The future is bright; its colours, sights and sounds more vibrant and steeped in a better understanding of our consciousness and it’s brought to you by the wonders of psychedelic science. It is a field of study with a storied history that is experiencing a renascence as countries around the world and their governments begin to open their minds.
For those who have experienced the wonders of psychedelics, the benefits they can offer are clear. It’s easy to explain that elated sense of being and self to someone who is already an enthusiast, but for the rest of the world science is the key. That is why researchers in this field want to bring science and psychedelics together, as they once were, and in the past several years they have done just that.
Within the US the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is on the verge of receiving FDA approval of its MDMA-assisted therapy for patients with PTSD.
A year ago MAPS wrapped up six trails conducted in the US, Israel, Switzerland and Canada in which treatment resistant PTSD was treated with MDMA inspired therapy.
It’s proven to be an immensely effective form of treatment which is on track for wide-scale approval by 2021. The latest study, which included 107 participants, found that 66 percent of patients no longer qualified for PTSD after just two sessions. In their previous study that number was 83 percent.
The success of these trials has launched MAPS into the final phase of FDA approval in which they will continue their clinical trials as well as provide training for up to 100 therapists to be certified in administering MDMA-assisted therapy.
Brad Burge, Director of Strategic Communications for MAPS, insists that the FDA and even the DEA have been extremely cooperative with their studies. He’s seen a great reception for these alternative therapies from the scientific community and their patients and expects greater acceptance as the studies continue.
“I think that the momentum is strong enough and the need for alternatives is great enough that any sort of counter marketing that big pharmaceuticals would do would probably only make what we’re doing more popular.” Says Burge.
As with anything, there are also potential risks, but Burge notes that a large part of the government’s acceptance of their studies has come from the careful procedures and practices they’ve adopted. Safe storage, in house administration of drugs and most of all an openness in communication with the patient.
“As far as any sort of addictive potential,” Brad says, “there is zero evidence that a couple of administrations of MDMA in a therapeutic setting will lead to any form of dependence.”
Of the 107 patients that have been treated by MAPS, only a couple have sought out the substance outside of their scheduled therapies, those patients were compelled by the results MDMA provided yet they later admitted – as Burge also insists – that the therapy is a crucial element.
As a result of such studies, MDMA is likely to go the way of marijuana, in that its medicinal usefulness will eventually lead to widespread acceptance.
But one psychedelic which still has a long way to go in quelling the public stigma is ironically one which could also do a lot to ease people’s fears: LSD. Widely unknown to the public, the experience of LSD is often thought of as a hallucination-inducing brain-melter. Even film portrayals of acid trips have had a difficult time capturing the true experience.
Among those who have taken the substance, it is often thought to have a positive transformational effect in their lives, especially when — as with MDMA — it is administered properly and in a comfortable environment. Yet the difficulty in conveying the experience has made LSD one of the most feared drugs in the world.