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4 Psychedelic Drugs That Are Shockingly Beneficial in Treating Mental Health Issues

Anna Leikvold

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Psychedelic drugs have been used across cultures for centuries, but only recently has modern science begun to tap into the potential use of these drugs as a mental health treatment.

The word psychedelic comes from two Greek roots: “psyche,” meaning mind/soul, and “Delos/delic,” meaning to reveal. Thus, the word translates to “soul/ mind revealing.”

Unfortunately, for this potentially revolutionary mental health treatment, the long-held stigma towards drugs continues to complicate research. For a while, this made it nearly impossible to continue looking into the potential benefits of psychedelic drugs. These restrictions are loosening, however, and the FDA has even called psilocybin therapy a “breakthrough therapy.” This means more and more researchers are able to study these drugs. The findings are often groundbreaking.

 Trials are currently underway to test psychedelic drugs including psilocybin, LSD, ketamine, and others in order to treat a predicted mental health epidemic that is beginning to occur as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While more research is needed, preliminary findings are shockingly successful in treating mental health issues including, but not limited to, PTSD, depression, drug addiction, and anxiety.

A red mushroom with white dots growing in dirt, referred to as a magic mushroom.
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Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms)

Research done with Psilocybin suggests that it may be successful in providing a lasting decrease in anxiety for people suffering from life-threatening diseases such as cancer. 

In combination with therapy, the drug helped 13 participants “grapple with loss and existential distress.” Nearly all participants reported that they developed a different understanding of dying after using the drug according to Gabby Agin-Liebes, BA, of Palo Alto University, who conducted the research.

“Participants made spiritual or religious interpretations of their experience and the psilocybin treatment helped facilitate a reconnection to life, greater mindfulness and presence, and gave them more confidence when faced with cancer recurrence,” said Agin-Liebes.

Another study suggests that psilocybin can be used on patients with treatment-resistant depression with promising results. The results show symptom improvements for the patients after just two psilocybin treatment sessions which remained significant 6 months after the treatment.

Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca has played an important part in many South American traditional religions for centuries. This plant-derived psychoactive drug was first formulated by indigenous South Americans of the Amazon basin.

 Some communities that use the drug regularly still exist in the 21st century despite exploitative measures of Western nations who saw the drug as “uncivilized.” The substance is typically prepared by a shaman or religious guide and ingested by members of a religious group. The substance is regarded as a valuable tool in places of worship. 

Ayahuasca has only recently been studied as a potential treatment for depression and addiction, or for people coping with trauma. 

“We found that ayahuasca also fostered an increase in generosity, spiritual connection and altruism,” said Clancy Cavnar, PhD, with Núcleo de Estudos Interdisciplinares sobre Psicoativos.

Adele Lafrance, Ph.D., of Laurentian University, highlighted a study of 159 participants who reported on past use of hallucinogens and their emotions and spirituality levels. The study found that using hallucinogens related to a higher level of spirituality and emotional wellbeing as well as fewer symptoms of disordered eating, depression, and anxiety.

Swirling colorful patterns depicting the affects of LSD.
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LSD

A 2016 study found that after taking LSD, healthy participants reported increased optimism and trait openness. The study seems to reinforce the idea that psychedelics improve psychological wellbeing in the mid-long term.

 LSD, like Psilocybin and Ayahuasca, shows promise as a treatment for anxiety and depression among other conditions. It is also commonly reported to increase spirituality and, in turn, emotional wellbeing. 

In an interview with an anonymous source, they claimed that taking LSD substantially decreased their levels of social anxiety.

“Going into the trip, I set an intention to address my feelings of anxiety around my self-perception,” they said. “By focusing on this throughout the trip, I was shocked by how much happier I felt afterward.”
They say that the positive effects have continued in the months following the experience. “I can’t believe how much more self-assured I feel now. It is like night and day.” 

They want to remind everyone that it is a serious drug and not to underestimate the power of it, and not to abuse it. “If you are going to trip, you need to do a lot of research and be in a safe environment with people you trust.”  While they continue to experience long-term positive effects, they know it is not the same for everyone. 

MDMA

MDMA, more commonly known as ecstasy, is in its third and last phase of clinical trials and is hoping to win approval by the FDA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Findings from the study also suggest that the drug can help treat social anxiety in autistic adults when used in combination with psychotherapy. Twelve adults in the study with moderate to severe anxiety showed “significant and long-lasting reductions in their symptoms” according to the research. 

“Social anxiety is prevalent in autistic adults and few treatment options have been shown to be effective,” said Alicia Danforth, Ph.D., of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, who conducted the study. MDMA and therapy, based on this research, could be a potential breakthrough for this condition.

These studies only represent a small percentage of a larger database of information on the potential benefits of psychedelic drugs. While the findings are promising, more research is needed. Self-treatment using these drugs is risky and potentially dangerous.

