What Does The Future Of Psychedelics as Therapy Look Like?
Psychedelics have sparked a lot of intrigue in recent years, especially with supportive research and news of legalizing supervised use. Still, the future of psychedelics remains a question — and one that’s hard to predict.
With alternative medicine gaining popularity, what comes next for these types of drugs? Here’s what we know thus far.
Future of Psychedelics: The University Approach
Universities around the world are beginning to fund dedicated psychedelic research facilities. For instance, two are the Centre for Psychedelic Research at the Imperial College in London, and the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at John Hopkins University.
Psychedelics shows promise in having a major impact on neuroscience and psychiatry in the coming years. For that reason, universities are beginning to study the effects more closely.
With universities offering funding, support, and resources, expect a higher number of trials and new studies. Over the next decade, more widespread use of psychedelics is more of a reality than just a possibility.
Since their foundation, both centers have helped lead studies on the effects of psychedelics related to depression, eating disorders, alcohol abuse, and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s even an interesting option for treating asthma.
Many of the studies so far have shown great promise. However, studies often limit participants, so size and reach remains an issue with results.
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Worldwide Organizations and Associations
Since the early psychedelic research started showing great potential in treating some serious mental disorders, many non-profit and educational organizations and associations have formed worldwide. Some of the most important organizations include:
- Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). From MDMA and LSD to Ayahuasca and Ibogaine, MAPS has been extremely active in their efforts to see psychedelics get approved for specific therapy treatments. Some of their efforts have advanced into Phase 2 trials (such as the one with ibogaine), and even into a Phase 3 with MDMA. Brad Burg, the Director to Strategic Communication, believes that the future of psychedelics is looking good, and that “multiple forms of treatment centers [should] emerge, including psychiatric hospitals as well as privately owned clinics and independent practitioners. Psychedelic therapy is on track to be the next major breakthrough in mental health care.”
- Hakomi Institute. The Hakomi Institute is built on the original body-inclusive psychotherapy method developed by its founder, Ron Kurtz. Their mission includes training and helping counselors, psychotherapists, and social workers worldwide enrich the treatments to offer more to patients.
- Canadian Psychedelic Association (CPA). CPA dedicates itself to increasing public understanding and access to safe and effective psychedelic treatments. Through educational experientials and safe practices, CPA helps people understand the potential of these alternative methods.
Without these organizations, patients would be on their own to explore and discover what psychedelics are all about. With much conflicting and confusing information, advancing to a higher number of volunteers for studies and trials could also prove difficult.
The Greatest Challenges For the Future of Psychedelics
Some of the greatest obstacles and challenges to legalizing psychedelic use for treatment include:
- Money. About 99 percent of human psychopharmacology research still comes from the Big Pharma industry. On the contrary, most psychedelic research comes from charitable donations or philanthropy. But with investors beginning to involve themselves into the psychedelics industry, things could be changing. Breaking those financial barriers are holding psychedelic research back.
- Insurance Coverage and Accessibility. Most insurance companies still resist payment for psychotherapy. To make changes, it’s crucial to educate insurance providers and health policy regulators of the importance of psychedelic-assisted therapy.
- Certifications. When psychedelic treatment becomes legal, getting it to the patients in need will be the key challenge. Likewise, educating and certifying psychotherapists to administer these drugs will be crucial. That’s where the aforementioned non-profit organizations will play a huge part, ensuring adequate training in therapeutic principles, ethics, and other vital aspects of delivering psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.
- Access to Information. Lastly, it’s going to be important to spread awareness around psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Removing the stigma around these compounds that define them as harmful drugs is critical. The public must build trust in the process and understand the safety.
The future of psychedelics is bright, as more studies are taking place — many of which are in advanced phases. Over the next 5-10 years, should these gain approval, the industry could be booming. And if more countries legalize supervised treatments, real results can finally be seen. This should propel psychedelic-assisted treatments into all medical systems, becoming an aid to those in need.