• Alexander Lebedev

Psychedelics or psychedelic-assisted treatments?

Brain Futures (a nonprofit organisation focusing on assessing and advancing practical applications of new scientific understanding of the brain) have recently released a report on current research and challenges in psychedelic-assisted therapy:

The report is a continuation of the previous review of the research happening in the field of medical psychedelics.

The discussion amalgamates interviews and input from 22 experts, including clinical trial investigators, scientists, veteran psychiatrists, psychologists, psychedelic-assisted therapy trainers, as well as key figures at the companies and organisations driving innovation and adoption.

The experts start by recognising that in the current state of psychedelic renaissance, the focus of media attention and research is asymmetrically skewed toward psychopharmacology of psychedelics rather than the therapy accompanying it. The same is definitely true for the amount of capital deployed in the psychedelic space, which, similarly, clearly favours drug development over therapies, clinics and retreats.

This is particularly concerning, given the known demand for staff involved in psychedelic-assisted training, which also represents the lion's share of costs of these treatments. Indeed, there is an understandable pressure to reduce the cost of psychedelic interventions in the light of devastating mental health crisis affecting millions. But is capitalising on drug development instead of therapy is the best way to make it more cost-effective? Will people be provided sufficient preparation and integration? Will they receive enough support in the aftermath of potentially difficult experiences? All these and many other important questions have already been voiced by a number of experts, i