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Psychedelic Treatments for Substance Use Disorder and Substance Misuse: A Mixed Methods Systematic Review

Sharma, R., Batchelor, R. & Sin, J. ORCID: 0000-0003-0590-7165 (2023). Psychedelic Treatments for Substance Use Disorder and Substance Misuse: A Mixed Methods Systematic Review. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 55(5), pp. 612-630. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2023.2190319


Renewed interest in psychedelic substances in the 21st century has seen the exploration of psychedelic treatments for various psychiatric disorders including substance use disorder (SUD). This review aimed to assess the effectiveness of psychedelic treatments for people with SUD and those falling below diagnostic thresholds (i.e. substance misuse). We systematically searched 11 databases, trial registries, and psychedelic organization websites for empirical studies examining adults undergoing psychedelic treatment for SUD or substance misuse, published in the English language, between 2000 and 2021. Seven studies investigating treatment using psilocybin, ibogaine, and ayahuasca, alone or adjunct with psychotherapy reported across 10 papers were included. Measures of abstinence, substance use, psychological and psychosocial outcomes, craving, and withdrawal reported positive results, however, this data was scarce among studies examining a wide range of addictions including opioid, nicotine, alcohol, cocaine and unspecified substance. The qualitative synthesis from three studies described subjective experience of psychedelic-assisted treatments enhanced self-awareness, insight, and confidence. At present, there is no sufficient research evidence to suggest effectiveness of any of the psychedelics on any specific substance use disorder or substance misuse. Further research using rigorous effectiveness evaluation methods with larger sample sizes and longer-term follow-up are required.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License ( nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.
Publisher Keywords: psychedelic; substance use disorder; psilocybin; ibogaine; lysergic acid diethylamide; ayahuasca
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
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