Psychedelic-assisted therapy refers to therapeutic practices involving psychedelic drugs, oftentimes utilizing serotonergic psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin, dmt, MDMA, mescaline, and 2C-B. Psychedelic therapy, in contrast to conventional psychiatric medication taken by the patient regularly or as-needed, patients generally remain in an extended psychotherapy session during the acute psychedelic activity with additional sessions both before and after in order to help integrate experiences with the drug.
Mental disorders are rising while development of novel psychiatric medications is declining. This stall in innovation has also been linked with intense debates on the current diagnostics and explanations for mental disorders, together constituting a paradigmatic crisis. A radical innovation is psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy (PAP): professionally supervised use of ketamine, MDMA, psilocybin, LSD and ibogaine as part of elaborated psychotherapy programs. Clinical results so far have shown safety and efficacy, even for “treatment resistant” conditions, and thus deserve increasing attention from medical, psychological and psychiatric professionals. But more than novel treatments, the PAP model also has important consequences for the diagnostics and explanation axis of the psychiatric crisis, challenging the discrete nosological entities and advancing novel explanations for mental disorders and their treatment, in a model considerate of social and cultural factors, including adversities, trauma, and the therapeutic potential of some non-ordinary states of consciousness.
After the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified a number of psychedelics as Schedule I narcotics, funding for this kind of research all but disappeared, until recently.
In the past decade there’s been a renewed interest in “psychedelic medicine,” especially at it relates to treatment-resistant forms of addiction, anxiety, post-traumatic stress-disorder (PTSD) and depression.
To the surprise of many sharp-eyed onlookers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to green-light these studies and, in some cases, new drugs like Spravato, a ketamine like nasal spray for treatment-resistant depression.
“It behooves policy-makers to be aware of and open to new approaches to treatments emerging in the field of psychedelic medicine,” Kenneth Tupper, PhD, wrote in a peer-reviewed article published by the National Institutes of Health.
“This is particularly important for those concerned about the growing prevalence of mental illness, including addiction, as well as its associated human, social and economic costs.”