This article on Epainassist.com has been reviewed by a medical professional, as well as checked for facts, to assure the readers the best possible accuracy.

We follow a strict editorial policy and we have a zero-tolerance policy regarding any level of plagiarism. Our articles are resourced from reputable online pages. This article may contains scientific references. The numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.

The feedback link “Was this Article Helpful” on this page can be used to report content that is not accurate, up-to-date or questionable in any manner.

This article does not provide medical advice.


The Potential Benefits of Psychedelics for Addiction Treatment: A Review of Evidence

  1. Introduction

    1. Definition of Psychedelics

      Psychedelics are a category of psychoactive drugs that can have profound effects on a person’s state of mind and awareness. LSD, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), ayahuasca, and MDMA are all examples of popular hallucinogens. Psychedelics have a long history of religious and therapeutic use across many civilizations.

    2. Overview of Addiction and Current Treatments

      Compulsive drug seeking and usage despite negative consequences characterizes those who suffer from addiction, a chronic brain disorder. Addiction medication includes methadone and buprenorphine for opioid addiction and naltrexone for alcoholism, while behavioral therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing are also used.

    3. Purpose and Significance of the Article

      In this article, we will address the possible benefits of psychedelics for addiction treatment, review the available evidence on their use, and then look at some of the problems and future options for this type of treatment.

  2. Literature Review

    1. Current Research On The Use Of Psychedelics In Addiction Treatment

      Using psychedelics to treat addiction has been found to be effective in several recent trials. A study conducted in 2017 indicated that 80% of long-term smokers who used psilocybin-assisted therapy were smoke-free six months following treatment (Johnson et al., 2017). Ayahuasca-assisted therapy was also beneficial in reducing cravings and elevating mood in a separate trial of people with substance use problems (Rush et al., 2021).

      Unfortunately, these studies suffer from flaws like inadequate controls and small sample numbers. Further research is needed to assess the usefulness of psychedelics in treating various types of addiction, as most of the studies have focused on the use of psychedelics for treating addiction to specific substances like nicotine and alcohol.

    2. Discussion of the Potential Benefits of Using Psychedelics in Addiction Treatment

      One potential benefit of using psychedelics in addiction treatment is that they can help individuals gain new perspectives and insights into their behavior and addiction. They can also facilitate emotional processing and help individuals confront and overcome underlying psychological issues that may be contributing to their addiction.

      Psychedelics can also increase feelings of empathy and connection, which can be particularly helpful for individuals struggling with addiction who may feel isolated and disconnected from others. Additionally, psychedelics can have lasting effects on the brain and may help to reset neural pathways that have been altered by addiction.

      However, there are also potential risks associated with using psychedelics in addiction treatment, including the potential for adverse reactions and the possibility of triggering a psychotic episode in individuals with a history of mental illness. Additionally, the use of psychedelics in addiction treatment is not yet widely accepted in mainstream medicine and may face legal and regulatory barriers.

  3. Mechanisms of Action

    1. Overview of How Psychedelic Substances Work In The Brain

      Psychedelic substances such as psilocybin, LSD, and ayahuasca are known to have profound effects on perception, mood, and consciousness. These substances interact with serotonin receptors in the brain, particularly the 5-HT2A receptor, which is involved in mood regulation and cognitive processing. Psychedelics also modulate activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in decision-making and self-control, and in the default mode network, which is involved in self-referential thinking and mind-wandering.

    2. Analysis of How This Mechanism Could Help Addiction

      The mechanisms of action of psychedelics make them a potentially useful tool for treating addiction. Addiction is characterized by negative emotional states like anxiety and depression, as well as obsessive drug seeking and use. Psychedelics have been shown to induce profound changes in mood, perception, and cognition that can help to break the cycle of addiction.

      One possible way that psychedelics could help addiction is by disrupting maladaptive patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug use. Psychedelics’ ability to induce an altered state of consciousness has been used to great effect in the study of human behavior and motivation. Increased introspection and understanding of one’s own shortcomings might pave the way for lasting behavioral shifts.

      Another way that psychedelics could help addiction is by modulating emotional processing. Anxiety and depression are common companions to addiction and may play a role in the initiation or maintenance of drug use. Psychedelics have been shown to induce positive emotional states such as awe, bliss, and transcendence, which can help to counteract negative affective states and promote feelings of well-being.

