Psychedelics are one newly developing strategy for addiction recovery. While their use may seem counterintuitive, there have also been promising results of utilizing psychedelics, especially for mitigating withdrawal symptoms and the trials of early treatment.
The Need for New Strategies
Addiction is a disease that can result from any number of different factors. Genetic predisposition, mental health disorders, social circles and influences, and one’s environment can all impact the development of addiction. However, because these sources can be so widely varied, the need for an equally varied approach to treatment is also necessary.
Addiction reprograms the brain, not only ingratiating the use of addictive substances as a necessity for one’s survival in accordance with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs but also affecting many different parts of one’s life. Relationships can become compromised due to one’s use, and professional endeavors can be stunted or lost as one continues to suffer from the effects of the disease.
The reason for turning to addictive substances informs one’s needs in recovery and the unique goals that an individual wishes to pursue in their sobriety. Having as many options available to address each dimension of one’s recovery is crucial for addressing its multiple aspects.
The Proven Potential of Psychedelics
The use of psychedelics in addiction treatment can seem inherently counterproductive in its concept — providing drugs to those who are themselves looking to overcome the use of addictive substances. However, the use of psychedelics in recovery isn’t attributed to just any kind of psychedelic.
Most studies have surrounded very select psychedelics rather than encapsulating all available drugs from the street. Also, the use of these psychedelics is intended to be narrow, not purporting to be a permanent solution to addiction but rather a way to help tackle direct symptoms during the early phases of treatment and recover while other strategies can be implemented.
The use of ketamine, for example, isn’t intended to be a sustainable solution for any symptoms or hurdles in the recovery process but rather is being studied as a short-term aid in depression to establish a baseline in recovery. Many other studies focus solely on the psychedelic ibogaine and its role in easing withdrawal symptoms, working to take the edge off of debilitating anxiety and depression or aid in restful sleep that may be compromised during withdrawal. MDMA has also found success in trauma survivors by helping to open up childhood memories that may have been repressed or avoided, which may have informed one’s decision to pursue addictive substances as a coping mechanism.
However, while the use of psychedelics is still contested and undergoing more research, the need for new options to ease withdrawal symptoms, especially for opioid addiction treatment, is very present. Any potential aids for this phase of addiction treatment can be instrumental in altering the landscape of this volatile stage of the recovery process.
The discomforts of withdrawal itself can be enough to deter individuals from seeking recovery, and its hardships can make developing grounding and coping strategies incredibly difficult. By introducing new elements that can ease this process, patients may be able to establish early relapse prevention plans better and make more informed decisions about their actions and support networks.
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Psychedelics as a Personalized Approach
While there can be a desire to use every option available to help those beginning their recovery journey, psychedelics are still not a universal option for all individuals. Each person’s history and experiences with addictive substances can inform the use of psychedelics in addiction treatment.
First, it is essential to highly monitor the use of psychedelics to identify and prevent any development of replacement addictions. Despite the potential positive benefits, there is also a chance for abuse of psychedelics or adverse reactions to the practice, and heavily monitoring a patient’s responses to their use and one’s attitudes surrounding them is paramount to the approach.
Likewise, it is also possible that those navigating their recovery from drugs can interpret the use of psychedelics in counterproductive ways. Introducing the idea that some psychedelics are actually any kind of aid in addiction recovery can blur the lines between the positive and negative effects of drug use, creating unnecessary confusion and risks. Extensive education is required with the use of psychedelics in addiction treatment to inform if such an approach is suitable for a particular patient.
Studies on the efficacy of psychedelics are still ongoing and should still be approached with a degree of discretion. While many studies have shown potential in their use, there may still be time before the long-term effects of the practice become known, and erring on the side of caution can help eliminate some risks.
Psychedelics may present a new approach to the addiction treatment process, and their use can be instrumental for many individuals establishing their own journey to sobriety. However, they are just part of the path and still need to be coupled with other therapies and supportive communities. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we understand the need to address one’s recovery path in as many ways as possible to address each person’s unique needs and goals. We are ready to help each patient find their own path to success. While our rehab in Hawaii does not provide psychedelic-assisted treatment, we offer individual and group therapy, meditation, yoga, EMDR, and more based on patients’ unique needs. Our extensive spiritual and cultural experiences can help patients discover their own sober identity while navigating new practices in a safe environment. For more information on pshycedelics in addiction treatment, call Hawaii Island Recovery today at (866) 390-5070.