New hallucinogenics research

With thanks to Rob on ADCA update for the heads-up:

1. Journal of Psychopharmacology, Vol. 22, No. 6, 603-620 (2008)
Human hallucinogen research: guidelines for safety
MW Johnson
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA

WA Richards
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, MD, USA

RR Griffiths
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA, Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA,

There has recently been a renewal of human research with classical hallucinogens (psychedelics). This paper first briefly discusses the unique history of human hallucinogen research, and then reviews the risks of hallucinogen administration and safeguards for minimizing these risks. Although hallucinogens are relatively safe physiologically and are not considered drugs of dependence, their administration involves unique psychological risks. The most likely risk is overwhelming distress during drug action (‘bad trip’), which could lead to potentially dangerous behaviour such as leaving the study site. Less common are prolonged psychoses triggered by hallucinogens. Safeguards against these risks include the exclusion of volunteers with personal or family history of psychotic disorders or other severe psychiatric disorders, establishing trust and rapport between session monitors and volunteer before the session, careful volunteer preparation, a safe physical session environment
and interpersonal support from at least two study monitors during the session. Investigators should probe for the relatively rare hallucinogen persisting perception disorder in follow-up contact. Persisting adverse reactions are rare when research is conducted along these guidelines. Incautious research may jeopardize participant safety and future research. However, carefully conducted research may inform the treatment of psychiatric disorders, and may lead to advances in basic science.

2. Journal of Psychopharmacology, Vol. 22, No. 6, 621-632 (2008)

Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later
RR Griffiths
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA,

WA Richards
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, MD, USA

MW Johnson
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA

UD McCann
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA

R. Jesse
Council on Spiritual Practices, San Francisco, CA, USA

Psilocybin has been used for centuries for religious purposes; however, little is known scientifically about its long-term effects. We previously reported the effects of a double-blind study evaluating the psychological effects of a high psilocybin dose. This report presents the 14-month follow-up and examines the relationship of the follow-up results to data obtained at screening and on drug session days. Participants were 36 hallucinogen-na├»ve adults reporting regular participation in religious/ spiritual activities. Oral psilocybin (30 mg/70 kg) was administered on one of two or three sessions, with methylphenidate (40 mg/70 kg) administered on the other session(s). During sessions, volunteers were encouraged to close their eyes and direct their attention inward. At the 14-month follow-up, 58% and 67%, respectively, of volunteers rated the psilocybin-occasioned experience as being among the five most personally meaningful and among the five most spiritually significant experiences of their lives; 64% indicated that the experience increased well-being or life satisfaction; 58% met criteria for having had a ‘complete’ mystical experience. Correlation and regression analyses indicated a central role of the mystical experience assessed on the session day in the high ratings of personal meaning and spiritual significance at follow-up. Of the measures of personality, affect, quality of life and spirituality assessed across the study, only a scale measuring mystical experience showed a difference from screening. When administered under supportive conditions, psilocybin occasioned experiences similar to spontaneously occurring mystical experiences that, at 14-month follow-up, were considered by volunteers to be among the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant of their lives. ”

Is anyone aware of hallucinogen research going on in an Australian context?

2 thoughts on “New hallucinogenics research

  1. Alistair R

    Hi James,
    Do you know anything about the legal status of hallucinogen research in Australia? I’ve always wondered about it. Can psychologists/pharmacologists/medical researchers give psychoactive drugs to their participants in research?

    Is the reason that it doesn’t happen often because it gets rejected by the University (or research institute) or the Government?

    It’s a real shame that they don’t do more research with these drugs — it could be beneficial in quite a few ways.

    Ah well, keep up the good work on this blog.

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