Decades after lawmakers launched the purported “war on drugs” to curb drug addiction and criminal activity that supported the drug trade, drugs still have a large portion of the American population under their grip. Data from the Association of American Medical Colleges shows that by December 2019, 21 million Americans were suffering from some kind of drug addiction.
The stigma around drug addiction and mental health coupled with limited access to adequate treatment facilities means that a majority of Americans with drug addiction fail to receive appropriate care and often suffer adverse health outcomes. However, the past few decades have seen advancements in science and research that have provided the population with potential new approaches to drug-addiction treatment.
Psychedelics, long criminalized by the federal and state governments, are one of the treatments that have emerged as an alternative to traditional treatments for addiction. Amid a surge in research dubbed the psychedelic renaissance, a key federal agency has announced that it will provide funding to research the effects of psychedelics on addiction.
Last week, the National Institute on Drug Abuse published a series of notices outlining its intent to gain a deeper understanding of how psychedelics such as ayahuasca and psilocybin could help to alleviate substance abuse disorders. One of the notices focused on the underlying mechanisms that allow psychedelics to deliver their benefits while the other notices involved human clinical trials.
The federal agency stated that it would provide $1.5 million in funding to support subsequent studies on psychedelics and their effects on substance abuse disorders. According to the notices, NIDA is “particularly interested” in understanding the type of psychedelic-induced neurobiological and network adaptations that result in better emotional and cognitive regulation in patients.
The agency noted that the type of research needed to uncover this data would require “modern neuroimaging and behavioral analytic tools” capable of demonstrating the neural changes caused by psychedelics. Data collected using these tools would allow researchers to better identify crucial neural changes that could be leveraged by psychedelic therapies to improve psychedelic treatments for substance abuse disorders.
However, NIDA warns of the “considerable risk of failure” inherent to this type of research due to the complexities involved in such clinical trials.
If the research is successful, NIDA said, researchers may be able to make a breakthrough that pushes substance abuse disorder treatment with psychedelics another step further. With America currently in the midst of a mental health crisis and experiencing high levels of substance abuse, such a breakthrough couldn’t have come at a better time.
The funding to be availed by NIDA will help the beneficiary institutions or companies to build onto the body of knowledge that enterprises such as Delic Holdings Corp. (CSE: DELC) (OTCQB: DELCF) and other for-profit entities have unearthed about psychedelic substances.
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