What are Psychedelics?
Psychedelics refer to various substances that produce distinctive altered states of consciousness. The effects of psychedelics include changes to thoughts, emotions, and perceptions, distorted sense of time, changes to sense of self, connectedness, sacredness, and an ineffable (i.e., indescribable) quality. Traditional or “classic” psychedelics are serotonergic agonists that include lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), mescaline, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), psilocybin, and the psychedelic brew, Ayahuasca. Other substances with some similar effects are often grouped together with classic psychedelics, including 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and ketamine.
The Psychedelic Renaissance
Since 2010 or so, there has been a growing recognition in mainstream Western culture that psychedelics have a role as potential tools for personal healing and growth. There has been a steep increase in research studies investigating the use of psychedelics for various mental health issues and psychedelics have enjoyed increased popularity in the media, such as through Michael Pollan’s book “How To Change Your Mind.” In 2020, Oregon passed Measure 109, allowing for the public to access psilocybin treatment by 2023. Because of the rapid pace of news and developments, there is a significant amount of information to keep up with. We want to share a range of resources below for those who want to learn more about what’s happening in the world of psychedelics.
Places to learn more about the “Psychedelic Renaissance”:
- The Psychedelic Renaissance: The story of psychedelics is an evolving tale with more twists to come
- How ecstasy and psilocybin are shaking up psychiatry
Portland Psychotherapy and Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy
At Portland Psychotherapy, we’ve been involved in both the scientific research on psychedelics and also provide clinical services related to psychedelics. Some of our work is outlined below:
Our Research on Psychedelics and Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy
- MDMA-Assisted Therapy as a Means to Alter Affective, Cognitive, Behavioral, and Neurological Systems Underlying Social Dysfunction in Social Anxiety Disorder
- Potential Processes of Change in MDMA-Assisted Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder During Acute Dosing: Enhanced Memory Reconsolidation, Self-Transcendence, and Enhanced Therapeutic Relationship
- Attitudes and beliefs about the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs among psychologists in the United States
- Ethical and Legal Issues in Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Integration Therapy
- A Meta-Analysis of Placebo-Controlled Trials of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy
- Integrating contextual behavioral science with research on psychedelic assisted therapy: introduction to the special section
- Toward a contextual psychedelic-assisted therapy: contextual behavioral science and the third wave of psychedelic research
Our Work on Psychedelic Harm Reduction & Integration Services as We Wait for Legalization
- Overview of Research on Psychedelics and Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy
- Risks of Psychedelic Use
- Harm Reduction and Psychedelics
- Harm Reduction and Integration Therapy
- Information for Mental Health Professionals or Students Interested in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy
- Legal Issues and Options for Obtaining Psychedelic Experiences
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Psychedelic Science and Therapy
Major Psychedelic Organizations
There are several major organizations involved in psychedelic research that are important to know about. Many others also exist, but these are currently some of the most influential ones as they are the closest to obtaining FDA approval for psychedelic medicine.
- The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a non-profit dedicated to funding psychedelic research and is responsible for the advancements of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of PTSD. Besides being a primary hub of research, they also disseminate resources like books and articles, and offer training for therapists interested in learning how to provide MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, even though it is not currently available outside of clinical trials.
- Compass Pathways began as a non-profit but more recently has transitioned into a for-profit organization investigating the use of psilocybin-assisted therapy for treatment-resistant depression. Recently Compass has stirred up controversy for attempting to patent the basic components of psychedelic-assisted therapy and seeking to create a monopoly in psychedelic medicine.
- Usona Institute is a non-profit medical research organization dedicated to investigating the potential use of psilocybin and other psychedelics as adjuncts to psychotherapy in the treatment of mental health disorders. Recently, Usona Institute’s psilocybin program for depression made news when they received breakthrough therapy designation by the FDA.