Psychiatrists disagree with US policy on certain psychoactive drugs: survey – The Hill

The story at a glance


  • Many psychoactive drugs are classified as Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act 1970, which means they have no medical use and pose a high risk of abuse, despite recent studies indicating otherwise.

  • To better understand psychiatrists’ views on programmed substances, researchers at Ohio State University conducted an online survey of 181 professionals.

  • The results highlighted that expert opinions were inconsistent with federal policy for some substances, suggesting that a schedule update may be warranted.

Reports have documented the growing popularity of marijuana and hallucinogenic drugs among Americans in recent years, while particular attention has been paid to the potential therapeutic benefits of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.

But under US federal law, marijuana and a lot hallucinogenic drugs are classified as Schedule 1, which means they have “no currently accepted medical uses and high potential for abuse,” according to the US Drug Enforcement Agency. This classification also hinders research on these substances, while their consumption can lead to criminal consequences.

Now, new search from Ohio State University reveals that many psychiatrists dispute the federal classification of psychoactive substances, particularly psilocybin and alprazolam (Appendix IV).

The online survey was completed by 181 American psychiatrists, randomly assigned to read one of four vignettes depicting a depressed patient who reported symptom relief after using non-prescribed psychoactive drugs (methamphetamine [Schedule II]ketamine [Schedule III], psilocybin or alprazolam). The participants had practiced psychiatry for an average of 16 years.


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“We wanted to pick two drugs for the vignettes that we thought were appropriately timed based on the scientific evidence, and then we picked two that we didn’t think necessarily reflected the current evidence,” explained the co. -author Adam Levin, a third-grade psychiatrist. and behavioral health resident at Ohio State’s College of Medicine, in a Press release.

“Psilocybin may not be timed appropriately, and we felt the risk might be underestimated for Xanax. Methamphetamine and ketamine, based on a review of the literature, are fairly consistent with their And then we wanted to see if the psychiatrists perceived any incongruities.

Psychiatrists answered questions about the clinical scenario and assessed the safety, therapeutic and abuse potentials of the substance.

Alprazolam (Xanax) is currently classified as a Schedule IV drug, which means – in the eyes of the federal government – that it has low potential for abuse and dependence and is of high therapeutic value.

But survey respondents rated alprazolam as having the highest abuse potential of the four substances and found it to have abuse potential comparable to methamphetamine and alcohol. It also currently belongs to the third most commonly used group of substances in the United States, the benzodiazepines.

Behind ketamine, psilocybin was ranked as having the second highest therapeutic potential, while having the lowest abuse potential. Studies have documented therapeutic effects benefits of ketamine and psilocybin for some mental health conditions.

“The problem is that our drug programs don’t match the scientific evidence of their real harm and real therapeutic and abuse potential,” said co-author Alan Davis, assistant professor and director of the Center for Psychedelic Drug Research. and Education in The Ohio State University College of Social Work in the release.

These substances were last classified in 1970 following the Controlled Substances Act. But since then much more has been discovered about the harms and potential uses of drugs. In particular, alcohol is not a scheduled substance, despite data showing it is the third leading cause of preventable death in the country.

“Methamphetamine, alcohol, and Xanax were found to be statistically equivalent in terms of abuse potential,” Davis said. “And we showed a similar finding where meth, alcohol and Xanax were all found to be equivalent in terms of being lower on the safety scale – more dangerous than psilocybin and ketamine.”

Overall, the researchers stressed the importance of having policies consistent with scientific evidence and noted that the opinions of psychiatrists were largely consistent with those of other mental health professionals and addiction experts, as well than to drug addicts themselves.

“It’s important to draw attention to this – we should have a flexible policy that can incorporate expert consensus,” Levin said.

Posted on August 23, 2022

Alvin J. Chase