    3. Discussion of Potential Risks and Benefits of Psychedelic Treatments

      While psychedelics show promise as a treatment for addiction, there are also potential risks associated with their use. Psychedelics can induce powerful and sometimes overwhelming experiences that may be difficult for some individuals to integrate into their lives. In addition, psychedelics can increase heart rate and blood pressure, which can be problematic for individuals with cardiovascular issues.

      However, the benefits of psychedelic treatments for addiction may outweigh the risks for some individuals. Studies have shown that psychedelic treatments can produce long-lasting changes in behavior and mood (Teixeira et al., 2022), even after just one or two sessions. In addition, psychedelic treatments have been shown to be well-tolerated by most individuals when administered in a controlled setting under the supervision of a trained healthcare professional.

  4. Clinical Applications

    1. Overview of Current Clinical Trials and Studies On Psychedelic Treatments For Addiction

      There is growing interest in the use of psychedelics as a treatment for addiction, and several clinical trials and studies are currently underway. One of the most promising areas of research is the use of psilocybin-assisted therapy for the treatment of tobacco and alcohol addiction. A recent pilot study found that a single dose of psilocybin produced significant reductions in tobacco and alcohol use, as well as improvements in mood and quality of life (Jensen et al., 2022).

      Other studies have explored the use of ayahuasca-assisted therapy for the treatment of cocaine and opioid addiction. A recent study found that ayahuasca produced significant reductions in cocaine craving and withdrawal symptoms, as well as improvements in mood and quality of life (Hamill et al., 2019). Another study found that ayahuasca produced significant reductions in opioid withdrawal symptoms, as well as improvements in mood and quality of life (Mendes et al., 2022).

    2. Discussion of Outcomes and Effectiveness of these Studies

      The outcomes of clinical trials and studies on psychedelic treatments for addiction have been largely positive. Studies have consistently shown that psychedelic treatments can produce significant reductions in drug use and craving, as well as improvements in mood and quality of life (Ziff et al., 2022). These effects have been observed in both short-term and long-term follow-up periods, indicating that psychedelic treatments may have lasting benefits for individuals struggling with addiction.

    3. Implications for Future Clinical Applications

      The promising outcomes of clinical trials and studies on psychedelic treatments for addiction have important implications for future clinical applications. Evidence to date suggests that psychedelic treatments could be useful in the fight against addiction, but more study is needed to fully understand the potential advantages and hazards of these treatments.

      One of the key challenges in developing psychedelic treatments for addiction is ensuring that they are administered safely and effectively. This requires a thorough understanding of the mechanisms of action of these substances, as well as careful attention to dosage, setting, and patient selection. However, with the right protocols in place, psychedelic treatments could offer a new and effective approach to treating addiction.

  5. Challenges and Limitations

    1. Discussion of Ethical Considerations And Safety Concerns

      One of the primary concerns with using psychedelics in a therapeutic context is ensuring the safety of the patient. Psychedelics can induce intense psychological experiences, which can be difficult to manage without proper support and guidance. Additionally, the use of psychedelics raises ethical concerns regarding the nature of the experience itself and the potential for exploitation. It is important that any psychedelic-assisted therapy is conducted in a safe, controlled environment by experienced professionals who are properly trained to manage any adverse effects.

    2. Analysis of Regulatory Challenges and Barriers To Implementation

      The regulatory landscape surrounding the use of psychedelics in a therapeutic context is complex and varies by country and jurisdiction. Psychedelics have a high potential for misuse and no recognized medicinal value, according to the research released in 2015, hence they are classed as Schedule I substances (Tupper et al., 2015). This classification makes it difficult for researchers to conduct studies and for clinicians to prescribe psychedelics as a treatment. However, recent changes in policy and public opinion have led to increased interest in the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelics and a reevaluation of their legal status.

    3. Potential Solutions To These Challenges

      To overcome these challenges, a variety of solutions have been proposed. These include the development of new, more targeted psychedelic compounds that have fewer side effects and are easier to administer. Additionally, some researchers have proposed alternative models of care, such as group therapy or peer-led support groups, that can provide the necessary support and guidance for people undergoing psychedelic therapy. Advocacy efforts and public education campaigns can also help to raise awareness about the potential benefits of psychedelic-assisted therapy and facilitate regulatory change.

  6. Future Directions

    1. Analysis of Potential Future Research On The Use Of Psychedelics In Addiction Treatment

      The effects of psychedelics and their potential utility in the treatment of addiction are still poorly understood. Future research could focus on understanding the underlying neural and psychological mechanisms of action and identifying the most effective treatment protocols. Additionally, research could explore the use of psychedelics in combination with other therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or mindfulness-based interventions.

