety and addiction. I was drinking a lot of alcohol taking a lot of therapeutic drugs while also going to therapy for four years to try and help myself, but nothing would work for me.”
But after just two experiences with LSD, she said she no longer struggled with her c-PTSD, and was living happily with her family.
“It only took one LSD experience for me to get rid of my anxiety, depression and flashbacks … In the six months after my first experience, I felt incredible,” Ms Hoberg said.
Alcohol and Drug Foundation spokeswoman Laura Bajurny said Australia was still waiting for more research to be conducted until any change to the law would be possible.
“The research is emergent, and we need to be cautious. For people who are looking to access these kinds of treatments there are clinical trials that are running,” Ms Bajurny said.
The TGA would be able to review its decision when more information is available, she said.
International trials have show considerable success: The Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research in the US said their studies had shown psychedelic treatment with psilocybin relieved major depressive disorder symptoms in adults.