World-first psychedelics trial aims to provide relief for methamphetamine addiction

World-first psychedelics trial aims to provide relief for methamphetamine addiction

23 Mar 2021

St Vincent’s is undertaking a clinical trial using psilocybin, a known psychedelic drug found in magic mushrooms, with clients who use methamphetamine. The aim is to determine if using psilocybin will benefit treatment for clients attempting to stop or reduce their use of methamphetamine.

Over a period of two to three months, participants will have a minimum of three counselling sessions with an addiction specialist, followed by taking a controlled dose of psilocybin under clinical supervision. The dose is small enough to offer a psychedelic effect without adverse side-effects such as hallucinations and/or paranoia. This is then followed-up with further therapy sessions.

Co-researcher and clinical psychologist, Dr Elizabeth Knock said this short period of psychosocial treatment offers the potential to accelerate and enhance the discussions had in their counselling sessions. 

“It is really about people feeling free to tell stories in their heads without being tied down to their value,” Dr Knock said.

“It’s this internal psychological and spiritual experience that people describe as transformative … they describe being transported back to childhood or back to where they can have conversations with people and resolve situations.”

The trial will involve 15 participants who are 25 years or older and who are already being treated for their methadone use at St Vincent’s. “These will be people who may have tried to achieve their goals but have not had success,” Lead Researcher, Dr Jonathan Brett said.
With a robust screening process, clients will need to see a nurse, an addiction specialist and their psychiatrist before they are accepted to the trial. 

“We wouldn’t at all be encouraging people to try this at home - it needs an established treatment protocol behind it”, he added.


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Co-Researchers, Drs Jonathan Brett and Elizabeth Knock                                        Photo courtesy of Fairfax