What makes one an influential woman in psychedelics? For Celia Morgan, it’s been her longstanding commitment to understanding the effects of ketamine and how it can fit into a therapeutic setting.
Morgan, a ketamine researcher and the head of ketamine-assisted therapy at Awakn Life Sciences (NEO: AWKN)(OTCMKTS: AWKNF), was named one of the most influential women shaping the future of the psychedelics industry in a recent Business Insider article.
Last week The Dales Report sat down with her to discuss her work on ketamine, her role at Awakn, and how Awakn’s KARE Program (that is, Ketamine in the Reduction of Alcohol Relapse), was developed to help people reduce their reliance on and consumption of alcohol.
Morgan began working on ketamine more than 20 years ago during her undergraduate degree.
“What fascinated me about ketamine and psychedelics in general was their ability to change your conscious experience,” she says.
At Awakn, the KARE Program came out of a phase two trial that was funded by the UK government, where ketamine was combined with a psychological therapy.
In the trial, Morgan and team compared the effects of different treatments—ketamine combined with therapy, ketamine on its own, a placebo combined therapy, and a placebo with basic alcohol education—to find out which would be more efficacious.
Participants in the therapy groups received seven psychotherapy sessions, which incorporated aspects of mindfulness and cognitive behavior therapy, and three ketamine sessions.
“What we found was dramatic reduction in drinking in the group given ketamine and therapy, with the greatest effects in that group,” said Morgan. The next most effective treatment was ketamine on its own, followed by the placebo/therapy combination, while the placebo/alcohol education combination was the least effective in reducing drinking.
Morgan pointed out that based on trial data, people who were abstinent only 2 percent of time before the trial were abstinent 86 percent of time at the trial’s six-month follow-up mark—translating to huge decreases in mortality: “Before the study, 1 in 8 of our patients would have died prematurely because of drinking,” she says. “Now it’s 1 in 80.”
The study is being followed up with a phase 3 trial led by Awakn.
Hear more about Awakn’s work on ketamine and alcoholism from Morgan in the video interview above.