On the Cutting Edge of Addiction Treatment: The Global Addiction Conference
I have spent the past week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the Global Addiction Conference. There were presentations over several days on all sorts of topics, from country reports on incarceration of addicts and drug use statistics to research studies on co-occurring mental health disorders and the impact of national government health policies on drug treatment. This is all great information to have and I am honored to be able to interact with researchers on these subjects. However, one of the areas of greatest interest to me, were presentations made on the use of ayahuasca and ibogaine, psychoactive drugs that are being studied for their use in treating both mental illness (such as trauma and depression) and addiction.
It is not at all new to use entheogens to treat addiction and mental illness. In the 1950s, there was interest in treating alcoholism with LSD. Even Bill Wilson, one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, was involved in the research. The idea was that by creating a psychic or spiritual change or transformational experience, one could “reset” a person away from mental illness or addiction. The goal was to heal the underlying causes of addiction, trauma, or depression. But in the 1960s, when these drugs became listed as without medical purpose, research stopped in most places worldwide. Now there is renewed interest in taking up where this research left off.
Two of the drugs being used in research in Brazil are ibogaine and ayahuasca. Each has connections back to traditional healers. In small but promising studies, single doses in a therapeutic setting with follow up treatment has resulted in abstinence rates at around fifty percent with no long-term negative impacts on study participants. The results are far too preliminary and small to be conclusive, but the direction of the research is promising.
Why would Cliffside Malibu be interested in this kind of research when the substances being researched remain illegal in the United States? Cliffside Malibu is always interested in cutting edge therapies for the treatment of addiction and entheogenic substances have shown remarkable promise. If they are shown to be as effective and safe as they seem, these kinds of drug therapies could provide an opportunity for effective care for millions of people who suffer worldwide from drug addiction, but do not currently have access to quality, or in many cases, any, care. Therapies like that are worth keeping an eye on.