    2. Discussion of Challenges And Limitations In The Field

      There are several obstacles and limits to psychedelic-assisted treatment that must be overcome before it may realize its full potential. These include ethical concerns around the use of psychedelics, regulatory barriers to research and treatment, and a lack of trained professionals with the necessary skills and experience to conduct psychedelic-assisted therapy.

    3. Potential Implications For The Future of Addiction Treatment

      The use of psychedelics in addiction treatment has the potential to revolutionize the field and provide new, effective treatment options for those struggling with addiction. However, this will require a concerted effort from researchers, policymakers, and healthcare providers to address the challenges and limitations of psychedelic-assisted therapy and ensure that it is conducted in a safe, responsible manner.

  7. Conclusion

  1. Summary of Key Findings

    In conclusion, the use of psychedelics in addiction treatment shows promise as a therapeutic tool, but there are significant challenges and limitations that need to be addressed.

  2. Discussion of the Potential Impact Of Psychedelic Treatments On Addiction

    Despite the challenges and limitations, the potential impact of psychedelic treatments on addiction could be significant. Research has shown that psychedelics can produce profound and lasting changes in mood, behavior, and outlook, which could be especially beneficial for individuals struggling with addiction. Additionally, psychedelic-assisted therapy can help to address underlying psychological issues that may contribute to addictive behaviors, such as trauma or anxiety.

  3. Final Thoughts On The Future Of Psychedelic Treatments For Addiction

    There is growing interest and support for the therapeutic use of psychedelics, but the future of their usage in the treatment of addiction is dubious. It seems anticipated that psychedelic-assisted therapy will become a more commonly accepted and accessible treatment option for persons battling with addiction as more research is completed and regulatory restrictions are removed. But, care must be taken to ensure that these procedures are carried out in a responsible and secure manner that puts the patient’s health and safety first.


  • Hamill, J., Hallak, J., Dursun, S. M., & Baker, G. (2019). Ayahuasca: Psychological and Physiologic Effects, Pharmacology and Potential Uses in Addiction and Mental Illness. Curr Neuropharmacol, 17(2), 108-128. https://doi.org/10.2174/1570159×16666180125095902
  • Jensen, M. E., Stenbæk, D. S., Juul, T. S., Fisher, P. M., Ekstrøm, C. T., Knudsen, G. M., & Fink-Jensen, A. (2022). Psilocybin-assisted therapy for reducing alcohol intake in patients with alcohol use disorder: protocol for a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled 12-week clinical trial (The QUANTUM Trip Trial). BMJ Open, 12(10), e066019. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2022-066019
  • Johnson, M. W., Garcia-Romeu, A., & Griffiths, R. R. (2017). Long-term follow-up of psilocybin-facilitated smoking cessation. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse, 43(1), 55-60. https://doi.org/10.3109/00952990.2016.1170135
  • Mendes, F. R., Costa, C. d. S., Wiltenburg, V. D., Morales-Lima, G., Fernandes, J. A. B., & Filev, R. (2022). Classic and non‐classic psychedelics for substance use disorder: A review of their historic, past and current research. Addiction Neuroscience, 3, 100025. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addicn.2022.100025
  • Rush, B., Marcus, O., García, S., Loizaga-Velder, A., Loewinger, G., Spitalier, A., & Mendive, F. (2021). Protocol for Outcome Evaluation of Ayahuasca-Assisted Addiction Treatment: The Case of Takiwasi Center. Front Pharmacol, 12, 659644. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2021.659644
  • Teixeira, P. J., Johnson, M. W., Timmermann, C., Watts, R., Erritzoe, D., Douglass, H., Kettner, H., & Carhart-Harris, R. L. (2022). Psychedelics and health behaviour change. J Psychopharmacol, 36(1), 12-19. https://doi.org/10.1177/02698811211008554
  • Tupper, K. W., Wood, E., Yensen, R., & Johnson, M. W. (2015). Psychedelic medicine: a re-emerging therapeutic paradigm. Cmaj, 187(14), 1054-1059. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.141124
  • Ziff, S., Stern, B., Lewis, G., Majeed, M., & Gorantla, V. R. (2022). Analysis of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy in Medicine: A Narrative Review. Cureus, 14(2), e21944. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.21944

Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 9, 2023

Recent Posts

Related Posts