If you are interested, contact a medical professional and continue to do extensive research before taking any type of psychedelic. Waiting until they are an FDA approved treatment option will be the safest and most effective way to treat any mental health condition.

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Why wearing a mask is everyone’s business

Carolyn Martinez

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A dark-haired woman wearing a white medical mask.
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Almost 20 million people have contracted COVID-19 and there have been over half a million deaths as well. Public health experts have emphasized the use of face coverings to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. In response, extremist groups have taken to rallying against the use of masks, claiming the required use of masks is an infringement on their rights.

“Masks make us slaves,” mentioned a lady from Berlin. 

“Let kids be kids. No masks,” mentioned another from a Salt Lake City protest. 

The use of masks has been encouraged extensively for its effectiveness in retaining bodily fluid that spreads germs and, if contracted, COVID-19. There are countless graphics and scientific studies that prove the benefits of using masks in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

Even so, a Florida restaurant owner, against mandated mask use, offered an anti-mask extremist group free meals at his restaurant, which violated Orange County’s mandate to wear masks in public spaces. Now, Florida is the world’s new epicenter for the virus.

Many people protest outside of a building, people carry the US Flag and other flags, many people carry signs with black and red text.
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The use of masks, as well as the handle of the virus, has become a political topic to be debated rather than a humanitarian emergency.

When public officials require the use of masks, there is a perception that constitutional rights are being infringed. However, in that thought, there’s a selfish disregard for those that don’t have basic human needs met, such as access to proper healthcare. 

This pandemic has exposed the deep-rooted systemic disparities that exist in low-income families’ lack of access to healthcare.

Those that feel so inclined to attend rallies and protest the use of masks feel secure in their access to healthcare, the quality of treatment they may be receiving, and the fact that they can financially afford to be incapacitated by the virus. That is not a luxury that everyone has. 

A man with a beard and a black shirt shouts at a police officer with a mask on and a police uniform.
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Nevertheless, those against the use of masks are constantly in contention with the public officials that require them.

Treating masks as something worth debating invalidates the lives of those who don’t have any of the aforementioned luxuries.

Additionally, it creates an excess of conversation around something timely that can cost people’s lives. 

Some people have taken to social media to voice these protests.

There is no doubt that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color, but with the Black Lives Matter movement necessitating protest and attention, communities of color have had to endure two intense traumas.

Politicians have taken the opportunity to politicize the pandemic at the expense of communities of color. And as the aforementioned tweet pointed out, some people just don’t recognize oppression and thus minimize others’ experiences for their benefit. 

People have forgotten to listen to the real experts, those that are informed on the risks of the virus, and are knowledgeable about how it spreads and how to contain it. Instead, they focus on those wanting to start speculative arguments, while millions continue to die.

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How I Began to Live More Meaningfully and How You Can Too

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A young brunette lady wearing a grey sweater and a blue backpack with a logo on it and jeans walks to her university.
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It took me a while to get to this point. I first realized—and I mean really realized— I had a problem during my freshman year of college. But my issues went back years and years. 

I think we’d all like to believe that our problem can be summed up in one little diagnosis or one word, but that’s not how it works at all.

For me, my anxiety feeds into my body image issues, which feed into a lack of self-esteem, which then circles back to my anxiety. 

When I did realize that I wasn’t okay and that the way I was feeling wasn’t sustainable, I decided to do nothing. I actively decided that there was no possible way to change how I felt and that I would always feel this way.

I would never be able to look in the mirror and not ache. I would never be able to break free of the self-pitying, cynical voice in my head. I wouldn’t be able to break away from my social anxiety and the constant fear that I wasn’t good enough and never would be. 

A black and white picture of a young woman wearing a sweater with small beaded designs on it, while covering one hand with another hand.
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I continued to believe this and live this way for a year. I smiled, laughed, and got good grades, but I actually wished I was someone completely different; someone, better. Not everyone wears their anxiety publicly; like covering myself up with a coat, mine was kept hidden until no one was looking. 

It wasn’t until the fall of my sophomore year that I finally told a friend that I was struggling. I spent that entire quarter in a fog—I cried walking to and from class, sometimes leaving in the middle of lectures to hyperventilate in the bathroom. I had a single dorm room at the time, and I spent most of my time there, crying alone instead of in my usual haunts with friends. 

It was there, in my room, that I finally told my friend everything. It was pure coincidence; she would often come bang on my door to scare me and then I’d invite her in and we’d chat and watch TV together. But this time, she caught me crying. Of course, I told her to go away; I convinced myself that I could handle everything alone like I always had. 

But she didn’t leave. She waited outside the door listening, I guess. She waited a few more minutes, and knocked more softly and asked again if she could come in. I wiped off my face, put on my goofy, self-deprecating grin, and opened the door.

