The technique used in the therapeutic process by the use of psychedelic substances is termed Psychedelic therapy. These hallucinogenic substances are being used by different cultures, in the form of medicine and for spiritual practices. However, these hallucinogenic drugs have been made illegal by the Us government for a long time, generally during the 1960s and 1960s. Even some psychedelic drugs are still unlawful, like LSD and psilocybin, they are believed to be the potential treatment fr several conditions like anxiety, addiction, and depression.
Nowadays, many researchers have been allowed to use these drugs for trials to treat various diseases. In a study, it has been found that although psilocybin is not safe, This therapy is the beneficial for humanity, it produces a positive effect on well-being(R. R. Griffiths et al., 2006).
Although there are many substances used in psychedelic therapy, Some of them are:
LSD(Lysergic acid diethylamide): This psychedelic substance can cause consciousness, perception and alter mood. Due to these practical aspects, people can use it to treat addiction and anxiety. (Gasser et al., 2014),
Psilocybin: Similarly, it also alters consciousness and perception. Psilocybin is being used in the treatment of anxiety, depression, addiction. It is the main compound of magic mushroom. Experts believe that it helps treat obsessive-compulsive disorders, addictions. (Vargas et al., 2020) (Johnson & Griffiths, 2017)
Ayahuasca: Ayuhausca is the product of South America. Ayahuasca could be used for addiction, depression, and anxiety. But it causes some side effects like serotonin syndrome and medication interaction.
MDMA(ecstasy): MDMA is also known as ecstasy. Although it is not a psychedelic substance, it produces psychedelic effects like euphoria, increased arousal, and increased sociability. Research reveals that it is helpful to treat post-traumatic stress (Mithoefer et al., 2019) disorders. (Johnson & Griffiths, 2017),
There is no standardized practice for the treatment, so practitioners use their methods and strategies to perform psychedelic therapy. There is no standardized practice for their use. The professionals should supervise it with psychedelic experiences. There is always a set for the session between patient and therapist; the collection includes the mood and expectations. Patient should feel comfortable, he should be feeling calm and attentive to the surrounding environment. In these sessions, there can be repeating psychedelic doses for one to two weeks between sessions. Then comes up with the integration, which is a step after the psychedelic experience. After these sessions, the person should be meaningful in terms of the psychedelic experience, and it should be worth having these sessions.
How is it done?
The exact dosing and effectiveness are still under evaluation, so psychedelic therapy depends on the person who is treating—and guiding the patient.
There are three stages considered by most of the therapist:
- Consultation: Foremost step is to consult the health professional ensuring the contraindications of the treatment. At this point, the person can discuss the personal background and any other goal and concern related to psychedelic therapy.
- Ingestion: Secondly, the substance is injected orally or via injection but under the supervision of a trained professional. Multiple sessions are conducted depending on the treatment plan, like MDMA- therapy includes at least three sessions, while ketamine therapy includes one to twelve sessions. Psilocybin and LSD therapies involve at least two sessions.
- Integration: Finally, both therapist and client share and integrate the meaning of psychedelic experiences. (Johnson & Griffiths, 2017)
Psychedelics are helpful to produce profound mind-altering effects. Psychedelics are known to affect serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter. Some of the benefits of these drugs include having an improved sense of well-being, introspection, spiritual experiences, feeling of relaxation, increased social connectedness.
According to NIDA, National Institute on Drug Abuse, psychedelic drugs has some other effects that interrupt the person from reasoning, communicating with others, and interpreting reality. Along with these valuable points, there are some consequences like an altered sense of time, paranoia, intense perceptions and emotions, distorted perceptual experience, Distortions of reality, (How Do Hallucinogens (LSD, Psilocybin, Peyote, DMT, and Ayahuasca) Affect the Brain and Body? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), n.d.)Unrealness Psychedelic expertise is helpful to aware the patients of these consequences while going through interactive sessions. With the patient.
In some cases, people can experience improved symptoms even if the substances are worn off.
