Canadian Survey Shows People Aren’t Talking to Doctors About Medical Use of Psychedelics

August 25, 2023 11:34:05

A recent Canadian survey has revealed that an increasing number of people are taking psychedelics for therapeutic purposes but aren’t discussing their psychedelic use with their doctors. The poll discovered that Canadians are specifically using hallucinogens to address mental health challenges but aren’t informing their physicians about the psychedelic use.

Published in the “Journal of Psychoactive Drugs,” the survey found that the use of naturalistic psychedelics in Canada is common. However, there is little data about whether patients report their interactions with psychedelics to their clinicians. Psychedelics are the most recent beneficiaries of the multinational wave of drug reform that has seen several territories legalize drugs or recontextualize how they look at specific drugs and address their use in society.

More permissive psychedelic policies have led to an influx of psychedelic-related research in several countries and uncovered psychedelics’ potential as alternative mental health treatments. Mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that don’t always respond to conventional treatments seem to be quite responsive to psychedelic-assisted therapy in initial studies.  Furthermore, consecutive studies have found that psychedelics can deliver relatively long-term benefits with just one or a couple of doses and without causing any adverse side effects.

Even though most psychedelic research is in its preliminary stages, the public has grown increasingly accepting of psychedelics and their potential mental health benefits, especially since traditional mental health treatments such as antidepressants aren’t always effective and come with a myriad of side effects.

According to Canadian researchers, a little over 80% of the survey participants said they never discussed their use of psychedelics with their doctors even though around 33.7% used hallucinogens to self-treat medical conditions. Only 4.4% of the 2,300 survey participants reported using psychedelics in the presence of a therapist while just 4.4% used hallucinogens in a clinical setting. The survey found that more than 60% of participants weren’t even aware of available substance-testing options and that 42.4% of the 44.8% who were aware of testing services never used them.

Based on the data, researchers theorized that Canadians often use psychedelics for therapeutic goals, but there is little connection between substance testing, traditional healthcare and therapeutic psychedelic use. They called for proper education on training for physicians to equip them with the skills needed to deal with therapeutic psychedelic use among their patients as well as more visible substance-testing options.

These psychedelics usage patterns make it even more urgent for startups such as Seelos Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SEEL) to speed up their clinical-development programs so that the public can access psychedelic formulations that have been tested and found to not only be efficacious but also safe for patient use.

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