Mental Health and Illegal Drugs

*DISCLAIMER* these drugs are all illegal and should not be used to treat these disorders unless prescribed by a doctor

There has been a significant amount of awareness raised that illegal drugs such as Ketamine, Ecstasy and Marijuana can help with an array of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

Ketamine – Depression  

In a recent study it was found that Ketamine could help with depression, so i decided to look into mental illness and whether any other illegal drugs can benefit peoples mental health.

Depression is defined as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems”

Ketamine is a drug that has a reputation as a hallucinogenic party drug, but is also used as an anaesthetic. Recently there has been a study and ketamine has helped those with depression who have not responded to other treatments.

Of the 101 people taking part in this study, 42 of them responded to the ketamine very well.

The antidepressive benefits from one injection last up to two weeks. “The first ketamine infusion literally saved my life,” says one patient. “I had felt so desperate I was going to end it all. Subsequent ketamine treatment has enabled me to return to my job full-time. I still struggle at times but being able to work again has given me such a boost.”

To those who are unsure on how a drug that is usually a hallucinogen works in medical treatment for depression, here are a few reasons of how it can improve peoples’ lives:

  1. Increasing levels of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that when there is a lack of it can cause depression.
  2. Promoting the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).  Depression damages neurons and synapses, while BDNF strengthens existing synapses.


Ecstasy/MDMA – PTSD 

Ecstasy can come in many forms; as an illegal drug it is usually sold in powder/crystals or pill form. It is most commonly used as a ‘high’ at parties and raves, but recent theories and research suggests that it could be used to treat anxiety and PTSD.

PTSD is post-traumatic stress disorder is defined by the NHS as “an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events”. It causes you to relive the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, whilst giving you feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt, as well as insomnia.

Research is showing that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is an effective treatment for people who do not respond to traditional therapies for PTSD.

Before it was made illegal, psychotherapists used the drug to aid therapy sessions. People who use MDMA describe it as “inducing euphoria and decreasing fear, whilst remaining clear headed and alert”.

FDA could make drug legal by 2021 if the phase three tests involving controlled dosage and talk therapy are shown to help with post-traumatic stress disorder.


Marijuana – Insomnia and Bipolar Disorder 

Marijuana, more commonly known as weed or cannabis has a lot of coverage and research into supposedly treating multiple mental illnesses.

Insomnia is when someone struggles to fall asleep, and in some cases cannot sleep at all. Bipolar Disorder is defined as “manic depression, a mental illness that brings severe high and low moods and changes in sleep, energy, thinking, and behaviour”.

The research into weeds’ effects on Bipolar are varying as it can increase some patients’ symptoms of manic behaviour and sadness. However, some patients said “it helped them to relax and not have such low moods”.

So the effects can vary from patient to patient, this means if it is started to be used to treat bipolar then each patient should be reviewed first on whether the drug would help them.

People who struggle to sleep and have insomnia have started to turn to weed as treatment, this is due to the stigma around using the drug slowly disappearing.

The drug is known to relax people, so is very effective in getting people to sleep well and for a long time, the only issue is that people could become addicted to the drug and start using it every night in order to sleep.


I interviewed some students from Essex University asking if they think any of these drugs should be legalised for medical use, and if it is and they suffered from one of these conditions whether they would use it. Here’s what they had to say…

*DISCLAIMER* these drugs are all illegal and should not be used to treat these disorders unless prescribed by a doctor


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