New Association Will Teach Doctors About Psychedelics
For sure, recent headlines charting the progress of the psychedelic revolution are promising, but obstructions to wider acceptance still remain. A majority of healthcare providers (who deal with patients firsthand) remain uneasy when it comes to talking about —much less prescribing— psychedelic-based medicine.
“What good is revolutionary psychedelic medicine if physicians aren’t comfortable talking about them – let alone recommending, or even prescribing them?”
– Psychedelic Medicine Association
The Promise of Results Outweighs Fear
Fortunately, the desire of physicians and therapists to deliver the best results for their patients far outweigh their fears.
Never mind the misjudged ‘War on Drugs’ which lumped psychedelics together with hard drugs like opiates and amphetamines. The future of medicine is now — and its name is magic.
Healthcare providers must bridge the gap between them and the growing field of psychedelic research and advocacy. Don’t we need a duly recognised body to train doctors and therapists for psychedelic-based treatment. Then, moving forward… for them to be able to educate their peers as well, without taboo?
The Psychedelic Medicine Association
Enter the Psychedelic Medicine Association (PMA). A public benefit corporation aimed at physicians, therapists, and other healthcare professionals who desire to learn more about using psychedelics for therapy. Rather, this new association will teach doctors about psychedelics. One of their targets is to give recruiting opportunities for clinical trials, with regular updates to practitioners.
Lynn Marie Morski, MD, President of the newly-formed society, said:
“There are a number of psychedelic medicines that are on their way to FDA approval. But, if the doctors and other front line healthcare providers that patients go to for care don’t know they exist, then they can’t be of any help in healing. This is why it’s crucial that we begin educating those clinicians on what is going on in the psychedelic science world.”
Integration Into Healthcare Systems
But education is just the first step. Getting these psychedelic meds to patients will require getting healthcare providers to cover them. This is already a timeworn challenge in itself.
And since not all psychedelics are legal yet, there is a real, palpable risk of patients losing their benefits…
“This is why we’ve opened up the association to organisations focused on addressing these other concerns. We’ve also invited research organisations and those making and distributing psychedelic medicines to join as well.”
The society aims to untangle this with the release of a book titled “The Legalities Surrounding the Psychedelic Industry”.
Hopefully, that will be a simple guide to help doctors talk confidently to their patients about psychedelic therapy… and the legal quagmires that come along with it.
Status of Psychedelics in Late 2020
The Psychedelic Medicine Association also released an introductory guide to psychedelics, titled ‘Prepare for the Future of Psychedelic Medicine 2020‘. They offer a glimpse at some of the psychedelics that could be available very soon.
Here is their list of psychedelic medicines with their respective current status:
- Ketamine: widely legal for medicinal purposes.
- MDMA: currently in Phase III Trials following breakthrough designation from the FDA.
- Psilocybin: currently in Phase II Trials again having been granted breakthrough designation from the FDA.
The guide further chronicles how these substances were developed, and how their legal status evolved in recent history.
Psychedelic Training Courses
In a bid to provide its practitioners with useful tips for discussing psychedelics with their patients, the PMA’s website offers a host of virtual courses to choose from.
First, physicians and therapists are promised “evidence-based information and observations” from practitioners who administered MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in clinical trials. They will also learn about the basics of psychedelic theory, science, harm reduction, and integration— followed by rigorous clinical application of said topics.
What about clinicians and healthcare providers who wish to be informed by experts about current psychedelic research? Psychologists Ingmar Gorman and Elizabeth Nielson now offer a specialised 2-day training.
The psychologists will also facilitate role plays and give case examples on how to work with patients with a history of psychedelic use (or those simply expressing an interest to try).
Many Courses To Choose From
Here are some other courses offered by the Society:
- “Psychological Approaches to Psychedelic Therapy”, an online reading and study group which meets weekly for 12 weeks. Focuses on academic literature on psychedelics.
- “Psychedelic Integration: Experiential Training Retreat for Clinicians”, a 5-day experiential retreat in Phoenicia, NY, in which therapists ingest psychedelics themselves. This is key training for aspiring trip sitters (in a professional setting).
- “Understanding Ketamine and its Role in Mental Health”, which focuses on ketamine as a highly efficacious treatment for depression and mood disorders… and how therapists & psychologists can use it for patients seeking relief.
- “Understanding Psilocybin: Effects, Neurobiology, and Therapeutic Approaches”, which focuses on psilocybin clinical protocols, study participant accounts, and potential risks in both medical and non-medical settings.
The Importance of Widespread Awareness
Efforts to further awareness of psychedelic-based medicine (such as the Psychedelic Medicine Association’s recent launch) are not only admirable; they are also urgent. In order for doctors and therapists to keep taking care of our needs in the best possible way, first they must keep abreast of the latest trends in modern medicine. Failure to do so will only lead to waste of precious time and resources, which could have been spent on patients’ recovery.
For example, researchers have known for a while now about ketamine as a highly effective treatment for suicidal ideation. However, most primary care providers are still unaware of this fact. The result? An effective tool to combat rising suicide rates is being under-utilised, if at all.
It could be a steep learning curve for older physicians, whose historical context on psilocybin, MDMA, and ketamine may have tainted them as mere “hippie drugs”. However, through the growing stacks of undeniable evidence, even reluctant medical practitioners will surely see the legitimacy of psychedelic research. Plus, when physicians are able to attend experiential retreats, they’ll gain first-hand knowledge of psychedelics. Therefore, prescribing them will no longer be an unknown.
By de-mystifying the world of psychedelic treatment to those who could hold the keys to it in the future, we can all benefit.