There are several applications of psychedelic therapy. Studies showed that this is positively effective in specific treatments like anxiety, depression, alcohol use, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
- Anxiety and mood disorders:
Psychedelic substances are helpful in the treatment of mood depression and potentially mood benefits. Studies found in a double-blind controlled trial that treatment with psilocybin reduce anxiety and depression in cancer treatment patients. (Roland R. Griffiths et al., 2016) Psilocybin also increases the quality of life, reducing stress over mortality, improve optimism. In a study, 80% of participants showed improved symptoms continued to six months later. Another study showed that participants taking LSD and psilocybin enhances mood and the person feel socially connected. And the symptoms continue to improve even after the drug is worn off.
- Post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD):
MDMA assisted therapy is effective in Post-traumatic stress disorders as observed in some researches., Although MDMA is not a psychedelic substance, it is an ingredient in ecstasy; its psychedelic effect is very effective in severe PTSD that is unresponsive to other treatments. (Mithoefer et al., 2018)
A clinical trial showed efficacy in the treatment of PTSD. 54% of participants do not meet the criteria for diagnosis after the treatment. 23% of participants no longer met the requirements upon follow-up. (Mithoefer et al., 2019)
- Alcohol and substance use disorders:
Researches revealed that LSD is very helpful in treating and recovery from disorders from alcoholic substances. Also, now it is being observed that LSD can also be beneficial in treating addictions. (Denson & Sydiaha, 1970) A study of 2015 observed that consumption of psilocybin related therapy decreased craving of alcohol and alcohol consumption and increases abstinence. (Bogenschutz et al., 2015),
Another study of 2019 revealed that people quit alcohol while consuming psychedelics, and 10% of participants reduce alcohol consumption, and 25% of participants reported changing the role of their alcohol use. (Garcia-Romeu et al., 2019) one 2012 study found that consumption of one dose of LSD beneficially affects alcohol misuse for six months after treatment, although it is not more effective for 12-months. (Krebs & Johansen, 2012)
Studies has been found that many people are concerned about self-medicating and self-treatment using psilocybin by the 2020 Global Drug Survey. Irrespective of contamination and lack of medical supervision, psychedelic substances are generally considered safe and at low risk.
Some side-effects are observed with MDMA, like high blood pressure, increased heart rate, but they can reduce after use. Other effects of psilocybin include elevated blood pressure, light headache, confirming the relation between psychedelic and psychosis and psychotic disorders. LSD can also cause hallucinogenic persisting perception disorder. In this condition, the person feels flashbacks and hallucinations. Along with these symptoms and side effects, Ibogaine is also linked with potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias. Hence limits its use for observational trials focusing on opioid conditions. (GDS 2020 | Global Drug Survey, n.d.)(Tupper et al., 2015) (Koenig & Hilber, 2015)(Tupper et al., 2015)
Negative psychological reactions:
Sometimes psychedelics can lead to an adverse psychological reaction known as a bad trip. It results in terrifying feelings of anxiety and the fear of losing control. The negative psychological symptoms are anxiety, panic, paranoia (Meaning of a Bad Trip, n.d.).
The danger of Self-treatment:
Self-treatment can include the psychological dangers of experiencing a bad trip, the possible drug interactions, and the fact that many drugs are mixed with unknown and potentially harmful substances. (How Do Hallucinogens (LSD, Psilocybin, Peyote, DMT, and Ayahuasca) Affect the Brain and Body? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), n.d.)
Changes in Personality:
Psychedelic substances can produce long-term mind-altering, personality change effects. A study showed that psilocybin therapy resulted in increased extroversion and openness. And people can try new things and willing to do the treatment with psilocybin therapy. (Placebo Effect May Explain Benefits of Psychedelic Microdosing, n.d.).
