A new movement is underway in mental health. Psychedelic-assisted therapy gives people who are suffering from anxiety and depression the tools they need to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. It is giving people their lives back.
In the 1950s, psychedelic-assisted therapy was all the rage. LSD and psilocybin were being used to treat alcoholism, schizophrenia, depression, and many more mental illnesses. Unfortunately, psychedelics fell out of favor as governments regulated them more and deemed them more as drugs than therapeutic forms.
Now, more than 60 years later, we’re seeing a huge comeback in psychedelic-assisted therapy. New laws are being set in place to help people who are suffering treat conditions with psychedelics. While many of these psychedelic drugs (LSD, psilocybin, etc.) are still illegal, we are beginning to see the tide shift a bit with various trials being held.
Read on to learn more about what psychedelic-assisted therapy is and when psychedelics can be used as a legitimate therapy.
What Is Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy?
Psychedelic drugs like ayahuasca come from a history of holistic or spiritual practices for thousands of years. Fast forward to today and we are only now introducing these psychedelic drugs into the fold.
Rather than going the traditional route, psychedelic-assisted therapy is where a practitioner will use psychedelic drugs to treat common mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and addiction.
Under the proper guidance and supervision, many of these psychedelic drugs like psilocybin are helping and healing people with their psychological and behavioral challenges.
The Therapy Is Part of the Treatment
You’ve become accustomed to taking a pill to cure the common cold or headache. You check the dosage, grab a glass of water, swallow the pill, and go on about your day.
Psychedelic-assisted therapy works differently. You’ll need to undergo therapy before, during, and after the dosing.
Set and Setting
Something you’ll often see with psychedelic drug therapy is “set and setting.” “Set” is your mental state going into the psychedelic dosing for that day. “Setting” is the space, people, and environment when you take your dose for that day.
This is why psychedelic-assisted therapy is beneficial. You need to understand that you need to treat these psychedelic drugs with respect. While they have healing properties, they are also very powerful.
Some sessions may stir up “negative” emotions that you’ll need to work through. These sessions can be emotional, intense, and scary. Talk therapy beforehand (6-8 hours) can be super helpful to talk through mental health issues and what to expect going forward in the dosing process.
A dosing session would involve an extended period (~8 hours) with a psychotherapist in the room with you. This provides you with the utmost safety and support in a nurturing “setting.”
Because these psychedelic drugs have an extensive history of misuse and self-medication, going through psychedelic-assisted therapy is a much safer and sounder experience.
Types of Psychedelic Therapy
Much like traditional therapy with prescribed drugs, there is no one size fits with psychedelic-assisted therapy and psychedelic drugs. Let’s look at some of the more common psychedelic drugs.
Ayahuasca is a popular brew originating from South America. The drug assists with addiction, anxiety, and depression.
LSD helps with addiction and anxiety. Under the proper dosage, you will experience an altered state of consciousness, mood, and perception.
Psilocybin has risen in popularity in recent memory. These “magic mushrooms” are known to alter your consciousness, mood, and perceptions too. Many report psilocybin as beneficial in treating addiction, anxiety, and depression.
MDMA isn’t a classic psychedelic drug. Patients can receive the right treatment with MDMA-assisted therapy, especially for PTSD.
Known feelings include euphoria, arousal, sociability, and altered perceptions.
Ketamine is sometimes called a “dissociative anesthetic” due to its hallucinogenic properties. Ketamine benefits include feeling detached from certain feelings like pain and your surroundings too.
Each practitioner will have their own set of techniques for guiding you through psychedelic-assisted therapy. With that said, there are a few commonalities like receiving a low to moderate dose, supervision, and one to two weeks between sessions.
You want to make sure you are comfortable with your therapist. Each individual is unique, and these psychotherapy sessions are meant to help you find meaning in the experience.
Microdosing is where you take a small amount (sub-hallucinogenic) over some time. These small doses are known to treat anxiety, and depression, with an enhancement of performance and an increase in energy.
What Psychedelic Therapy Can Help With
Psychedelic drugs are a much different approach to therapy. While they both aim to alleviate mental health issues, psychedelic drugs work to alter neural circuits and patterns. The benefits of working with serotonin are introspective, spiritual experiences, relaxation, well-being, and socialization.
It may take some time to get used to psychedelic drugs since they are known to alter time, distort reality, trigger emotional responses, and heighten senses.
Anxiety and Mood Disorders
Anxiety and mood disorders like depression have the potential to be alleviated with the use of psychedelic drugs. Specifically, psilocybin through microdosing and psychedelic-assisted therapy can help with mental issues such as optimism and mortality.
You may also experience an increase in the quality of your life and your overall optimism. Every individual is different, but you may see signs of improvement in as little as six months.
Your mood and feelings of being socially connected are other symptoms you may see. Even after psychedelic drugs have worn off, these positive traits have been known to continue.
Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders
Alcoholism is an unfortunately all too common disease. Psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin could help certain substance and addiction conditions. These include reducing alcohol cravings, decreasing drinks, and increasing abstinence.
Even if psychedelic-assisted therapy helps change the pattern of alcohol use, that is a win. Before you know it, you may put down the bottle for good.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
MDMA-assisted therapy is a possible solution for patients who suffer from PTSD. The benefits seem to be long-lasting even after a year of treatment.
How It’s Done
If you decide to the psychedelic-assisted therapy route, you’ll want to be aware of a few things beforehand. Each practitioner will vary in terms of things like treatment effectiveness, doses, number of treatments, and their approach.
Let’s touch on how this mental health care is performed.
You’ll first have a prep consultation. This way you can ensure there are no contradictions with the treatment. We also suggest you talk about your goals and concerns you have surrounding psychedelic-assisted therapy.
Through the supervision of a trained therapist, you’ll then ingest the substance. This will be done either orally or through an injection.
You’ll undergo multiple sessions. The length will depend on what type of psychedelic drug you are talking about. For example, MDMA will take at least 3 sessions, ketamine-assisted therapy will take between 1-12 sessions, and psilocybin and LSD take at least 2 sessions.
The last phase of psychedelic-assisted therapy is integration. This is where the therapist and client discuss the meaning behind psychedelic experiences.
If you were to take psychedelic drugs on your own or with friends, you may overheat and pass out. For example, doing MDMA in a club setting isn’t the safest for your mind and body. You don’t want to risk becoming triggered and experiencing something unpleasant without the proper support.
A controlled setting in psychedelic-assisted therapy will help you cut down on these potential risks. This is why set and setting are as important as safety.
How to Get Started with Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy
If you suffer from any mental health issues and would prefer a more natural approach, you will want to consider psychedelic-assisted therapy. This breakthrough therapy will have your life headed in the direction you desire. Notice how different you’ll feel as the anxiety melts away.
It’s beautiful that we have these alternatives today. With time, we think these psychedelic drugs will become more mainstream in helping people in need.
It’s exciting to see what’s to come in this exciting new drug department. Who knows what mental discoveries we’ll unlock? It is truly an exciting time to be alive in the age of psychedelic drugs.