Moot to mull psychedelic drugs’ use to cure acute mental disorders

10:00 AM, 22 Apr, 2024
Moot to mull psychedelic drugs’ use to cure acute mental disorders

A conference featuring known experts is set to explore the potential of psychedelic medicines, a controversial yet compelling area in medical science, as a viable treatment option for severe, life-threatening mental disorders.

Titled 'The Levels of Explanation in Psychedelic Psychiatry,' the conference, jointly organized by the University of Adelaide’s Department of Philosophy and the Monash Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies, will examine the prospective application of psychedelic medicines in addressing one of the most deadly psychiatric conditions, anorexia nervosa. It will also discuss the potential utility of these substances in managing depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the exploration of any associated adverse effects.

Leading experts will deliberate on the latest research, ethical considerations, and concerns about the controlled use of psychedelics within mental health contexts.

"While I do not endorse the recreational use of psychedelic drugs, I firmly believe they possess therapeutic potential within tightly regulated medical frameworks," says Prof Philip Gerrans of the University of Adelaide, a renowned philosopher and the conference's convener.

The utilization of psychedelics for psychiatric treatment is not novel, and there is increasing advocacy for their integration into mainstream mental health care, particularly in cases of depression, he says.

Prof Gerrans underscores the need for comprehensive understanding regarding the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of psychedelics, particularly their profound impact on perception and cognition.

Dr Paul Liknaitzky, head of the Clinical Psychedelic Lab at Monash University, will present his latest findings from major clinical trials investigating psychedelic therapies.

Despite the massive support for the medical integration of psychedelics, Prof Jon Jureidini of the University of Adelaide calls for adhering to evidence-based medicine principles. While there is significant momentum for psychedelics to become a staple treatment for mental health ailments, we must ensure that this enthusiasm aligns with concrete evidence supporting their efficacy, says Prof Jureidini.

Researchers advocate for further clinical trials to validate the positive effects of psychedelics on mental health conditions.

The main goal of this conference is to anchor the expansion of psychedelic medicines within the realm of rigorous interdisciplinary science. "By convening clinicians, psychiatrists, ethicists, and fundamental neuroscientists, we aim to fortify psychedelic research on a solid scientific foundation," concludes Prof Gerrans."