Bogenschutz, M. P., Forcehimes, A. A., Pommy, J. A., Wilcox, C. E., Barbosa, P., & Strassman, R. J. (2015). Psilocybin-assisted treatment for alcohol dependence: A proof-of-concept study. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 29(3), 289–299. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881114565144
Denson, R., & Sydiaha, D. (1970). A controlled study of LSD treatment in alcoholism and neurosis. The British Journal of Psychiatry: The Journal of Mental Science, 116(533), 443–445. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.116.533.443
Garcia-Romeu, A., Davis, A. K., Erowid, F., Erowid, E., Griffiths, R. R., & Johnson, M. W. (2019). Cessation and reduction in alcohol consumption and misuse after psychedelic use. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 33(9), 1088–1101. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881119845793
Gasser, P., Holstein, D., Michel, Y., Doblin, R., Yazar-Klosinski, B., Passie, T., & Brenneisen, R. (2014). Safety and efficacy of lysergic acid diethylamide-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with life-threatening diseases. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 202(7), 513–520. https://doi.org/10.1097/NMD.0000000000000113
GDS 2020 | Global Drug Survey. (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2021, from https://www.globaldrugsurvey.com/gds-2020/
Griffiths, R. R., Richards, W. A., McCann, U., & Jesse, R. (2006). Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance. Psychopharmacology, 187(3), 268–283. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-006-0457-5
Griffiths, Roland R., Johnson, M. W., Carducci, M. A., Umbricht, A., Richards, W. A., Richards, B. D., Cosimano, M. P., & Klinedinst, M. A. (2016). Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized, double-blind trial. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 30(12), 1181–1197. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881116675513
How Do Hallucinogens (LSD, Psilocybin, Peyote, DMT, and Ayahuasca) Affect the Brain and Body? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2021, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/hallucinogens-dissociative-drugs/how-do-hallucinogens-lsd-psilocybin-peyote-dmt-ayahuasca-affect-brain-body
Johnson, M. W., & Griffiths, R. R. (2017). Potential Therapeutic Effects of Psilocybin. In Neurotherapeutics (Vol. 14, Issue 3, pp. 734–740). Springer New York LLC. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-017-0542-y
Koenig, X., & Hilber, K. (2015). The anti-addiction drug ibogaine and the heart: A delicate relation. In Molecules (Vol. 20, Issue 2, pp. 2208–2228). MDPI AG. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules20022208
Krebs, T. S., & Johansen, P. Ør. (2012). Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) for alcoholism: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. In Journal of Psychopharmacology (Vol. 26, Issue 7, pp. 994–1002). SAGE PublicationsSage UK: London, England. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881112439253
Meaning of a Bad Trip. (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2021, from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-bad-trip-22071
Mithoefer, M. C., Feduccia, A. A., Jerome, L., Mithoefer, A., Wagner, M., Walsh, Z., Hamilton, S., Yazar-Klosinski, B., Emerson, A., & Doblin, R. (2019). MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of PTSD: study design and rationale for phase 3 trials based on a pooled analysis of six phases 2 randomized controlled trials. Psychopharmacology, 236(9), 2735–2745. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-019-05249-5
Mithoefer, M. C., Mithoefer, A. T., Feduccia, A. A., Jerome, L., Wagner, M., Wymer, J., Holland, J., Hamilton, S., Yazar-Klosinski, B., Emerson, A., & Doblin, R. (2018). 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder in military veterans, firefighters, and police officers: a randomized, double-blind, dose-response, phase 2 clinical trial. The Lancet Psychiatry, 5(6), 486–497. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30135-4
Placebo Effect May Explain Benefits of Psychedelic Microdosing. (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2021, from https://www.verywellmind.com/placebo-effect-may-explain-benefits-of-psychedelic-microdosing-5115042
Tupper, K. W., Wood, E., Yensen, R., & Johnson, M. W. (2015). Psychedelic medicine: A re-emerging therapeutic paradigm. CMAJ, 187(14), 1054–1059. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.141124
Vargas, A. S., Luís, Â., Barroso, M., Gallardo, E., & Pereira, L. (2020). Psilocybin as a new approach to treat depression and anxiety in the context of life-threatening diseases-a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. In Biomedicines (Vol. 8, Issue 9). MDPI AG. https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines8090331