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Psychedelics and Addiction: A Promising Path to Recovery



An addiction occurs when a person is compulsive about seeking and using drugs regardless of harmful consequences. This major public health issue affects millions of people around the world. In spite of the fact that there are a number of effective addiction treatments available, many people do not respond or relapse after initially succeeding.


Over the past few years, psychedelics have gained increasing attention as potential treatments for substance abuse disorders. Drugs that alter perception and mood are referred to as psychedelics. For centuries, traditional cultures have used them as spiritual and healing tools.


Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy


The use of psychedelics in psychedelic-assisted therapy (PAT) helps people with addiction overcome their substance abuse. Research suggests that PAT may offer promise as a treatment for addiction, but it is still in the experimental stages of development.


PAT typically involves one or two sessions in which the patient is given a psychedelic drug under the supervision of a trained therapist. The therapist provides support and guidance throughout the experience, which can be intense and emotionally challenging.


How Psychedelics Work


It is believed that psychedelics work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. In addition to being a neurotransmitter, serotonin is also associated with emotions, cognition, and mood. As a result of increased serotonin activity, psychedelic experiences cause changes in perception and emotion.


People struggling with substance abuse can benefit from these changes by gaining new insights into their addiction and their reasons for using drugs. Additionally, they assist in overcoming negative patterns of thinking and behavior associated with addiction.


Research on Psychedelics and Addiction


PAT may be a useful treatment for addiction, according to growing research. PAT has been shown to reduce drug use and improve the quality of life for people with substance abuse disorders.


Among the findings from a 2019 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology is that PAT with psilocybin is effective in treating addiction to alcohol. Researchers found that participants who received PAT abstained from alcohol and experienced reduced cravings.


According to Johns Hopkins researchers, a small number of longtime smokers who had tried many times to stop smoking were able to drop the habit after carefully controlling and monitoring the use of psilocybin, the active hallucinogen in so-called magic mushrooms, in conjunction with a cognitive behavioral therapy treatment program.


Additionally, according to a study published in 2022, psychedelic use reduces daily opioid use among illicit drug users in Canada.


The studies above are only a few examples of the growing body of research on the use of psychedelics to treat addiction. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the results to date are encouraging.


The Potential of Psychedelics in Addiction Treatment


The use of psychedelics has been used to treat addictions, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other conditions. There is some debate about whether psychedelic treatment is designed to treat an addiction specific to a particular drug.


The following psychedelics are commonly used in addiction treatment:

  • Psilocybin. An ingredient of psychedelic mushrooms. According to a study, two doses of psilocybin combined with psychotherapy reduced heavy drinking by 83%.

  • Ibogaine. It has a reputation for being an addiction cure.

  • LSD. Clinical trials are currently being conducted for neuropsychiatric disorders.

DMT, Ayahuasca, Mescaline, among others, are also used in addiction treatment.

Because psychedelics are serotonergic, they produce a neuroplasticity effect. In the brain, new cells grow, causing new connections and changes to existing ones.


Risks of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy


When administered under the supervision of a trained therapist, PAT is safe and effective. There are, however, some risks associated with PAT.


The risks of psychedelic use include the possibility of encountering a difficult or frightening experience. As a result of psychedelic use, people may also be at risk of developing psychosis.


Conclusion


Using PAT for the treatment of addiction offers promising results. It is suggested that it may be effective for treating a wide range of addictions in early research. To date, the findings are encouraging, although more research is needed.


While PAT is not a cure for addiction, it can prove valuable in the treatment of this complex and challenging illness. It is highly recommended that you speak with your doctor about PAT if you are struggling with substance abuse.


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