Psychedelics are a class of psychoactive substances that produce changes in perception, mood, and cognitive processes. Psychedelics affect all the senses, altering a person’s thinking, sense of time, and emotions.
Psychedelic drugs include but are not limited to:
- Psilocybin (the active ingredient of “magic” mushrooms)
- Mescaline (the active ingredient found in peyote)
The Changing Landscape of Psychedelics
Traditionally perceived to be recreational party drugs, the science behind psychedelics’ medical benefits has come quite far in the last decade. According to recent clinical developments, the altered sense of thinking and feeling caused by psychedelics can lead to mental health breakthroughs when appropriately navigated by qualified clinicians.
Certain researchers believe psychedelics have the potential to change the mental health landscape, making it important to understand their relevance to workers’ comp.
Clinical Developments Across Psychedelics
- Ketamine was approved by the FDA in 2019 for treatment-resistant depression
- Based on Phase 3 trials and cooperation from the FDA, MDMA will see a new drug application for the treatment of PTSD submitted by Q3 of 2023
- Psilocybin is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials for treatment-resistant depression, having previously received Breakthrough Designation from the FDA in 2019
- Johns Hopkins University established a center for psychedelic research in 2019, receiving a $4 million federal grant from the National Institutes of Health in 2021
By the end of this year a major psychedelic could receive FDA approval for the treatment for PTSD. These developments increase the potential for more drug approvals to come in the next few years. And while there are federal complications as most psychedelics are classified as Schedule I drugs, there is a growing wave of psychedelic decriminalization at a more local level.
At the time of publication of this article, psilocybin alone has been decriminalized in:
- Washington D.C.
- Port Townsend and Seattle in Washington
- Denver, Colorado
- Oakland, Arcata, and Santa Cruz in California
- Somerville, Cambridge, and Northampton in Massachusetts
- Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Hazel Park in Michigan
As clinical research continues to evolve, expect to see even more psychedelic initiatives proposed in the coming years.