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COLUMN:​ Another underused addiction treatment



Basia Andraka-Christou pointed out during a talk at the Poynter Center’s Healthcare Ethics Seminar in Bloomington last week that opiates such as methadone are helpful in supporting addicts so they are able to function in society.

This treatment is controversial, but not as controversial as another effective treatment: psychedelic therapy.

The downside of methadone treatment is it does not offer true rehabilitation. It is a maintenance treatment for an “incurable but eminently treatable illness,” according to the Riverwood Group MethadoneTreatment 
Center.

I believe that referring to any addiction as an incurable illness is doing a disservice to addicts. Long-term recovery may require continual caution, but it does not require permanent opioid 
dependence.

Some recovering addicts may find it helpful to start recovery with long-acting opiates. This can be an effective step in recovery.

Although research is often confined to small studies or decades-old journals, psychedelics can be highly effective in helping addicts recover for good.

For example, a 1973 study employed LSD for heroin treatment and found it could be highly effective in facilitating behavior change.

The key idea of psychedelic treatment is that the addict must make an effort to change him or herself. This powerful hallucinogenic experience can serve only as a catalyst for the change that the addict desires.

Hallucinogenic ketamine studies have also shown efficacy in treating alcoholics.

An extensive study in 1997 found the addition of ketamine treatment for recovering alcoholics led to a 65.8 percent recovery rate, while traditional treatment was only 24 percent effective.

One of the most effective hallucinogen treatments for opiate addicts is Tabernanthe iboga. T. iboga is a plant native to Africa and is used by native tribes for shamanistic rituals.

Countless anecdotal reports can be found online relating to its life-changing effects.

Scientific studies are limited, but one 2006 study reports “significantly decreased craving for cocaine and heroin,” based on patient surveys.

Unfortunately for addicts, most psychedelic treatments are illegal.

Addicts who seek psychedelic treatment are often forced to break the law or travel outside of the United States in order to do so.

These legal barriers are completely unnecessary given most psychedelics are extremely safe and do not lead to addiction.

As a community, we should spread awareness about the benefits of alternative treatment options. Many people strictly condemn psychedelics because of the tradition of stigma. Let’s change the stigma into legal, science-centered research.

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