Can Illegal Drugs Save Lives? Stunning Studies Point Toward Endless Possibilities

For as long as we can remember, drugs were bad, unless of course they were prescribed to you by a doctor to help you with what ails you. Many of us were a proud graduates of the DARE program, and still might even have our certificate on the wall.

All those tools we learned in that program were quickly dispelled, after realizing all the information we were taught was wildly inaccurate, and statistically ineffective at preventing drug use. Now to dispel some anxiety, it seems that all these “Evil” drugs that we were taught about in the DARE program have become incredible uses in the field of medicine.

Here are 7 drugs being used in incredible new ways, oftentimes even saving lives.

7. CBD oil from marijuana is used to treat chronic seizures.

A worker trims cannabis at the growing facility of the Tikun Olam company

A worker trims cannabis at the growing facility of the Tikun Olam company | Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Cannabis has been used for thousands of years in a medicinal capacity all over the world, but it’s only recently when the larger population has started to to get back on board with that train of thought. Cannabis has two primary components: Tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC, known as the psychoactive part that gets you high), and cannabidiol, which acts completely separately from THC, and has shown strong effects in treating seizures. It’s not fully understood why CBD works, but it does. Studies are being conducted to understand it further.

Next: The thing cancer patients can’t live without

6. THC is being used in cancer treatment

Dave Warden, a bud tender at Private Organic Therapy (P.O.T.), a non-profit co-operative medical marijuana dispensary, displays various types of marijuana available to patients

Dave Warden, a bud tender at Private Organic Therapy (P.O.T.), a non-profit co-operative medical marijuana dispensary, displays various types of marijuana available to patients | Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

When people get cancer, the standard form of treatment involves chemotherapy. Chemotherapy, while often effective, always comes with a host of horrendous side effects. THC is the counterweight to those side effects. It has been shown to help with nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy when smoked. Being able to eat and keep your food down helps tremendously when in such a serious fight for your life. A small number of studies have also shown it to be effective in treating neuropathic pain, or chronic pain from damaged nerves.

Next: A cure for PTSD could be just around the corner

5. MDMA/Ecstasy is being used to treat and cure PTSD

A Bureau of Customs (BOC) personnel displays confiscated illegal drugs, known Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), commonly refered to as ecstasy, at a press conference at the BOC headquarters in Manila

A Bureau of Customs (BOC) personnel displays confiscated illegal drugs, known Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), commonly referred to as ecstasy, at a press conference at the BOC headquarters in Manila | NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images

PTSD is an incredibly difficult mental illness to treat, and a good of what has been on the market has just been used to numb the symptoms. What MDMA does for a victim is allow them to look at the event(s) that they have experienced from an outside perspective, and let go of them. Initial studies showed that a large number of people in the trial treatment no longer suffered from symptoms of PTSD before the program was even over. The best part is that patients remain symptom-free for years to come.

Next: An anesthetic has found a new purpose

4. Ketamine is being used for depression

Glass capsules containing ketamine are seen in Bang Pa In

Glass capsules containing ketamine are seen in Bang Pa In | NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images

Yes, we are talking about the horse tranquilizer, or better known on the street as “special K.” This drug is being used to treat depression, because it has dissociative qualities that can be helpful in treatment. The truth is that only about 45% of depression sufferers see any improvement in their illness from traditional antidepressants. This is still being studied, but in limited studies, ketamine has shown itself to be far more effective than other options.

Next: You may be able to see the end of your anxiety with this drug

3. Magic mushrooms are being used to treat people with deep anxiety

Magic Mushrooms sit in a fridge

Magic Mushrooms sit in a fridge | Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Magic mushrooms are now more than accidental fun time while camping. Researchers are using pure, synthesized psilocybin (the active psychedelic component in mushrooms) to help patients with extreme anxiety issues. In a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, 80% of patients found clinically significant improvement in their symptoms. A similar study performed by New York University showed similar results. The treatment usually takes just a few hours, and has significant, enduring impacts on the mental health of patients.

Next: Silicon Valley may be on to something with this new trend

2. LSD is being used to be more productive at work

This photo shows LSD blotter tabs on top of a US quarter coin

This photo shows LSD blotter tabs on top of a US quarter coin | PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

LSD has been in the news and gossip columns lately, having recently been shown to improve people’s work habits through a method called “micro-dosing”. Generally, a subject will take 10 micrograms of LSD every 4 days. It’s a very trendy idea, however, the evidence is almost purely anecdotal.

So far there have not been any traditional studies to gauge its effectiveness, but thousands of people across the world have hailed it as a turning point in their lives. Essentially the micro-dosing of the drug creates a serious sharpness that one would get from an extremely restful night, and also allows people to look at the bigger picture of things, rather than focusing on only on the small aspect.

Next: This is the last drug you’d ever expect to help opioid addicts

1. Heroin is being used to treat opioid addiction

Police officer displays confiscated baggy of heroin

Police officer displays confiscated baggy of heroin | John Moore/Getty Images

You didn’t read that wrong. This is an actual treatment that researchers are looking into. At Hannover Medical School in Germany, Dr. Torsten Passie is using small amounts of heroin to wean addicts off of opioids like Percocet, Vicodin, Demerol, and Oxycontin. His studies have shown that most patients don’t even feel the intoxicating effects of heroin after about a month, while other drug use (marijuana, alcohol, and benzodiazepines) was been significantly decreased. After about a year, 60% of the subjects studied had stopped using drugs altogether.

The thing with drugs is that there is always a good and bad side, whether they’re a pharmaceutical prescription, or a street drug. The fact remains that there will always be a medical use for many of them, and as such, it would do us well to change our perception and move forward to a better future.

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