Psychedelics and Addiction Treatment: What the Future May Hold
How clients and professionals alike approach addiction and recovery is constantly evolving. The field is continuously exploring new approaches to aid in addiction recovery — whether it be new ways to treat withdrawal symptoms or new strategies to help maintain one’s sobriety. Psychedelic drugs are one of these developing strategies.
While their general use and application for addiction treatment is still a topic of debate, new methodologies using psychedelic drugs have potential in the field, making their use in addiction treatment a possibility for the future.
The Struggles of Addiction Treatment
Addiction recovery is an incredibly complex process. Whether an individual is in recovery from an addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, or anything else, addictions can ravage an individual’s daily life. It can disrupt relationships, professional ambitions, and one’s physical and mental health. These difficulties can be challenging to articulate to those who have not experienced the intense trials addiction presents.
Addiction is a disease that requires much more than just one’s willpower to overcome. Simply “saying no” to drugs after prolonged and frequent use is not usually possible as an individual is compelled to re-engage with these substances, even when they are aware of the negative, destructive effects to their mind, body, and spirit. The withdrawal symptoms following an addiction can be intense, and developing new coping mechanisms can be difficult, making professional help a necessary part of the addiction recovery process. New ways to aid an individual through the treatment process are always welcome, especially during the infancy of one’s recovery journey as one learns to combat withdrawal symptoms and the urge to re-engage with destructive behaviors.
The Potential of Psychedelics in Treatment
Psychedelic drugs, while carrying risks, have also been studied for their potential beneficial effects. Not all psychedelics are effective in addiction treatment. Instead, much of the discourse surrounding this possible treatment is based on a specific psychedelic: ibogaine. This particular psychedelic has addiction treatment potential due to its low risk of dangerous side effects, ability to aid in quelling cravings, and capacity to help relieve symptoms of depression and withdrawal. Scientists are still conducting tests on the use and effectiveness of ibogaine as a treatment for addiction.
While the use of drugs in addiction treatment may seem counterintuitive, the benefits of relieving these intense withdrawal symptoms during the early stages of one’s recovery cannot be understated. Relapse is a common and ever-present hurdle in addiction recovery. Those individuals just beginning their recovery journeys may not have practiced grounding strategies that work best for them in maintaining their sobriety. Having a safety net while an individual learns new coping strategies, establishes an effective supportive network of family, professionals, and peers, and explores their new identity and daily routine can improve one’s ability to maintain sobriety while acquiring skills and mitigating destructive side-effects in recovery. Relieving these symptoms can create a healthier, more focused approach to the rest of the recovery process.
Approaching Psychedelics in the Right Mindset
One should avoid approaching the potential of psychedelics as a “cure” for addiction or think that they can completely dismiss one’s depression, anxiety, or withdrawal symptoms. Addiction is a disease that takes work to overcome. While psychedelics may provide support while treating addiction symptoms, they can be used in conjunction with other therapies. Overcoming addiction will still require a great deal of change to one’s mentality, environment, and personal goals. Psychedelics are not a replacement for the use of addictive substances but rather a potential tool to support an individual while garnering further recovery skills and strategies during one’s journey. Further, they should only be used as prescribed by a doctor, and their use should be monitored.
Psychedelics may not be appropriate for every individual. Everyone has a unique mentality surrounding the use of psychedelic drugs as part of a treatment plan. While such an approach may be appropriate for some, others may respond negatively to the treatment or feel uncomfortable with their use.
Addiction recovery is a personal journey, and not all approaches work equally for everyone. Likewise, with the ongoing studies of potential long-term effects of the use of psychedelics, others may err on the side of caution when faced with this uncertainty and the knowledge that a successful recovery is still possible without their use. While some may approach psychedelics as a tool in one’s larger recovery strategy, it is also possible that those navigating their sobriety can develop a replacement addiction, compromising one’s recovery and actively creating additional, unnecessary hurdles in one’s treatment. Understanding this side of psychedelics can inform each individual how they believe they can best continue maintaining their sobriety.
The developing studies regarding the use of psychedelics in addiction treatment do seem promising and something that, if further explored, may reshape the landscape of the recovery process. They have the potential to quell urges and aid in establishing emotional stability. However, they are not a requirement, and their implementation will continue to evolve alongside the larger addiction recovery field.
Far From A Cure For Addiction
While psychedelics provide a promising look to the future of addiction treatment, they are not the only pathway to a transformed self in sobriety. Many approaches to recovery and treatment are available for you or a loved one.
At The Edge Treatment Center, we understand the unique approach needed to address the complex effects of addiction in your life and are prepared to personalize a plan to meet you where you are in the recovery process. For more information, call to speak to a caring, trained staff member today.