How Psychedelics Could End the Opioid Pandemic

July 8, 2020 09:05:09

Due to the ongoing global spread of the novel coronavirus, some ailments have been ignored as potential threats to global health. One of these is the widespread opioid epidemic in the U.S.

Purdue Pharma is a pharmaceutical company, currently run by the Sackler family, which many say has contributed a lot to the opioid epidemic running across the U.S. Purdue Pharma is believed to have played a big role in the making of the killer Oxycotin.

Opioids were initially given a suspicious clean bill of health by numerous doctors and scientists who claimed that they were not addictive. This approval led to a high-pitched marketing campaign which resulted in a huge number of opioids being prescribed as painkillers. The users were reassured of their non-additive nature and used them widely and confidently. The results later turned out to be heartbreaking as opioids are actually addictive.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) later declared the opioid epidemic a health emergency. According to their statistics:

  • Over 130 individuals succumbed to opioid related overdoses daily in the year 2018
  • By 2018, over 2 million people had opioid related disorders worldwide
  • Over 10 million people abused opioid-related drugs in the year 2018
  • Almost 50,000 individuals died from an overdose of opioids in the year 2018
  • Close to 2 million people had their first experience abusing opioids in the year 2018

From these statistics, the Department of Health and Human Services concluded that the opioid epidemic was a cause for alarm, and the federal government has reduced social distancing regulations for users of Subutex (Buprenorphine) and Methadone, which are some of the common treatments for opioid addiction. However, several groups have emerged offering other potential solutions.

DemeRx is a subsidiary of ATAI Life Sciences that believes in non-addictive approaches to opioid addiction treatment. The CEO, who is also a professor of Neurology at the University of Miami’s School of Medicine, says that psychedelics could be the answer.

For ages now, psychedelics have been restricted by UN conventions, only exempted in religious or research contexts. DemeRx however, through their lead drug Ibogaine, believes that psychedelics are useful and not harmful in the long run. Ibogaine has shown exemplary promise in the fight against opioid addiction with many users successfully quitting opioid drugs with minimal withdrawal hardships.

The use of psychedelics to treat addictions is not a new concept. Native Americans reportedly used mescaline-containing cacti to treat alcoholism, and studies to establish if psychedelics can be used to treat tobacco addiction are currently ongoing.

Given the positive reception that psychedelics have received from regulators like the FDA, it is only a matter of time before the tide of opioids is stemmed using these new remedies.

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