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Medical or Therapeutic Psychedelics Industry in 2023

When psychedelic drugs were first introduced by the scientific community as an alternative treatment for several mental illnesses, the general populace around the world viewed them apprehensively. In fact, many doctors within the scientific community were skeptical about the efficacy and ethical issues that surrounded the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs. But times are changing now. The use of psychedelic drugs as a vital therapeutic medicine to manage mental health disorders is gradually gaining public acceptance. Once vilified and scorned, people are now becoming more open to treatments that use these drugs. Psychedelics like ketamine, LSD, and psilocybin are now being used to treat anxiety, depression, and PTSD in patients who have failed to respond to standard therapies.

Recent developments in the therapeutic psychedelic industry

COMPASS Pathways, a mental health care company, released a report in 2021 about the largest-ever clinical study on the effects of psilocybin. The study involved 233 people, and it was discovered that one dose of the drug, when combined with psychological help, significantly lowered the symptoms of depressive disorders. This study was a Phase 2 clinical trial, and there are more than 80 Phase 2 psychedelic drug trials now underway worldwide. The study on MDMA for the treatment of PTSD has reached Phase 3.

COMPASS Pathways anticipates receiving regulatory approval by 2023 in America and by 2024 in Europe. This will significantly improve the conditions of research and yield more positive results in the field of psychedelic medicine.

An increasing number of investors are also attempting to build enterprises with promising scientific and financial prospects in the psychedelic drug industry. This has placed the current market value of developers at around 10 billion USD. Experts believe that the value of the psychedelic healthcare sector will cross 2.4 billion USD by 2026. Studies also indicate that by 2027, the psychedelic drug industry will see a growth of 16.3%. These forecasts were centered on the efficacy of ketamine, MDMA, and psilocybin-assisted therapies, where the drugs are either currently being used in therapy or are almost ready for approval.

Growth of medical psychedelics

Many US cities and states are becoming interested in decriminalizing or legalizing psychedelic drugs like LSD, MDMA, and psilocybin. Oregon became the first state to take steps toward the legalization of the medical use of such drugs when it passed Oregon Ballot Measure 109 in 2020. Now the FDA is also expressing its interest in giving approval to several psychedelic medications. The FDA recognized psilocybin’s potential as a mental health support and safety record in 2019, naming it a “breakthrough therapy.” All this has become possible due to the mounting clinical evidence showing significant improvements in the mental health of people upon using psychedelic drugs compared to other conventional forms of therapy.

A lot of interest from the side of investors is due to the cost factor associated with the conventional treatment methods for the two most common mental health issues, namely depression and anxiety. According to the United Nations Secretary-General, the treatment of these two diseases costs around 1 trillion USD, which is borne by the world economy. But the increased efficiency of psychedelic drugs is expected to decrease this amount significantly, reducing the economic burden on economies worldwide.

Elliot Marseille, Director of GIPSE, gave a presentation at a psychedelic conference in New York. In his presentation, he discussed studies that indicated that over the next 10 years, treatments using psychedelic drugs may save insurers between $39.5 million and $46.7 million USD for every 1,000 patients.

All these monetary benefits will attract more investors into the psychedelic drug sector, which will further aid the exponential growth of the industry in the coming few years.

MDMA, psylobycin, and ketamine

Since the FDA recognized MDMA-assisted therapies as “breakthrough therapies,” the drug is now available for the treatment of patients. Revenue increases from therapist training and therapy have been predicted to be around $7 billion USD between 2023 and 2029. Similarly, ketamine-assisted treatment is predicted to rule the psychedelic healthcare industry until 2025.

David Wood, the general counsel at Psygen Industries Inc., a psychedelic pharmaceutical manufacturer in Calgary, Canada, is optimistic about the bright future of the psychedelic drug industry. He believes that when it becomes legal in North America to prescribe MDMA for medical purposes, the healthcare industry, especially mental health care, will be revolutionized. He believes that this is all set to happen by 2023 or 2024. Furthermore, he also expressed his optimism that the acceptance of such therapies will also skyrocket. This will lead to a new era in the history of medical science.

