Drug abuse, alcohol addiction and mental health issues are growing problems across the globe. With an increasing attitude of acceptance and empathy towards addiction and mental health, more research is looking into how these problems can be solved. One area of research that has grown in popularity in the last few years is psychedelic therapy.
Psychedelics, once only viewed through a recreational lens, are now being re-evaluated for medical use as certain psychedelic drugs such as Ketamine and LSD are showing signs of therapeutic benefits for people with addiction or mental health disorders.
What is Psychedelic Therapy and How Does it Work?
Psychedelic therapy is the use of hallucinogens in the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction and mental health issues. It is also known as psychedelic-assisted therapy, as the use of the drugs are used alongside therapy for addiction such as talking therapies to help treat issues.
Psychedelics treatment is being explored as drugs such as ketamine and LSD are believed to amplify the effects of therapy. They are being used particularly on patients that have treatment-resistant depression and other conditions that haven’t responded to traditional treatment.
Hallucinogens have been used in holistic medicine for thousands of years, ingrained in spiritual traditions like those of the Native Americans. In the Western world, psychedelics were researched in the 1940s and 50s. When psychedelics, especially LSD, became a symbol of the growing counterculture and left movement, Hallucinogens were outlawed and most constructive research into treatments such as ketamine assisted psychedelic therapy stopped.
In the last decade though, there has been a resurgence in focus on psychedelics, with numerous trials showing promise around their use in controlled settings. With a growing mental health crisis and the money this costs the government, the establishment has become more open to exploring safe ways to combat addiction and mental health issues with psychedelics.
Main Types of Psychedelic Therapy
There are several psychedelics that could be used to help with rehabilitation for addiction and disorders such as depression and PTSD.
Perhaps the most famous psychedelic drug. More commonly known as “acid”, this drug is found in a fungus that then needs to be synthesised in a lab. Users experience “trips” which are long-lasting hallucinations that change perception of reality. It can be taken in the form of a tab or by dropping some of the liquid onto your tongue. LSD therapy is useful in the treatment of addiction, depression and OCD.
Ketamine is an anaesthetic, used in veterinary and surgical settings. It is a painkiller but also dissociative, which means that people who take it can feel detached from everything – experiencing hallucinations and other psychedelic effects. Since 2019, a nasal spray form of the drug has been approved in the USA as a medication for treatment-resistant depression. Ketamine assisted psychedelic therapy is a leading treatment being researched for a variety of conditions.
Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic chemical found in mushrooms. It can cause hallucinations and alter a person’s sensory perceptions. Its use in psychedelic healing is popular as it can help alleviate depression and anxiety and alter emotional processing. Psilocybin is being used as a treatment to combat addiction, PTSD, OCD and treatment-resistant depression and anxiety.
Benefits of Psychedelic Therapy Treatment
The reason that psychedelic therapy is being explored at a greater rate is because of its many benefits. Therapy for addiction is key to beating the disorder, and these new treatments are showing promising signs.
Psychedelics produce an altered state of consciousness for a period of time and can help build new neural pathways. These drugs can make you feel more relaxed, give you an improved sense of well-being and encourage introspection. The idea of introspection is important in therapy and psychedelics can make you more open to suggestions that could change negative patterns you find yourself in.
Low Addiction Risk
Compared to other illegal drugs like heroin, psychedelics carry with them a very low addiction risk. Fatal overdoses are also a low risk of these types of drugs. Whilst you can develop a tolerance for psychedelics, this is only likely to occur if you take regular higher doses. In a controlled medical setting, forming an addiction to the psychedelic you are being treated with is very unlikely and can break the cycle of addiction.
Lower Physical Health Risks
Psychedelics can contribute to increased heart rate and blood pressure. However, the main dangers of psychedelics are psychological and only become a danger if abused. These drugs are not known to cause many other physical issues and you will not go through withdrawal if you stop taking psychedelics.
Effective in Treating Multiple Conditions
The growing success of various psychedelics with an array of conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction is why it is being considered a serious pathway of treatment. In a study around alcoholism published in 2022, those given psilocybin twice along with therapy reported a 9.7% rate of heavy drinking days – compared to 23.6% heavy drinking days in the control group.
Conditions Treated with Psychedelic Therapy
As stated above, psychedelic therapy can help treat many addictions and mental health conditions. These include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Eating disorders
- Drug and alcohol addiction
- Terminal illness distress
Does Psychedelic Therapy Work?
The effectiveness of psychedelic therapy does not come down to the drug, it comes down to the therapy sessions. Even if you are getting all the positive benefits of the drug – open to change and in a place of complete calm – it is pointless if the help you are getting is bad.
More and more studies show that in a controlled setting, with a professional therapist trained in this particular niche, treatment can be effective. Only with more studies and research can more information be learned. With more information, dangers can be more easily found and the process can be refined to become as effective as possible. If you are wondering can psychedelics treat drug and alcohol addiction, the answer is yes alongside other treatment therapies.
There is no singular approach to psychedelic therapy at the moment. Ideally, you would be screened beforehand to ensure that taking the drugs would not impact you negatively. Those with a history of psychosis themselves or in the family are not recommended to take psychedelics.
Under the supervision of a certified psychedelic therapist, a low dose of the drug would be administered. The setting is also important – a plain blank room is perhaps best to encourage a sense of calm and relaxation.
The most important part of the process is integration – sessions afterwards with a psychedelic therapist to help you explore what you have experienced. It is in this part where you look to uncover the causes of your issues and find ways to better cope and overcome them.
Learn More About Psychedelic Therapy
Psychedelic therapy could be an exciting route for addiction recovery. With more research and greater acceptance of its usage, it could be another tool in a rehab centre’s toolbox.
Rehab Clinics Group is dedicated to finding new and better ways to help addiction sufferers. If you want to know more about our private drug and alcohol rehabs and the treatment options we provide, including detoxification and a range of holistic therapies, then get in touch today.