A Psychedelics Pioneer Takes the Ultimate Trip

As the founding director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, Dr. Roland Griffiths has been a pioneer in investigating the ways in which psychedelics can help treat depression, addiction and, in patients with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis, psychological distress. He has also looked at how the use of psychedelics can produce transformative and long-lasting feelings of human interconnectedness and unity. One could surely classify his achievements using various medical and scientific terms, but I’ll just put it like this: Griffiths has expanded the knowledge of how we might better learn to live.

Johns Hopkins Medicine Receives First Federal Grant for Psychedelic Treatment Research in 50 years

Johns Hopkins Medicine was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to explore the potential impacts of psilocybin on tobacco addiction. This is the first NIH grant awarded in over a half century to directly investigate the therapeutic effects of a classic psychedelic, consistent with a recent study published online that searched NIH funding and found zero grants were awarded between 2006 and 2020. Johns Hopkins Medicine will lead the multisite, three-year study in collaboration with University of Alabama at Birmingham and New York University. The study will be conducted simultaneously at the three institutions to diversify the pool of participants and increase confidence that results apply to a wide range of people who smoke. The grant, totaling nearly $4 million, is funded by NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Psychedelic Science and Medicine Interest Group

The Psychedelic Science and Medicine Interest Group is being proposed to create a space within the NIH for scientists to discuss basic, clinical, and translational research related to psychedelics. The revival of psychedelic research extends beyond a single scientific domain and is a transdisciplinary effort. Psychedelics are being researched as therapeutics for a diverse and expanding group of conditions including, but not limited to, depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, cluster headaches, substance use disorders, and anorexia nervosa. Additionally, psychedelics are being explored as treatment for comorbidities such as depression associated with cancer orAlzheimer’s Disease. As psychedelics enter the clinical sphere, there has also been an increase in research on the mechanisms responsible for the effects of psychedelics on the mind and brain. From animal models to human studies, this basic work is furthering our understanding of these compounds and the potential benefits and risks of their usage. With a resurgence in NIH funding for psychedelic research, there is an opportunity to connect non-NIH, extramural, and intramural researchers with an interest in psychedelic research.

The Psychedelic Science and Medicine Interest Group will host monthly virtual meetings via Teams. It will foster the dissemination of knowledge through invitation of guest speakers and journal clubs reviewing psychedelic scientific literature. In addition to scientific discourse, the Psychedelic Science and Medicine Interest Group welcomes discussion surrounding indigenous history, equity in research and care for underrepresented patient populations, and other sociocultural challenges associated with psychedelic research. Anyone with an interest in psychedelic science and medicine is invited to join and attend meetings. As this is a developing field, we particularly encourage young fellows and trainees to participate to learn more about future opportunities in psychedelic research.

Investigation of self-treatment with lysergic acid diethylamide and psilocybin mushrooms: Findings from the Global Drug Survey 2020

Background: Growing numbers of people are using psychedelics for personal psychotherapy outside clinical settings, but research on such use is scarce.
Aims: This study investigated the patterns of use, self-reported outcomes and outcome predictors of psychedelic ‘self-treatment’ of mental health conditions or specific worries/concerns in life.
Methods: We use data from the Global Drug Survey 2020, a large online survey on drug use collected between November 2019 and February 2020. In all, 3364 respondents reported their self-treatment experiences with lysergic acid diethylamide (N = 1996) or psilocybin mushrooms (N = 1368). The primary outcome of interest was the 17-item self-treatment outcome scale, items reflecting aspects of well-being, psychiatric symptoms, social-emotional skills, and health behaviours.
Results: Positive changes were observed across all 17 outcome items, with the strongest benefits on items related to insight and mood. Negative effects were reported by 22.5% of respondents. High intensity of psychedelic experience, seeking advice before treatment, treating with psilocybin mushrooms and treating post-traumatic stress disorder were associated with higher scores on the self-treatment outcome scale after averaging values across all 17 items. Younger age, high intensity of experience and treating with LSD were associated with increased number of negative outcomes.
Conclusions: This study brings important insights into self-treatment practices with psychedelics in a large international sample. Outcomes were generally favourable, but negative effects appeared more frequent than in clinical settings. Our findings can help inform safe practices of psychedelic use in the community, and inspire clinical research. Future research can be improved with utilisation of prospective designs and additional predictive variables.

Evaluating the Potential Use of Serotonergic Psychedelics in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Recent clinical and preclinical evidence points towards empathogenic and prosocial effects elicited by psychedelic compounds, notably the serotonin 5-HT2A agonists lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin, N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and their derivatives. These findings suggest a therapeutic potential of psychedelic compounds for some of the behavioural traits associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by atypical social behaviour. In this review, we highlight evidence suggesting that psychedelics may potentially ameliorate some of the behavioural atypicalities of ASD, including reduced social behaviour and highly co-occurring anxiety and depression. Next, we discuss dysregulated neurobiological systems in ASD and how they may underlie or potentially limit the therapeutic effects of psychedelics. These phenomena include: 1) synaptic function, 2) serotonergic signaling, 3) prefrontal cortex activity, and 4) thalamocortical signaling. Lastly, we discuss clinical studies from the 1960s and 70s that assessed the use of psychedelics in the treatment of children with ASD. We highlight the positive behavioural outcomes of these studies, including enhanced mood and social behaviour, as well as the adverse effects of these trials, including increases in aggressive behaviour and dissociative and psychotic states. Despite preliminary evidence, further studies are needed to determine whether the benefits of psychedelic treatment in ASD outweigh the risks associated with the use of these compounds in this population, and if the 5-HT2A receptor may represent a target for social-behavioural disorders.

Organizer’s Handbook

The Organizer’s Handbook is a living, evolving collection of organizing principles, guides, tools, and research. These documents have been created by the Decriminalize Nature National Board and local DN organizations, and act as a starting point for those who seek to organize their own communities, and contribute to and become part of the movement to re-establish our direct relationship to consciousness-healing plants and fungi.