For many of us, the words MDMA, ketamine and magic mushrooms mean party drugs, illicit substances or a throwback to the swinging sixties.
But these stereotypes mask the truth: pychedelic drugs are on their way to becoming official treatments for mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, addiction, and anxiety.
In January 2021, the UK’s first medical psychedelic clinic is due to open in Bristol, run by Awakn – an organisation working to integrate psychedelic medicine into mainstream mental healthcare. The clinic will offer ketamine-assisted psychedelic psychotherapy, which is legal as ketamine is medically licensed as an anaesthetic.
Alongside that service (which has the capacity to treat 30-40 people each month), the clinic will offer training for psychedelic therapists and undertake psychedelic research into MDMA and psilocybin (the psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms), which are not currently legal for use in psychotherapy.
Meanwhile, on December 17, Britain’s first psychedelic healthcare fund launched by venture capitalist Neo Kuma Ventures. The fund has already attracted millions of pounds in investment into psychedelic medicines to treat unmet needs in mental healthcare.
Interest in psychedelic healthcare is growing globally, particularly in the US. In November 2020, the state of Oregon voted to legalise psilocybin for therapeutic use, kickstarting a two-year process of working out protocols for offering psychedelic psychotherapy as a mainstream treatment by 2022. It also separately voted to decriminalise possession of small amounts of all drugs.
‘While we’ve done much of the research into psychedelic psychotherapy in Britain, the US is clearly ahead of us,’ says David Nutt, Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London and the UK’s leading voice on drug reform.
‘They’re also way ahead of us with cannabis.
‘While in the UK the government controls everything, America’s devolved healthcare means that the liberated, sensible states can vote for these changes.’
The concept of psychedelic drugs being used to treat mental health conditions hasn’t yet entered mainstream consciousness, but the evidence for its benefits is striking. A study by Dr Ben Sessa, who leads the scientific team at the new Awakn clinic alongside Professor Nutt, found that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is hugely effective in treating alcohol addiction, so often rooted in past trauma.
MDMA and psilocybin are illegal, schedule 1 substances, meaning that a Home Office licence is required for their production, possession or supply. While this complicates research projects in this field, it’s legal to use these drugs in clinical trials, despite them being illegal to prescribe outside of a trial and for recreational use…
To read the full article, read the original post on psychedelic drugs as treatment for mental illness on the Metro website.