According to a recently published survey in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, people in Canada are using psychedelics for therapy, but not telling their doctors.
“Naturalistic psychedelic use among Canadians is common,” the researchers wrote in the survey’s abstract. “However, interactions about psychedelic use between patients and clinicians in Canada remain unclear.”
Using responses generated through an anonymous survey, the researchers “assessed health outcomes and integration of psychedelic use with health care providers (HCP) among Canadian adults reporting past use of a psychedelic.”
Among the survey’s more than 2,300 participants, a huge majority (81.2%) said they “never discussed psychedelic use with their [health care providers],” according to the researchers.
“While 33.7% used psychedelics to self-treat a health condition, only 4.4% used psychedelics with a therapist and 3.6% in a clinical setting. Overall, 44.8% (n = 806) of participants were aware of substance testing services, but only 42.4% ever used them. Multivariate regressions revealed that therapeutic motivation, higher likelihood of seeking therapist guidance, and non-binary gender identification were significantly associated with higher odds of discussing psychedelics with one’s primary [health care provider],” they wrote, adding that those who “used a greater number of psychedelics, lower age, non-female gender, higher education, and a therapeutic motivation were significantly associated with higher odds of awareness of substance testing.”
The researchers said that they “conclude that naturalistic psychedelic use in Canada often includes therapeutic goals but is poorly connected to conventional healthcare, and substance testing is uncommon.”
“Relevant training and education for [health care providers] is needed, along with more visible options for substance testing,” the researchers wrote.
As Psychedelic Spotlight noted, the “results of the survey are not very surprising.”
The legal prohibition on such drugs makes it a taboo topic for many –– even when cloaked in the confidentiality of a doctor’s visit.
“Although the recent resurgence of interest and research of psychedelics as potential treatments for a variety of mental health conditions has been presenting evidence of these substances’ efficacy in treating affective disorders such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD, psychedelics such as psilocybin are still illegal in Canada. It is understandable that Canadians fearing legal consequences would prefer not disclosing their psychedelic use with their health care providers, especially if they are covered by their employee insurance,” Psychedelic Spotlight said.
“Despite the fact that the stigma surrounding psychedelic use is slowly dissipating, it is impossible to know how frequently health care providers read new research papers, especially if these substances have not yet been approved by Health Canada. Hence, they may not be familiar with the latest research in the mental health field, which ultimately means that clinicians may be unaware of the data demonstrating these substances’ efficacy. Canadians who are uncertain of their health care provider’s attitudes and perceptions towards such treatments can greatly influence their willingness to disclose their psychedelic use. Is it that surprising that there would be resistance to reveal use of illegal substances to health care professionals? Certainly not.”
It is likewise not surprising that a large number of those who use psychedelics do so with therapeutic intentions. A growing body of research has highlighted how drugs such as psilocybin and LSD can have profound and beneficial psychological effects.
A recently published study found that psychedelics have the capacity to activate parts of our “Default Mode Network,” the inter-connected areas of the brain that display hyper activity when a person is not paying attention to his or her surroundings.
“The DMN is especially active, research shows, when one engages in introspective activities such as daydreaming, contemplating the past or the future, or thinking about the perspective of another person. Unfettered daydreaming can often lead to creativity. The default mode network is also active when a person is awake. However, in a resting state, when a person is not engaged in any demanding, externally oriented mental task, the mind shifts into ‘default,’” the publication Psychology Today wrote in its analysis of that study.