Larry Mantle of Southern California Public Radio hosts an episode of AirTalk focused on research into psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for treating severe alcoholism and other drug addictions. Professor John Kelly of Harvard Medical School and Marc Mahoney of SOBA Recovery Center join in a discussion about traditional addiction treatments, current psychedelic research, and the benefits and risks of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. “The stigma of using psychedelic drugs is fading, and renewed interest in this kind of therapy has prompted new studies across the country,” notes Mantle.
Hallucinogenic drugs aren’t part of a typical recovery program for alcoholism, but new research on the effects of psilocybin, the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” might bring psychedelic drugs into addiction treatment programs.
Doctors at the University of New Mexico are using the ingredient in combination with therapy. The three-month pilot study of psilocybin was inspired by the medical use of LSD in alcohol treatment during the 1960s.
Psychedelics were previously used to achieve spiritual awareness during addiction treatment—the stigma of using psychedelic drugs is fading, and renewed interest in this kind of therapy has prompted new studies across the country.
Lead researchers say that the drugs aren’t intended as a cure or treatment in and of themselves, and aren’t to be taken as a prescribed pill. Instead, patients use non-addictive hallucinogens as a catalyst to make more traditional addiction therapy more effective.
Critics of the research argue that giving addicts drugs is an ineffective way to approach alcohol-related therapy and rehabilitation. Can psychedelic drugs effectively treat addiction?