I probably lied, said something about what an idiot I was, pretended I was crying over a TV show or commercial. 

A young buzzed man wearing a dark jacket with multicolored stripes and a young dark haired woman wearing a dark red sweater talk with each other at the Counseling and Psychological Services.
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What my friend did next saved me. She just sat cross-legged on my bed and waited for me to tell her everything, so I did. I told her the full truth that I had never told anyone before (and have told only one other person since). She listened and broke in rarely. And when I was all done, she told me I should go to the Counseling and Psychological Services at our university

When I resolutely told her that I could still deal with it alone, she didn’t push me any farther. She just said that she valued me, even when I didn’t value myself. That she would always listen, though she couldn’t promise that she wouldn’t offer advice afterward.

She said that she loved me and that when I look in the mirror, I should tell myself I am beautiful, even if I didn’t believe it at first.

She saw the signs that my own mother didn’t. She noticed the way my smile would drop when no one was looking. She noticed when I would leave our circle of friends to be alone, only to come back with another fake grin.

She noticed how I avoided my own reflection like the plague. She had noticed that her friend could still smile and carry on while being in pain on the inside. 

At the time, it felt inconsequential. I would go on to talk to her many times, and it was only because of her that I finally did seek help by calling a therapist.

I came to the realization that it simply wasn’t fair to treat her and her acts of friendship as therapy.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a friend who will take on that role while they are also trying to take care of themselves. She not only listened, but she pushed me to seek help and understood my emotions and pain though they were illogical and nonsensical at times. 

I definitely should have sought help sooner. I assumed the painful conversations I had with my friend were not helping me, but I was wrong. I began to accept myself for who I was instead of hating myself for the person I thought I saw in the mirror.

No one deserves to hate themselves, though I spent a lot of time convincing myself otherwise. I hated myself for being so pitiful and for crying so much. I hated myself for not being able to control my eating better and for not looking like an Insta-model. 

Frankly, it wasn’t fair of me to lean so heavily on a friend for so long, but I can’t express how grateful I am to her for letting me do so. During that period, I wasn’t giving back to that relationship nearly as much as I received. She did not deserve to bear the full brunt of my problems on her shoulders the way she did.

I’ve only just started therapy over quarantine, but it has not yet cured all my problems. Just a few months of counseling have not “fixed” me, nor have my anxieties and pain melted away.

But, I do know that I am getting there instead of just wallowing in my own feelings and self-directed anger. It honestly feels really good to take action against this negative attitude that has weighed me down for years. Some days, I even feel good when looking at myself in the mirror.

If you or your friend is suffering silently, please consider calling a hotline or the counseling service at your university or place of work. Money is secondary. What others think of you is secondary. You deserve to live meaningfully; you are worth more than the barriers that stand between you and your mental health.

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Need Some Cash? Use these 6 Insanely Easy Apps to Earn Money as a College Student

Emily Bevacqua

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Several dollar bills laying messily on top one another, with a one dollar bill on top

Being a college student often means spending money. Whether it be food, nights out with friends, or a shopping spree, students need to earn cash to keep their bank accounts from dropping. These 6 apps offer unique ways to help students keep money in their wallets. 

College students rarely feel financially stable. Taking out thousands of dollars in loans to pay tuition leaves them feeling sick to the stomach and wanting to save as much money as possible. 

But who could resist stopping at Dunkin’ for a quick coffee? How can students not go out when it’s $5 Margarita Mondays at the local bar? Purchases that seem minor slowly chip away at bank accounts. Even with part-time jobs, college students find themselves running out of cash

With a little effort, there are many apps that can help earn enough money to pay for that daily coffee or well-deserved Margarita. Signing up for these 6 apps can help students feel better about spending money.

Phone leaning against several stacks of dollar bills, with a stack of hundred dollar bills in the forefront
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Declutter that Closet!

Mercari and Poshmark are two sellings apps that are best for college students who want to get rid of their unused stuff. Whether it be a shirt from American Eagle that they never wore or an old video game they’re done playing, these apps can help them get rid of their clutter. 

Mercari

"Mercari" printed in white across a blue background

Key Features:

  • App Name: Mercari 
  • Main Features: Follow other users and gain followers to get more eyes on your products. Offer lower prices to likers of the listed item to sell faster. Earn good ratings through quick shipping, neat packaging, and friendly communication. 
  • Unique Features: Users can set goals, learn selling tips, and track the progress of their goals. A price slide bar is available when listing items to tell users if the item is going to be a speedy sale, just right, or a slow sale. Smart pricing can be enabled, which adjusts listings automatically based on demand. 
  • Shipping: Shipping labels are paid for through the sale and emailed to you after an item is sold. You can offer free shipping which the cost will be deducted from your earnings. Print the label, package the item, and mail it within three business days!
  • Selling fee: 10% of listed price.
  • Withdrawal Minimum: $10. Transfer money to a bank account through Instant Pay with a $2 fee or through Direct Deposit; free of charge. 
  • Referral Program: Share a unique link with friends; they will get $10 off first order after signing up and an extra $20 when they make their first $100 selling. You’ll get $10 when they make their first purchase and $40 when they make their first $100.

