It is estimated that at least 57 million individuals in America have a mental-health condition. Of this number, roughly 14 million suffer from serious mental issues. Despite these huge numbers, conventional treatments aren’t effective for a significant number of patients, which has prompted many to seek alternative treatments.
Psychedelic therapy is one of the popular alternatives as numerous studies have shown that psychedelics could relieve mental health conditions like such as depression, anxiety, substance use disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. For instance, trials conducted by MAPS have demonstrated effectiveness in the use of MDMA in managing post-traumatic stress disorder. The trials determined that patients who received the treatment demonstrated considerable improvement over therapy with placebo.
Studies have shown that another entheogenic substance, ibogaine, could also be used to successfully address opioid addiction. The study found that ibogaine treatment drastically reduced withdrawal symptoms in most patients.
Despite all these positive findings, however, access to this effective alternative treatment remains low. So, how can the scientific community quash the preconceived notions society has about these drugs while ensuring patients can maximize their experiences with these effective treatments?
The following are a few suggestions:
Providing training and education
Educating the general public as well as the healthcare industry on the potential benefits of psychedelics is key. This will allow more acceptance to be cultivated as psychedelic therapy becomes more mainstream.
Choose optimal treatment sites
For patients to fully benefit from psychedelic therapy, an optimal environment is needed. Treatment sites should have a serene and inviting environment that helps put patients at ease. These environments should also eliminate potential distractions or sources of anxiety that may hinder the patient from fully immersing themselves in treatment.
Set safety standards
Establishing safety regulations for psychedelic studies and therapy will help protect patients as well as further research. A promising starting point is the FDA’s guidance on psychedelic research, as its addresses crucial aspects of safety in psychedelic trials, such as the importance of having trained psychotherapists present during psychedelic treatment. Having psychotherapists on site offers patients the support needed for integration after they undergo therapy. They also help safeguard positive patient experiences.
In addition to this, safety regulations make psychedelic therapy more credible, which in turn eases the process of acquiring funding to further studies on the effectiveness of these substances.
Make accessibility a priority
Making psychedelic therapy readily available to any and all who might be in need may encourage those who haven’t benefitted from conventional treatments to try an alternative.
However, for psychedelic therapy to become widely accessible, the drugs would first need to be rescheduled federally. At the moment, most psychedelics remain classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Drugs under this classification are said to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.
Startups such as atai Life Sciences N.V. (NASDAQ: ATAI) are focused on undertaking R&D programs aimed at bringing to market FDA-approved psychedelic treatments. These efforts are being complemented by academia and other entities working on filling the policy and information gaps within this fast-growing industry.
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