Researchers Concerned About Whitewashing of Psychedelic-Assisted Mental Health Research

CANNANNEW REPORT

As psychedelic therapy trials approach FDA approval, researchers express the urgent need to ensure effectiveness and accessibility to communities of color. By Madison Natarajan, MS  – August 5, 2021 A new article published in Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy discusses the importance, and challenges, of racial equity within the resurgent field of psychedelic-assisted mental health treatment. The authors express concern about the systemic underrepresentation of minoritized groups in psychedelic research, discussing the ways in which poverty, psychedelic medicalization, and public health contribute to this disparity. “From a social justice standpoint, the rapid commercialization of formerly illegal substances for which many BIPOC have faced criminal penalties, while wealthy investors come along to profiteer, will require careful policy and regulatory rollout to ensure appropriate parity. Finally, with decriminalization initiatives around psychedelics gathering momentum, it will be important not to create further disparities by deeming some psychoactive substances primarily used in white communities worthy of decriminalization, while keeping others illegal.” Research has demonstrated promise in the field of psychedelic-assisted mental health treatment for a variety of mental health disorders, including the treatment of depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol dependence, and even cancer-related existential crises. These promising results will likely lead to psychedelic-assisted mental health treatments becoming approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) upon completion of the ongoing clinical trials. Recently, the first study of its kind focusing on psychedelic use outcomes addressing racial trauma for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) suggested that the naturalistic use of psychedelics or MDMA were associated with significant reductions in traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms related to experiences of racism. The authors write, “Findings suggest that the use of psychedelics has the potential to reduce symptoms of mental distress experienced due to racism. While these findings should give us some hope for the future, the research community…

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