Psychedelic therapy, also known as Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy (PAP), is a psychiatric practice where you ingest a psychedelic substance for your psychotherapeutic treatment. In most cases, psychedelics are used in combination with talk therapy. Currently, there are a lot of psychedelic drugs, capable of altering your consciousness, that are used in clinical as well as non-clinical settings. There are also a lot of studies that are researching the therapeutic purposes of psychedelic drugs.
Some of these drugs come from plants, like ayahuasca, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), peyote, ibogaine, and DMT. There are some drugs that are chemical compounds, including LSD, MDMA, and ketamine. Let’s get into some of these substances and how they can help you:
- Ayahuasca – Originated in South America, this brew can help you with anxiety, depression, and addiction. However, there might be certain side effects, including medication interactions and serotonin syndrome.
- Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) – Taking LSD can result in altered perception, consciousness, and mood. This is why it can be used for treating anxiety and addiction.
- Psilocybin – Psilocybin works similarly to LSD in altering perception, consciousness, and mood. Currently, there are studies conducted to treat anxiety, depression, and addiction.
- Ecstasy (MDMA) – Even though MDMA is not considered to be a classic psychedelic substance, it is known to create ‘psychedelic effects’, such as altered perceptions, feelings of euphoria, increased sociability, and increased arousal. In fact, research has shown that MDMA has therapeutic potential to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
For centuries, Indigenous people have used psychedelics for religious and therapeutic purposes. However, in the Western clinical setting, psychedelic therapy remains relatively new. And, now that certain psychedelic substances have been legalized, it has become even more popular. Psychopharmacological research hasn’t been as popular as one might expect. Combining this with the increase in mental health conditions makes psychedelic therapy an optimal treatment option.
However, it is important to note that psychedelic therapy is still an experimental treatment. So, if you want access to this treatment, you will have to undergo clinical trials. But, before you do that, you should know about the different forms of psychedelic therapies:
- Psychedelics – In this, you will only be provided with a psychedelic drug. There won’t be any additional treatment.
- Drug-assisted therapy – For this form of therapy, you will have to take psychedelics along with the traditional treatment.
- Guided therapy – In this, you will be guided through the psychedelic “high”. The counselor will offer suggestions and help you stay calm.
If you have been considering psychedelic therapy for your treatment, you must know about one of the most popular variations of psychedelic therapy, microdosing. In this, you will be taking small doses of sub-hallucinogenic psychedelic substances. Studies have shown that even low doses of these substances can provide health benefits like decreased depression, increased energy, and enhanced performance. However, more research is required to understand the beneficial effects of microdosing.
How does psychedelic therapy work?
When it comes to mental health conditions, treatment can take weeks, especially if you are opting for only traditional medications. Also, most of these treatments work only as long as you take them. The research done on psychedelic therapy has shown promising improvements in the conditions of mental illness. However, the exact way how these psychedelics work is still unknown. Here are a few theories:
1. Psychedelic experience – Psychedelics have been known to provide intense, meaningful experiences which can cause your belief system and mindset to shift. You might start behaving and thinking differently.
2. Neurotransmitter changes – Mental health drugs work by acting on neurotransmitters directly to alter the mood. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers present in the brain. Some psychedelic drugs act on neurotransmitters to change the behavior of your brain and improve your mood.
Thanks to the excitement around psychedelic therapies, there are a lot of new clinics, therapists, international retreats, and gurus providing the service. If you want to try out psychedelic-assisted treatment, you need to find a professional. One way to do this is by checking the database of accredited therapies. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies maintains this database.
However, you should remember that taking psychedelic substances can make you vulnerable to suggestions and alter your consciousness. Because of this, you might end up getting involved in some unethical or criminal behavior. You also need to note that even though research has shown that psychedelic therapy can help treat a wide range of mental health conditions, the exact mechanisms of action are still being explored. Further research on the same will help scientists understand which drugs are helpful for specific conditions, when you should avoid such treatments, and what doses you should use.