Initiative 1886 has been filed! We are one step closer for clinical psilocybin in Washington state. Read the text here
Addiction · Depression · Anxiety · Psilocybin Treatment
Do you love someone suffering from addiction, depression, and/or anxiety? Most of us do. These common conditions seem to have become even more prevalent during the pandemic and the political/social turmoil in recent years. Psilocybin-assisted counseling has proven to be effective in treating these conditions and other mental illnesses.
Washington state ranks 3rd in the nation for mental illness among adults (nearly 24% of the population), and a government survey ranked Washington 49th in the nation for psychiatric bed capacity. State payments to five private psychiatric hospitals nearly tripled over five years, totaling almost $67 million in 2018, and the near-term projection (including the construction of additional hospitals) totals $1 billion. With the mental healthcare crisis on the rise and a significant shortage of resources, our state and our nation clearly need more effective treatment options.
What is psilocybin?
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring compound found in over 200 species of mushrooms, and over 20 species are native to Washington and the Pacific Northwest. Psilocybin is safe, non-toxic, non-addictive, and its chemical structure is very closely related to the serotonin produced by our bodies. So, our bodies know how to assimilate and metabolize the compound with little-to-no side effects.
Why psilocybin-assisted counseling?
Addiction, depression, and anxiety result from many different factors, but common denominators are feelings of disconnection from others and despair. Depression is a sense of loss and despair about the past, anxiety is a sense of loss and despair about the future, and addiction is sometimes our way of self-treating both.
Disconnection and despair can lead to excessive self-rumination, negative self-talk, and obsessive behaviors that are difficult to break. Psilocybin has been proven to reduce activity in the region of the brain that is responsible for self-rumination, negative self-talk, and adverse behavior patterns. Rigorous, pioneering studies at leading medical research institutions such as Johns Hopkins, UCLA, and NYU indicate that psilocybin therapy shows real promise. It appears to be uniquely effective in treating depression, end-of-life anxiety, and addiction. A recent study from NYU showed that psilocybin therapy significantly reduced depression and anxiety symptoms in 80 percent of the cancer patient participants, with few side effects. More studies have followed, and medical psilocybin appears to be on track to get FDA approval in the coming years.
Read more about recent studies and clinical trials involving psilocybin:
Outside of clinical studies, psilocybin-assisted counseling is not currently available— but that may be quickly changing as state across the country propose medical uses of psilocybin. Pioneering research by institutions like Johns Hopkins and UCLA has shown that psilocybin therapy, when done by trained professionals, can help people break through a variety of mental health conditions. The Psilocybin Services Act for Washington would create a new program that would allow people to get access to psilocybin-assisted counseling to treat depression, anxiety, and addiction without a specific diagnosis — potentially helping thousands.
What is psilocybin-assisted counseling?
The Psilocybin Services Act for Washington proposes a similar medical model being enacted in Oregon following the passage of the history-making Oregon Psilocybin Therapy Act in November of 2021. Psilocybin-assisted counseling consists of:
- An initial interview and counseling session to identify the participant’s intentions, verify medical eligibility and safety, and prepare the participant for the psilocybin experience.
- A supervised psilocybin session in a safe and comfortable environment.
- A follow-up integration session to discuss the psilocybin experience and integrate the experience into the participant’s life. Implementation of ADAPT's Psilocybin Services Act for Washington will focus on equitable access, safety, and flexibility to meet various needs.
How does it really work? How do participants improve their lives and wellbeing?
Currently, Washingtonians cannot access psilocybin therapy — ADAPT wants to change that by asking the Washington Health Authority to create a licensing system that will create a regulated program where Washingtonians suffering from depression, anxiety, and other challenges can see a trained facilitator to receive supervised psilocybin therapy.
The psilocybin experience is a tool for thought. Specifically, psilocybin can allow one to see their thoughts and past experiences more clearly and, sometimes, literally. Thoughts that are visually beheld are more profound, impactful, and unambiguous. This greater visibility often results in a direct reckoning with life decisions and behavior patterns. For example, lifetime smokers have an academic knowledge of what smoking does to their health and wellbeing. During the psilocybin experience, however, smokers can gain a deeper understanding of the damage they are doing to themselves, and the "knowing" takes on a much deeper meaning. The deeper "knowing" often leads to newfound motivation to quit smoking. Similarly, alcoholics under the influence of psilocybin gain new visibility into the damage to self and relationships with loved ones. Seeing is believing.
Psilocybin can reduce activity in the region of the brain associated with self-rumination, negative self-talk, and adverse behavior patterns. This reduction in negative self-talk and mental "noise" gives us an opportunity to see and experience a better way to be. Simultaneously, psilocybin can form new connections and pathways in the brain that are not active during normal day-to-day life. Dr. Franz Vollenweider calls this "neuroplasticity", "where patterns of thought and behavior become more 'plastic' and therefore easier to change."
The greater visibility into our thoughts and actions and the disruption of negative thought patterns can also broaden perspective. This broadening of perspective can result in a greater sense of connection to loved ones and an increase to the quality of "openness" to ourselves and others’ point of view. Dennis McKenna says, "maybe the most important thing that psychedelics do is to temporarily disable our default model of reality. Psychedelics let you step outside of your reference frame temporarily and look at your situation, your world, and yourself from a completely different perspective". In other words, psilocybin can create sufficient distance between you and your situation so you can formulate a more objective view of yourself. This newfound perspective can often be a turning point for positive change.
Psilocybin in the News
New research published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology has offered valuable insights into the long-term effects of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for depression. The study reports more than...
Psychedelic treatments for addiction challenge 12-step's ideas about what sobriety is: total abstinence from any mood- or mind-altering drug—psychedelics included.
Psychedelic drugs creating hopes for breakthroughs in depression, anxiety, pain and addiction are being tested at UAB. The university is one of a handful in the nation conducting trials with...
Single dose of psilocybin leads to decreased demoralisation and improved spiritual wellbeing among cancer sufferers, long-term research indicates