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Psychedelics and Addiction Recovery

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

During the 1950s, a number of forward-thinking psychiatrists and intellectuals were exploring the potential of psychedelic substances as a treatment modality for addictions. There was a lot of promising work being done on the potential of psychedelics in healing mental illness and addictions.

Many studies during this time discovered that LSD in particular could have a positive impact on mental illness. The research of this time was rigorous and scientific.

There were big names involved in this research including Carl Jung, Aldous Huxley, Humphrey Osmond and Bill Wilson, the founder of AA who wanted to include LSD in the 12 step program.

The cultural explosion in the 1960s was a backlash to the rigidity of mainstream culture. Draconian drug legislation coincided with the anti-Vietnam war movement, so young people started to rebel against the establishment. Part of the rebellion included smoking pot, taking psychedelics, and railing against the establishment.

People were taking psychedelics experimentally and recreationally, without therapeutic guidance. Many people had negative experiences as a result. Some people would jump off buildings thinking they could fly, others went insane because they took LSD with the wrong intention and in the wrong setting.

The authorities who were sceptical of psychedelic research then had an excuse to clamp down and so the field of psychedelics and mental health was shut down.

Today, the US is facing an opioid crisis, as well as a pandemic to exacerbate the overdose death rate.

Between June 2019 and May 2020 81,000 died of an opioid overdose. This is the largest number of overdose deaths in US history.

The big danger now for people addicted to opioids is fentanyl, a highly dangerous and potent synthetic opioid. Fentanyl is everywhere and addicted people play Russian Roulette daily when they score street opioids such as heroin or counterfeit pills.

This synthetic opioid is 50 times stronger than morphine. As no one has a tolerance to fentanyl, opioid addicts could overdose at any time. As fentanyl is made in a lab with chemicals bought from China, it’s difficult for enforcement authorities to trace distribution networks.

Drug cartels are getting so rich from fentanyl, they could care less about the people they murder by quietly lacing street drugs.

Thousands more people will die from opioid overdoses until radical change happens.

Between 8 and 12% of Americans develop an opioid use disorder, and only 10% of those with an addiction get treatment. That means millions of Americans are struggling through life with a severe opioid addiction.

Addiction Treatment in The US

Currently, the only treatment route available to people struggling with addiction is through an addiction treatment center. A 30 day residential program can cost $30,000, and it doesn’t guarantee success.

While many do manage to maintain a long-term recovery after rehab, it is common for people to relapse within the first year of completing a treatment program.

To be able to treat addiction successfully, it needs to be understood.  The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as a “treatable, chronic disease.” The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) classifies addiction as a “brain disorder.”

Addiction is not a moral failure or a sign of weakness, which is how society depicts addiction. This disease does not discriminate and affects people of all backgrounds.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is considered the gold standard in drug treatment and it has some success for many. MAT combines cognitive behavioral therapy with medication to assist a person to become substance-free.

For opioid use disorders, the FDA has approved three medications to help people stay off opioids:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone


Buprenorphine helps people to stay opioid-free by blocking the pleasurable effects of opioids. This medication is prescribed to people who have already detoxed from opioids and is intended to help maintain sobriety.


Methadone is a synthetic opioid agonist that reduces cravings in opioid addicts. This medication is also used to treat pain. Methadone is administered through opioid treatment programs and has been prescribed to recovering opioid addicts for 40 years. Methadone can be highly addictive.


Naltrexone is a medication prescribed for opioid addiction as it blocks the pleasurable effects of opioids. Eventually, the desire to take opioids is reduced. This medication is only administered when someone has already successfully detoxed.

Traditional medication-assisted addiction treatment typically uses medication that is approved by the Federal Drug Administration. People recovering from opioid use are typically prescribed buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone.

But, some people find that these pharmaceuticals have terrible side effects, but they can help to manage cravings.

What Are Psychedelic Drugs?

The word psychedelic is derived from the Ancient Greek for “psyche” ψυχι (pronounced ‘pseehee’) meaning “soul” and δηλουν (pronounced ‘diloon’) for reveal or make visible.

Psychedelic drugs include things like LSD (acid), mushrooms, peyote, and more. These drugs are often used by many to alter their state of mind in recreational ways. While psychedelics aren’t often considered to have a strong addiction potential, the fact of the matter is these can just as well be abused as any other drug. If that is the case, it is vital to seek addiction treatment.

Psychedelics Rehab at Renaissance Recovery

Whether it’s with prayer, meditation, psychedelics, medication-assisted treatment, reading, a 12-step program, or life experience, a spiritual awakening could be the part of the puzzle that clicks long-term sobriety into place.

If you need any guidance at all, please contact the friendly team at Renaissance Recovery by calling 866.330.9449

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Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country