The University of Calgary’s Study on Psychedelic and AUD

The TDR Three Takeaways on AUD:

  1. Researchers at the University of Calgary are testing the effectiveness of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for treating AUD.
  2. The study aims to explore whether psychedelics, combined with therapy, can create lasting behavior changes in AUD sufferers.
  3. If successful, this could mark a significant shift in how alcohol use disorder is treated, utilizing psychedelics for long-term recovery.

The University of Calgary has started a study to evaluate the effectiveness of psychedelics, specifically psilocybin, in treating AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder). This innovative research, conducted at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, seeks to enroll 128 participants who will undergo a combination of specialized therapy sessions and psychedelic treatments. The primary goal is to ascertain if this combined approach enhances the treatment’s efficacy compared to traditional methods.

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is not without its controversies, primarily due to varied interpretations of its definition, particularly regarding the psychotherapeutic component. According to Dr. Leah Mayo, the trial’s principal investigator, the study will first leverage psychotherapy, already a beneficial standalone treatment for some AUD cases. The introduction of psilocybin aims to augment this effectiveness by potentially enabling the brain to break free from entrenched negative behaviors.

This treatment model does not envision long-term medication but rather a brief, intense period that might facilitate lasting behavioral changes. Participants will receive psilocybin in controlled doses, paired with psychotherapy sessions over five weeks, designed to evoke significant habit alterations and curtail alcohol misuse.

According to CTV News, experts involved in the trial, such as Dr. David Hodgins, emphasize the potential of this study to revolutionize AUD treatment. The therapy model, dubbed “motivational enhancement therapy,” focuses on fostering long-term positive habits through self-awareness and personalized change strategies. This non-confrontational approach marks a departure from traditional, often more aggressive treatment models, aiming instead to empower individuals to identify their reasons for change and develop effective strategies for achieving it.

Personal testimonies underscore the importance of supportive communities and self-realization in overcoming AUD. According to CTV News, individuals like John Greenwood and Jason Quilley share their journeys through addiction and recovery, highlighting the varied paths to achieving sobriety. While not all endorse the use of psychedelics in recovery, the consensus leans towards the value of therapy and the strength found in communal support.

Supported by the Canadian Institutes in Health Research and Filament Health, which is supplying the psilocybin, this research could pave the way for more effective, compassionate treatment options for alcohol use disorder. Want to keep up to date with all of TDR’s research and news, subscribe to our daily Baked In newsletter.  

Researchers at the University of Calgary are testing the effectiveness of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for treating alcohol use disorder.

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