Some studies of ketamine and drug addiction, however, suggest that its antidepressant effect wears off over time and participants may need repeat infusions. This is a potential problem because the drug itself has the potential to become a drug of abuse and overdoses can, in rare cases, be fatal.
Researchers enthusiastic about psilocybin say that its longer, more intense psychedelic experience makes it a longer-lasting therapy. It usually only requires a single session or sometimes several sessions to be effective, provided it is integrated with psychotherapy or some other form of counselling.
“People have greater mental flexibility after psilocybin,” said Matthew Johnson, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins who is leading the smoking trial. “This increase in openness could be a permanent change that can help overcome addiction.”
An uncertain future
Although psilocybin remains illegal under federal drug laws, some cities, including Denver and Santa Cruz, California, have decriminalized it. Oregon in November 2020 voted to become the first state to legalize it for medical purposes.
Psilocybin is considered safer than ketamine and non-habit forming, but it does have its downsides. The greatest risks may come from someone using the drug alone and wandering into traffic or other dangerous situations while high. Even in the supervised setting of a research lab, users often experience side effects, such as vomiting or loss of coordination, and the trip itself can produce anxiety, pain, or even a seizure. psychotic.
“One of the big challenges with these treatments is that the effects are somewhat unpredictable,” Dr. Bogenschutz said.
The California Institute of Integral Studies is one of the best-known organizations offering a certificate program to train future therapists working with psychedelics, but since psilocybin-assisted therapy remains illegal, an underground treatment market has emerged. in all the countries.