Psychedelic drugs were outlawed decades ago, which removed a lot of powerful substances from the street but also effectively blocked the potential to study the good in some of those drugs.
Times have changed, and the scientific community is revisiting psychedelic drugs with a new perspective and a purposeful goal: discovering their healing properties and benefits for mental health disorders.
One of the leading advocates for therapeutic psychedelic drugs is Karen Giles, MD, at Breakthru Psychiatric Solutions in Sandy Springs, Georgia. Dr. Giles is currently completing a year-long training in the therapeutic use of psychedelics in order to be fully prepared when they are legalized for medicinal use. Here, she explains the background and current research surrounding FDA-approved psychedelics and their promising role in mental health treatments.
Across the United States, medical centers are investigating the safety and efficacy of psychedelic drug treatments. The main substances under investigation include psilocybin, MDMA, LSD, and ketamine, and the aim is to determine whether these drugs can provide benefits for people dealing with treatment-resistant conditions, such as depression, PTSD, and anxiety. They’re also determining whether addiction, smoking, eating disorders, grief, cluster headaches, and burnout among healthcare workers may be addressed using these same drugs.
Once categorized as Schedule I drugs in the 1970s — making them illegal even for research — the medical community and the public viewed psychedelics skeptically.
However, there’s been a change in perception in recent years with increased acceptance of nontraditional healing practices prompting a re-evaluation of psychedelics.
Conventional drug treatments and therapy don't always yield effective results for people suffering from severe mental disorders — thus, the surge of clinical research involving psychedelics. Here are the top psychedelic contenders under consideration.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a variant of ketamine, known as esketamine (Spravato®), in 2019 to treat treatment-resistant depression, marking a significant milestone in the acceptance of psychedelics in mainstream medicine.
The FDA is currently evaluating psilocybin, a compound found in “magic mushrooms,” for its potential in treating major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression. Preliminary studies have shown promising results, with some patients reporting long-term relief from symptoms after just one or two doses.
MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, is also under investigation for its potential therapeutic use.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) conducted two Phase 3 trials using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, and the results are promising. The trial showed that 88% of PTSD patients experienced significantly fewer symptoms after three MDMA sessions over two months, and 67% no longer met the criteria for PTSD after their treatment.
Dr. Giles is hopeful MDMA will receive FDA-approval in 2024.
LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, is another psychedelic studied for potential therapeutic benefits. Research is still in the early stages, but there's hope that LSD could treat anxiety, depression, and certain types of pain.
Although there’s much to learn about how and why psychedelics work, experts believe they
Though Georgia has not yet legalized the medical use of psychedelics other than ketamine, progressive measures have been introduced in states like Oregon and Colorado, permitting the therapeutic use of psilocybin, and other states are considering similar steps. This progress indicates a positive trend toward adopting unconventional yet potentially powerful treatments to enhance mental health.
Dr. Giles is at the forefront of this issue and wants to ensure you have access to the most current information on these developments. We must continue to broaden our horizons regarding treatment options, prioritizing patient safety and well-being.
This emerging field of research carries immense potential for the future of mental health treatment. Call Breakthru Psychological Solutions in Sandy Springs, Georgia, or request an appointment online for updates as more studies and results become available.