Nine complete strangers portray psilocybin could derail research progress on psychedelic use for mental health

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These clinical trials showed such promising results that the FDA has twice labeled psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy” for major depressive disorder, signaling that if these strong results continue, it looks like the FDA may approve the drug. for legal use in the United States. for this purpose. According to Davis, this approval could come in the next three to five years. So far, psilocybin has only been tested in adults and therefore any positive results can only be applied to populations over 18 years of age.

“Psilocybin really helps manage pain and work with it, rather than just numbing it like SSRIs do, and that’s why it can have some very positive long-term effects,” says Valerie Bonnelle, PhD. , chief scientist at Beckley. Foundation, an Oxford-based organization that designs and develops global research and policy initiatives relating to psychedelics.

To achieve these results, therapy is an essential part of psilocybin therapy, but you won’t see this in Nine Perfect Strangers. According to Davis, the typical practice is around eight hours of therapy before a dose of psilocybin, close monitoring while the patient is taking the drug, and then many hours of therapy over the following days, weeks, and months. General advice is usually only one to three sessions of psilocybin administration with therapy over the course of a few months – not the intense daily dosage that is featured on the show.

“We want to help build a sense of trust and relationship so that if anxiety, fear, panic or those painful memories arise, we can work on them therapeutically to help people process, understand and to integrate these types of experiences into a path. get ahead in their life, ”says Davis.

One of the most disturbing scenes in Nine Perfect Strangers occurs during episode six, when Heather (Asher Keddie), as she took an excessively high dose of psilocybin and left wandering in the woods, recalls a traumatic memory that could have led to her son’s suicide . Its subsequent breakdown is the result of overall bad practice with a malicious lack of therapeutic support, and this is exactly the type of portrayal the researchers warn against.

“Shows like this bring conversation [about psychedelics] to a wider audience, and when it’s done right, it helps educate the public about what these substances are, ”Davis says. (Editor’s note: Davis did not see the show, but reacted to the description provided by the author of this play.) “However, when it is done poorly, or when it perpetuates stigma or misinformation, it fuels the flame of those who are skeptical or those in leadership positions in the country who might see it and assume that these ideas false are correct. “

Collin Reiff, MD, who specializes in addiction psychiatry at NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine and has primarily studied MDMA and ayahuasca, sees the benefits of these drugs in hyper-controlled environments, but remains hesitant about the way the public learns of the advancements, emphasizing that currently they can – and should – only be taken in a clinical setting.

“I am concerned that the enthusiasm around these compounds will lead to the [public] their use goes beyond research, ”explains Reiff. “It is very rare for a drug to be all good or all bad. There is often a happy medium, and we haven’t found a happy medium with these compounds. More research is definitely needed.

There is also the risk that irresponsible pop culture portrayals or media coverage of psychedelics will lead people with mental illness to take matters into their own hands without the guidance and supervision of a clinical specialist.


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