At the start of the summit, which will take place October 25 l February 2021, Liana Gillooly, development officer of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), said her organization’s goal is to address the root cause of trauma, which she said is not being addressed by the pharmaceutical industry. The vast majority of people who currently use psychedelics do so in clinical, therapeutic or ceremonial settings.
In the medical field, MAPS focuses on MDMA-assisted therapy to combat post-traumatic stress disorder, which affects more than 350 million people worldwide. However, two-thirds of these people do not respond adequately to available treatments.
Since 1999, suicide rates in the United States have increased by 24% and psychiatric drug spending has soared from $13 billion to more than $50 billion over the same period. It is clear that there are serious flaws in the way the pharmaceutical industry understands and treats mental disorders, Gillooly said.
COVID-19 has added to this challenge. The rate of depression and suicidal thoughts tripled, and more than half of Americans said the pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health.
Ketamine has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1970 and promises to treat depression in conjunction with therapy sessions. However, the Janssen pharmaceutical company believes that additional therapy is an expensive barrier to commercialization, Gillooly said: Instead, a company is charging $800 per dose for a drug that has been around for decades and costs suppliers less than $3 per dose.
Dr. Michael Verbora is the medical director of Field Trip Health, an organization that seeks to distance itself from the current approach to mental illness, which consists of daily medication, a passive attitude of waiting for results, and minimal psychotherapy.
Verbora said each clinic that does psychotherapy with ketamine gives 5 or 6 people the drug without therapy: I am sure that despite discovering that this drug has an antidepressant effect, people are becoming more and more dependent on it.
Dr. Matthew Johnson, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University, believes that psychedelics work better than traditional antidepressants because they involve a dramatic experience that takes people out of their narrative and allows them to open a window of flexibility in which they let go of the mental models we use to organize reality.
In a study with psilocybin, Johnson said the dimension of personality openness increased. This is interesting because, by definition, the personal dimension should not change. It should be a line.
It was the result of a mystical experience. The idea was first reported, mainly outside of drug use, in the 1800s. Described as a feeling of oneness, an overall positive vibration and a sense of transcending time and space.
Although ketamine, MDMA and psilocybin have historically been demonized, their harms and risks are not as severe as those of tobacco and alcohol, Verbora said. The political regulation of these drugs does not reflect the reality of the harm done to individuals and their families.
Davis (bottom right) in psychedelic use: Our parents always said to us when we were kids: Don’t take these things, you’ll never be the same. And of course they didn’t realize that in a way that was the point.
Oddly, the one ingredient in this recipe for social change that is consistently overlooked is the fact that tens of millions of us find ourselves on the verge of horror after taking a psychedelic, says Wade Davies, a professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia.
Timothy Ko is the CEO of Entheon Biomedical, a company that specializes in using DMT to treat addiction. When Ko’s brother died of a fentanyl overdose in March 2019, after his family spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to help his brother, Ko said the experience opened his eyes to the limitations of addiction treatment in modern medicine.
Ko said he saw the value of psychedelics. To provide it to those who need it most, it must be validated in a clinical setting. So it can be put to the regulators and they have no choice but to look at things objectively.
When we talk about training and deploying this kind of new research, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to get clinicians ready to use this research in a really thoughtful and informed way, said Kelsey Ramsden, CEO of Mind Cure.
One of the things I’m most excited about is that this movement will change the whole conversation about how we think about humanity and health, says Ronan Levy, founder of Health on the Journey.
Levy believes that the medicalization and legalization of psychedelics are complementary. With a medical approach, people who have been diagnosed as ill will have access to medical care, and with legalization, people can get many benefits from psychedelic therapy in a controlled environment under professional supervision.
About the stigma attached to psychedelics in the past, Davis said: Our parents always told us as kids that if we didn’t take these things, we would never be the same. And of course they didn’t realize that in a way that was the point.
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