Lively and in-depth discussions of city news, politics, science, entertainment, the arts, and more.
Hosted by Larry Mantle
Airs Weekdays 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

Can psychedelic drugs help treat addiction?




In this April 13, 2010 photo, Dr. Stephen Ross shows an example of the pill a patient would take in a study on the effects of hallucinogenic drugs on the emotional and psychological state of cancer patients in New York. The pill could could either contain a placebo or psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms.
In this April 13, 2010 photo, Dr. Stephen Ross shows an example of the pill a patient would take in a study on the effects of hallucinogenic drugs on the emotional and psychological state of cancer patients in New York. The pill could could either contain a placebo or psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Seth Wenig/AP

Listen to story

19:52
Download this story 9MB

Hallucinogenic drugs aren’t part of a typical recovery program for alcoholism, but new research on the effects of psilocybin, the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” might bring psychedelic drugs into addiction treatment programs.

Doctors at the University of New Mexico are using the ingredient in combination with therapy. The three-month pilot study of psilocybin was inspired by the medical use of LSD in alcohol treatment during the 1960s.

Psychedelics were previously used to achieve spiritual awareness during addiction treatment -- the stigma of using psychedelic drugs is fading, and renewed interest in this kind of therapy has prompted new studies across the country.

Lead researchers say that the drugs aren’t intended as a cure or treatment in and of themselves, and aren’t to be taken as a prescribed pill. Instead, patients use non-addictive hallucinogens as a catalyst to make more traditional addiction therapy more effective.

Critics of the research argue that giving addicts drugs is an ineffective way to approach alcohol-related therapy and rehabilitation. Can psychedelic drugs effectively treat addiction?

Guest:

Dr. John Kelly, Ph.D. Associate Professor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, the founder and Director of the Recovery Research Institute at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the Program Director of the Addiction Recovery Management Service (ARMS) and the Associate Director of the Center for Addiction Medicine at MGH.

Marc Mahoney, director of operations at SOBA Recovery Center in Malibu, a treatment center rooted in the 12-step philosophy