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Psychedelics and Childhood Trauma

It is quite common and natural for kids to get exposed to some adverse events as they grow up. Some obvious ones include natural calamities, minor accidents, or the deaths of pets or loved ones. But sometimes certain severe traumatic events can happen, like sexual abuse or parental neglect, that can affect the child’s sense of well-being and safety. For some kids, something like experiencing a vehicle accident or hearing their parents argue frequently can be traumatizing. Not all trauma can be considered the same. Something that feels traumatic for one child may feel completely normal or easily addressed for another kid. This makes addressing childhood trauma a very delicate and critical issue.

Some scenarios that can cause childhood trauma include:

  • Bullying or cyberbullying
  • Accidents
  • Instability or disorder at home
  • Physical neglect or abuse
  • Emotional neglect or abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Separation from caregivers
  • Loss of loved ones
  • Serious and/or sudden health issues
  • Violence at school, home, or in their neighborhood
  • Poverty-related stress
  • Terrorism and war

PTSD and childhood trauma

Traumatic events in childhood can elicit a variety of reactions. For some, it can cause PTSD, but it is crucial to emphasize that not all traumatic experiences ultimately result in PTSD. A person’s likelihood of developing PTSD is significantly influenced by the length and perceived intensity of the said trauma. It is also influenced by other protective factors, like the presence of supportive and safe environments.

However, it is important to note that any individual who has suffered trauma can develop PTSD. It can be either a single significant event or a sequence of traumatic incidents, and both can have severe ramifications throughout adulthood.

Psychedelics and treatment of childhood trauma

With the introduction of psychedelics into the field of psychiatry, numerous studies have been conducted into the efficacy of psychedelic drugs in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. The positive effects of these drugs in treating individuals with severe mental health issues like anxiety and depression are widely discussed and acknowledged. This has paved the way for conducting studies that examine the relationship between the treatment of childhood trauma and psychedelic drugs.

Psychedelic drugs are already considered an effective healing method for PTSD patients. Now, this is being extrapolated by researchers to understand how they could help heal childhood trauma using psychedelics.

According to a study published in the journal Chronic Stress, adults who have experienced maltreatment in their childhood have lower levels of guilt and more complicated trauma symptoms when psychedelics are used in therapy. The study, conducted by C. J. Healy, Kellie Ann Lee, and Wendy D’Andrea, surveyed 166 people who had experienced some form of maltreatment during their childhood years. They were asked to answer a variety of in-depth questions that examined several variables, including:

  • measures of the severity and exposure of maltreatment
  • history of deliberate medicinal psychedelic use
  • internalized shame
  • any PTSD symptoms

About one-third of the respondents had experimented with some form of a psychedelic drug, including MDMA, LSD, and psilocybin, to address childhood trauma in a curative setting. These same individuals also reported considerably reduced levels of guilt, shame, suicidal thoughts, and similar other signs of complicated trauma. This clearly indicated that psychedelics can be used as a form of alternative treatment for childhood trauma.

Why is childhood trauma serious?

According to physicians, childhood trauma causes more long-term damage to the psyche and development of the person than it causes severe pain at the time it is inflicted. It can affect the way a child interprets the world around them and their place in it. It can also create feelings of intense shame. This is caused by the inability of the child to accept themselves as they are due to a distorted and negative self-perception. It can also lead to numerous other serious issues like depression, addiction, and even suicidal ideation or attempts.

Reasons for the effectiveness of psychedelic drugs

Psychedelic drugs help an individual temporarily lose their subjective personal character or identity. This is referred to as “ego death.” This makes the vast majority of individuals who use psychedelic drugs therapeutically feel happier. They even feel better and more confident about themselves. This makes them more open to new approaches and techniques for examining novel strategies for overcoming past trauma. In many cases, psychedelic drugs give these people hope and the desire to alter their future. It also gives them the courage to get past the traumatic events of their childhood and build a life not impacted by them.

While new studies are certainly promising, more research is needed to use psychedelic drugs to treat childhood trauma at its root.