A new survey suggests that more American psychiatrists than ever are beginning to embrace psychedelics for therapy.
Psychiatrists in the United States are increasingly warming up to the idea of treating patients with psychedelics.
A new survey set to be published in the Psychedelic Medicine journal found “a striking positive shift in attitudes toward the therapeutic potential of hallucinogens among American psychiatrists,” compared to the same survey conducted in 2016.
Despite the boom in psychedelic research in recent years, as well as legalization of psilocybin in Oregon as well as decriminalization in Colorado, study authors aren't aware of any of other published national surveys of American psychiatrists regarding their opinions about hallucinogens and hallucinogen-assisted therapy.
Of the 131 respondents, who were demographically similar to those who responded in 2016, 80.9 percent moderately-to-strongly believed that hallucinogens show promise in treating psychiatric conditions, while 60.8 percent thought this class of drugs can treat substance use disorders.
Additionally, 93.9 percent of psychiatrists' surveyed moderately-to-strongly supported psychedelic research for psychiatric conditions, while 88.6 percent moderately-to-strongly supported psychedelic research for substance use disorder treatment.
Overall, researchers found that in comparison to the 2016 survey, there was significantly increased optimism about the therapeutic applications of psychedelics, with less concern about potential risks.
A slight majority of psychiatrists who responded to the present survey even said that they're planning to include psychedelic-assisted therapy in their practice if and when it is legal to do so.
Authors conducted the survey by emailing 1,000 randomly selected members of the American Psychiatric Association in late 2022 and early 2023. The intention was to asses whether American psychiatrists have greater optimism about the therapeutic use of hallucinogenic psychedelics six years after their initial survey.
According to that study, published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, psychiatrists in 2016 “tended to perceive hallucinogens as potentially hazardous and appropriately illegal for recreational purposes.”
Study authors stated that at that time only “a large minority expressed optimism about the potential use of hallucinogens for psychiatric treatment.”
Brian S. Barnett, an author involved with both surveys, wrote in a 2018 Vice piece that, at the time, “a little less than half of psychiatrists still felt that psychedelics show promise in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. However, less than a third believed that psychedelics could actually improve psychotherapy treatment outcomes.”
“Nearly half of survey participants also thought that use of psychedelics increases the risk of long term cognitive problems,” Barnett noted in Vice, while offering evidence refuting that view.
American psychiatrists' positive attitude shift toward psychedelic medicine is another sign that the psychedelic renaissance is taking root. Meanwhile, California recently passed a bill decriminalizing naturally occurring psychedelics, including psilocybin, mescaline and DMT. The governor is expected to sign or veto by October 14.