Poshmark 

"Poshmark" printed in black with their logo above

Key Features:

  • App Name: Poshmark 
  • Main Features: Follow, like, and share other Poshers and their items to get more eyes on your products. Offer lower prices to likers of the listed item to sell faster. Earn good ratings by shipping quickly, neat packaging, and friendly communication. 
  • Unique Features: The app has a guide to Poshmark and proper Poshmark etiquette. Buyers can bundle items together and get a discount on them as well as save money on shipping. 
  • Shipping: Shipping labels are paid for through the sale and emailed to you after an item is sold. You have 2-3 days to ship the item. Print the label, package the item, and mail it!
  • Selling fee: They take a flat rate of $2.95 from items listed under $15 and 20% of the price if over $15
  • Withdrawal Minimum: None. Redeem balance through direct deposit or request a check. 
  • Referral Program: Friends get $10 when they sign up with your invite code and you earn $10 after they receive their first purchase.

Cashback When Shopping! 

Everyone is inevitably going to spend money. Whether college students are making weekly trips to the grocery store or updating their wardrobe through online shopping, the apps Ibotta and Rakuten give users cashback for their purchases. 

Ibotta 

Ibotta printed in red on a white background

Key Features:

  • App Name: Ibotta 
  • Main Features: Before you go shopping, find the store on the app and add items to your virtual shopping list that you intend to buy. Go shopping, come home, and take a picture of your receipt on the app to earn cashback from your selected items. 
  • Unique Features: Link your rewards cards to automatically earn cash back without the fuss of taking pictures of the receipt. Can also go online shopping through Ibotta portal, earn cashback for restaurant meals or shopping in-person for clothes. Add your favorite stores to a list for quicker shopping.
  • Withdrawal Minimum: $20. Transfer money to your bank or PayPal account. 
  • Referral Program: Earn $5 when referring friends with your referral code.

Rakuten 

Rakuten printed with an underline, all in red on a white background

Key Features:

  • App Name: Rakuten 
  • Main Features: Tap on a store you intend to buy from and the app will take you to their website. Shop as you normally would and Rakuten will automatically give you the cash back reward to your account. 
  • Unique Features: Add your favorite stores to a list for easy browsing. Link your debit card to the account for in store and restaurant cash back rewards. There are also offers for cashback for booking hotels, vacation packages, airfare, cruises, and car rentals. 
  • Withdrawal Minimum: $5.00. Get paid quarterly through PayPal or receive a check in the mail.
  • Referral Program: Earn $25 for each friend that joins and spends $25. They will also receive $10. 

Nothing To Do But Make Cash!

When there’s nothing to do but watch Netflix or listen to music, Survey Junkie and Google Opinion Rewards can help college students waste a little time while earning a few bucks. These apps give users random surveys to help companies gain valuable feedback on consumers.

Illustration of a woman in a red blazer, carrying bags next to a phone of proportions larger than she
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If a college student is uncomfortable giving out specific information simply skip the survey! These apps usually take time to accrue decent cash, but it’s worth it if you got nothing better to do. 

Survey Junkie

Survey junkie printed in white on a black background, with their logo above as a green check mark and a black circle around it

Key Features:

  • App Name: Survey Junkie
  • Main Features: Take random surveys to earn points. 500 points is equivalent to $5. Not every survey will be successful meaning it may fill up too fast or you won’t qualify for it. 
  • Unique Features: Fill out profile surveys to gain access to higher rewarding surveys. Provides an approximate duration of surveys and how many points you will earn if you complete the survey. 
  • Withdrawal Minimum: $5. Redeem through e-gift cards, PayPal or transfer to your bank.

Google Opinion Rewards

Google opinion rewards written in yellow, with a white trophy on top of a blue background above it.

Key Features:

  • App Name: Google Opinion Rewards. 
  • Main Features: The app notifies you when there is a survey to take and allots you 24 hours to take it. Each completed survey earns between $0.10 and $1.00. You do not have to take every survey you receive. 
  • Unique Features: Surveys are given out randomly. Those who don’t answer truthfully will not receive as many surveys. You do not have to go in the app unless they notify you!
  • Withdrawal Minimum: $2. Automatically is redeemed through PayPal. Make sure both accounts have the same email address. 

There are plenty of other apps out there that can help college students earn a little extra cash. Whether they are legit or not is up to you to decide. In the end, the amount you earn depends on how much time and effort you put into these kinds of apps. You’ve got nothing to lose by earning some extra cash!

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