In the United States, the opioid epidemic continues to run rampant among the American public. Since 1999, deaths caused by opioid overdose have quadrupled, as have the amount of opioids that are available to Americans. Using information gathered from the year 2015, it has been estimated that roughly 91 Americans die everyday from some type of opioid overdose, most notably prescription opioids and, of course, heroin. The addictions that these substances can garner are monstrous, and the attempt to escape them even more so, at least until now.
Over the past few years, preliminary studies involving psychedelic chemical compounds have suggested that these substances and the experiences they induce may be of help to those who struggle with a substance use disorder. These results have brought about much speculation into the efficacy of such treatments for those who suffer from addiction, but it was not until recently that researchers decided to take a close, definitive look at this correlation.
A new clinical investigation, published earlier this month in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, investigated the possible therapeutic relationship between psychedelic use and past year opioid use disorders within illicit substance users. The team behind the investigation analyzed the results of 44,000 illicit opioid users’ National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), a federal government inquiry that surveys 70,000 people every year, between the years 2008 and 2013.
The analysis of the opioid user surveys revealed that experiences involving psychedelic substances were associated with a 27% reduced risk of opioid dependence and a 40% reduced risk of opioid abuse in the time thereafter. Other than cannabis use, which has been associated with a 55% reduced risk of opioid abuse, no other substances and very few methods of treatment in general have demonstrated this sort of reaction within those who suffer from addiction.
The strong correlative relationship presented by the survey data seems to further validate the testimonials in which many people claim to have had their lives changed by experiences involving ibogaine, psilocybin, kratom, et cetera. It seems as though the meaning found during these experiences is significant enough to the point to where it can free the mind from its perpetual craving and addictive compulsion. After witnessing the results, the authors of the study concluded that the associations between psychedelic use and opioid abuse are “pervasive and significant” and “suggest that psychedelics are associated with positive psychological characteristics and are consistent with prior reports suggesting efficacy in treatment of substance use disorders.”
Although there is more research to be done in order to clearly define the correlation between psychedelic experiences and opioid addiction, therapy involving these substances should never be ruled-out when discussing effective methods for combating addiction and mitigating the rapidly-increasing overdose death rates. For many, these life-changing tools may be the best hope for one day attaining happy and more fulfilling lives with a freedom from their problematic relationship with opioids or other harmful substances. This study is yet another demonstration of the ways in which these mysterious psychedelic compounds are helping today’s medical researchers overcome psychiatric hurdles that have been standing in the way since the dawn of neuroscience.
Pisano, V. D., N. P. Putman, H. M. Kramer, K. J. Fanciotti, J. H. Halpern, and S. C. Holden. "The Association of Psychedelic Use and Opioid Use Disorders among Illicit Users in the United States." Sage Pub. Journal of Psychopharmacology, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
Garcia-Romeu, A., R. R. Griffiths, and M. W. Johnson. "Psilocybin-occasioned Mystical Experiences in the Treatment of Tobacco Addiction." National Center for Biotechnology Information. SAGE Publications Web. 2 Feb. 2017.
Winkelman, M. "Psychedelics as Medicines for Substance Abuse Rehabilitation: Evaluating Treatments with LSD, Peyote, Ibogaine and Ayahuasca." National Center for Biotechnology Information SAGE Publications Web. 2 Feb. 2017.
"Understanding the Epidemic." Cdc.gov. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Dec. 2016. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.