What are psychedelics?
Psychedelics are substances that have psychoactive effects and alter normal consciousness. The word ‘psychedelic’ literally means ‘mind-manifesting’. Drugs are grouped together into drug classes based on how they make you feel, how they work in the brain, and the structure of the molecule. The majority of psychedelic substances fall into three categories based on their chemical structure – tryptamines (e.g., psilocybin, DMT), phenethylamines (e.g., MDMA, 2C-B), or lysergamides (e.g., LSD). These substances also fall into three pharmacological classes based on how they make you feel – serotonergic psychedelics (5-HT2A receptor agonists, e.g., LSD, psilocybin, DMT), empathogen-entactogen (serotonin releasers, e.g. MDMA, MDA), and dissociatives (ketamine). Cannabis is sometimes referred to as a psychedelic, but belongs to a distinct class because it targets the endocannabinoid system. Learn more about psychedelics in our free course.
What is psychedelic-assisted therapy?
Therapy is one of the most effective treatments for mental health disorders. However, many people still do not respond adequately, or need ongoing sessions for lengthy periods of time. How to achieve the best outcomes from therapy is an avenue under research. Several different drugs, including some psychedelics (e.g., MDMA, psilocybin), are undergoing testing in clinical research trials to understand if they can boost the effects of the therapeutic process. Early research in the 1950-60s and initial Phase 2 pilot trials in the 21st century suggest that psychedelics-combined therapy could be very useful for treating mental health issues, including PTSD and depression.
MDMA and psilocybin are both under investigation in clinical trials, and currently are Schedule 1 substances in the US, meaning they are illegal for use outside of FDA-regulated trials. For this reason, providers on Psychedelic.Support cannot offer this treatment until the FDA (and other countries’ regulatory agencies) approve the drugs for use in therapy, which will occur if the next phase of large scale clinical trials show safety and efficacy for use in controlled clinical settings.
Ketamine is a dissociative substance safely used for decades as a general anesthesia in human and veterinary medicine. Antidepressant effects were found as a side effect, spurring clinical research for its possible use to treat depression. Now ketamine is being used legally off-label to reduce symptoms of several psychiatric disorders. Some providers at ketamine clinics are finding that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy can prolong the beneficial effects longer than just administering ketamine alone. Clinical trials are ongoing, but because ketamine is already FDA-approved, doctors can legally administer it in the US. Psychedelic Support lists ketamine clinics and providers that use ketamine in their practice.
Cannabis is now legal in many US states and prescribed for many different physical and psychological health problems. New uses are emerging as people explore how this plant medicine can be applied in our modern culture. While little clinical research has been published on this topic, some providers are finding cannabis-assisted psychotherapy to be a helpful approach for clients struggling with a variety of symptoms. Psychedelic.Support lists this service for providers who are in states where cannabis is legal.
Other substances that shift consciousness may also prove beneficial when paired with therapy or when taken in appropriate settings, but until there is a legal framework to work with a substance, Psychedelic.Support will not list providers or services that illegally incorporate substances into their practices.
What is integration?
Integration is the act of incorporating insights, challenging lessons, and new perspectives into the full totality of your everyday existence. The word ‘integrate’ stems from Latin integrates, meaning to “to make whole; to complete; to restore; to renew” – all describing the union of fractured parts and healing of past experiences. The expansiveness and immensity of non-ordinary states of consciousness may be difficult to make sense of after returning to normal reality, let alone incorporate into one’s psyche as a transformative energy. With guidance and support, one may more easily find clarity, purpose, and meaning. They may be able to let go of patterns no longer serving, and tap into creative forces that dwell within all of us. ‘Integration’ describes many concepts and practices, read the articles published on our site.
Most providers in the Psychedelic. Support Network offer integration during therapeutic sessions. Providers do not give substances or sit with people who have taken substances during integration sessions, and they do not condone or recommend use of illegal substances. Providers offer harm reduction strategies and client-centered care from a non-judgmental perspective.
Are psychedelics legal?
As explored above, the legal framework varies by substance and by state or country. We recommend researching the legal context in your area before contacting a provider. MDMA and psilocybin are both under investigation in clinical trials, and currently are Schedule 1 substances in the US, meaning they are illegal for use outside of FDA-regulated trials. Ketamine is being used legally off-label to reduce symptoms of several psychiatric disorders. Some providers at ketamine clinics are finding that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy can prolong the beneficial effects longer than just administering ketamine alone. Clinical trials are ongoing, but because ketamine is already FDA-approved, doctors can legally administer it in the US. Cannabis is now legal in many US states and prescribed for many different physical and psychological health problems.