Psychedelic Medicine: A Hopeful Way Out of Addiction

New hopes of treating addictions to cigarettes, cocaine and other addictive drugs have emerged. Research is being carried out on how drugs like psilocybin (aka: “magic mushrooms”) could be used to stop addictions.

With its ability to treat depression and improve the functionality of the brain, psychedelic medicines have gained widespread recognition in recent times in the world of science. Some substances such as LSD, psilocybin, MDMA that weren’t considered as highly important are now being used to fight other addictive substances. Psychedelics are now being applied in the US and UK to treat addictive substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, and cocaine.

The way psychedelics go about the transformation is yet to be confirmed, but scientist believes that it can change the way people behavior and perceive things related to addiction. Scientists are eager to find a lasting and quality solution to addiction because according to them, the options available now are not effective enough.

It’s a New Phase For Psychiatry

It is time to try out new possible means since the present treatments have not lived up to the expected standard, per Peter Hendricks, an addiction psychologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He wants to combine therapy and psilocybin, magic mushrooms’ active ingredient, or a placebo drug to treat cocaine addicts. According to him, he was forced to take action given the limited and ineffective treatment available for addicts. The research that was carried out 50 years ago on how LSD can be used to treat narcotic and alcohol addiction inspired him. The research showed that people who have previously used psychedelic were more responsive to the program drug-free. This pushed him to carry out more research into them, and according to him, the DEA and FDA approved of the research without any difficulty. Some patients have already volunteered for the treatment, and more are expected to join from addiction centers and advertisement in local Birmingham paper. The treatment consists of different sessions that create awareness among the patient on the use of psilocybin, which is complemented by therapy sessions. The same dosing strategy that is used in treating depression and end of life anxiety is also employed here.

Scientists still don’t understand the work pattern of psychedelics. However, they propounded some theories on how the drugs work.

Matthew Johnson, a psychology professor at Johns-Hopkins University, started a trial test to stop addiction to nicotine by using psilocybin. According to him, there is a noticeable change in the behaviour of people using psychedelics. The interesting thing about it is that the person can notice the change in his attitude and motivation, i.e. a state of mindfulness.

Hendricks was of the same opinion. He made it known that there is nothing that can be said of the functioning of psychedelics except that it causes a noticeable change in the user. There is an attention shift from the drug addiction to something else such as family or work.

However, what is most important at the initial stage of drug testing is whether it works not how it works. For example, nobody can describe how Lithium works in the treatment of bipolar disorder.

These trials would show whether psychedelics can create a significant change in the behaviour of addicts. Hendricks employs double-blinded and randomized research methods in treating alcohol addiction with psilocybin. This same method is used by a group also carrying out research in this area.

Johnson employs open-label in his research on treatment of addiction to smoking, i.e. the details about who is being treated is made open. The outcome of the research will be compared to that of nicotine patches, an effective nicotine addiction treatment. This could be the largest frontier gathered in the history of psychedelic research. Over a 100 participant would be treated by Johns Hopkins and The University of Alabama. Two research that would make use of ketamine and MDMA to treat alcohol addiction will also kick start later this year in the UK and would be targeted at another hundred participants.

It might take some years before the details of the research are released. However, scientists hope that this would open a new doorway to the treatment of addiction. This is a new dawn in psychiatry. The prolonged side effect that other treatments come with would be abolished if this trial could be a success. Once the pill you used is removed from your body after it has carried out its function, you will no longer feel its effect.

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