These psychedelic experiences at UW are for therapy | Opinion


They are experimenting with psychedelic drugs again at UW-Madison.

No, we’re not talking about wide-eyed college students in tie-dyed T-shirts walking along Picnic Point whispering “Oh, Wow” as they do their own “independent research” into spiritualism and religion. self-realization. It was in the 60s.

We’re talking about research, rigorously controlled clinical research, with human trials to see if long-banned drugs like psilocybin (magic mushrooms) can be used to treat depression or addiction. UW researchers are testing MDMA (think the club drug known as ecstasy or molly) to see if it can boost psychotherapy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

As editor-in-chief Preston Schmitt reported in the current issue of “On Wisconsin,” the UW alumni magazine, the door was effectively closed on psychedelic research in 1971 when Congress called. passed the Controlled Substances Act, which declared that psilocybin, LSD and later MDMA had “” no currently accepted medical uses and a high potential for abuse.

“It was highly unlikely that the researchers received the necessary federal approvals to pursue such studies,” Schmitt told us, “And in this climate, given the cultural and political backlash, there was little will to do so. “

This head-in-the-sand approach to psychedelic research has gone on for decades.

“This landscape changed abruptly in 2006 when Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins (University) published a new study on psilocybin titled ‘Psilocybin Can Induce Mystical-Type Experiences of Substantial and Enduring Personal and Spiritual Significance’, we Schmitt said. “NYU researchers followed it up with a landmark study of psilocybin to treat anxiety in cancer patients. The floodgates opened, as it was then clear that institutional review boards were willing to approve proposals for rigorous studies with psychedelics (deeming the scientific investigation to be legitimate), and that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) were willing to provide the necessary exemptions for researchers to access drugs.

UW tiptoed back into psychedelic research with a clinical trial eight years ago.

In “On Wisconsin,” Schmitt wrote: “Half a century later (after the Controlled Substances Act was passed), the UW research team is moving forward. This fall, the School of Pharmacy begins classes for its unique master’s program in Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Research. Over the summer, UW launched the Transdisciplinary Center for Substance Abuse Research, with more than a dozen affiliate professors in the humanities and sciences.

And clinical trials of psychedelics at UW and other institutions are showing promise. One such study, co-authored by UW researchers and published in “Nature Medicine” last spring “reported that 67% of participants who received MDMA in three therapy sessions are no longer qualified. for a diagnosis of PTSD after 18 weeks, versus 32% who received placebo with therapy. In the MDMA group, 88% of participants experienced a clinically significant reduction in symptoms. “

After decades spent on the sidelines as a research opportunity to gain insight and knowledge, UW is back on track to deliver on its commitment as expressed in the plaque on Bascom Hall as “the great university of The state of Wisconsin should always encourage this continuous and fearless screening and winnowing whereby only the truth can be found.

It is difficult to follow science when there is no scientific research.

As one UW scientist, Professor of Pharmacy Paul Hutson, who has spent much of his three-decade career studying chemotherapy drugs, said in the Alumni Magazine report: “This (the psychedelic research) is going to save lives, quite frankly. “

It is hope. And that’s a good one. We hope science will confirm this.


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