B.C. centre planning clinical trials to treat addiction with hallucinogens

published on April 21, 2017 by Jon Hernandez in CBC News

Opioids among several drugs that will be examined through trials

British Columbia’s fledgling network for research into drug abuse is planning clinical trials to explore treating opioid addiction and other substance abuse disorders with hallucinogens.

The B.C. Centre on Substance Use will examine the effectiveness of psychedelic drugs to help people battling addiction. One of the organization’s lead researchers and directors, Dr. Kenneth Tupper, says the trials are set to begin this year, pending procurement of funding.

“The evidence from renewed research in this area … is that there’s clinical therapeutic potential for drugs like psilocybin, LSD, [and] ayahuasca,” said Tupper, adding B.C. and Canada are lagging behind in the research field.

Tupper says hallucinogens could play a role in the province’s growing opioid crisis, which claimed 120 lives in March alone. The BCCSU was established by the provincial government to explore solutions to the health crisis, as well as enhance addictions research in B.C.

Promising research

Psychedelics have long caught the attention of addictions researchers, and numerous clinical trials have shown promising results.

A 2014 study from John Hopkins University, for example, found psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) to be an effective tool to help smokers kick their habit, more than doubling the effectiveness of traditional cessation drugs like varenicline.

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