Psychedelic Moments to Remember from 2022
We know 2022 was a wild year for psychedelics. From the resurrection of microdosing, to the great debates of functional connectivity, to the race to make the best non-psychedelic agonist, we tried to pick some of our most memorable things from the year.
NIH Workshop on Psychedelics as Therapeutics: Gaps, Challenges and Opportunities
It seems like this happened a decade ago, but the NIH had a workshop full of leading experts in January 2022 to talk about the current state of psychedelic science. This was a big deal as the NIH didn't recognize psychedelics as therapy in the 21st century, until now.
The second installment of the powerful podcast hit the airwaves and brought clinical trial participants experiences to the public, exposing the dark side of psychedelic science. This prompted conversations surrounding people in power, ethical violations and the need for a review board, and brought patient safety concerns to the surface.
Daws et al - Increased global integration in the brain after psilocybin therapy for depression
This study provided some major findings on brain connectivity following psychedelics, discussing the involvement of the DMN and other areas. It also sparked an intense online debate, discussions on statistics and further propelled psychedelic science to the mainstream media.
Gukasyan et al - Efficacy and safety of psilocybin-assisted treatment for major depressive disorder: Prospective 12-month follow-up
This was a much anticipated follow up study from the group at Johns Hopkins. They demonstrate ratings of personal meaning, spiritual experience, and mystical experience predicted increased well-being at 12 months, but did not predict improvement in depression overall.
The studies focused on microdosing have nearly doubled in the past year. Interestingly, the studies could not provide reliable evidence that microdosing is more than expectancy bias and placebo. Notably, several studies have reported a large amount of unblinding in the participants who got a psychedelic. This means people knew they were on a psychedelic, making the results a little harder to interpret. We need a lot more evidence before microdosing is proven to be anything more than a sugar pill. Check out our episode on this topic for more info.
Targeting the Serotonin 2A receptor... is it necessary?
Perhaps the hottest topic of psychedelics right now is whether or not the "trip" or subjective experiences are necessary for the potential therapeutic effects. Can we separate brain and self? So far, the answer is unclear. Check out some reading on the subject:
Bogenschutz et al - Percentage of Heavy Drinking Days Following Psilocybin-Assisted Psychotherapy vs Placebo in the Treatment of Adult Patients With Alcohol Use Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial
The results of a highly anticipated study with psychedelics and alcoholism, the first of its kind since 1950s. The study found that psychedelic administration decreased percentage of heavy drinking days but there was an effect of unblinding. Despite the many studies on this topic done in the past, more research is warranted with modern IRB and ethics boards to determine if psychedelics can treat SUDs.
DEA revokes proposed rule to schedule multiple psychedelic compounds
In a huge win for psychedelic science, the DEA decided to remove their proposed rules for scheduling psychedelic drugs. This included 5 tryptamine compounds and 2 phenethylamine compounds. Intense pushback from the scientific community, independent groups, students for sensible drug policy and individual comments made this possible. Check out our blog posts on drug policy for more information on this topic.
Biden administration plans for legal psychedelic therapies by 2024
The president announced the formation of a psychedelic task force to address the legalization of medical use of psychedelics via psychedelic-assisted therapies. This most likely comes from promising results with psilocybin for depression and use of MDMA-assisted therapy in those with PTSD. While this news was exciting for the masses, many scientists, activists, and participants don't believe the world is quite ready for widespread psychedelic therapy due to concerns of safety and ethics.