Going Beyond the Psychedelic Experience in Treating Addiction: Exploring the Holistic Treatment Model

The re-emergence of psychedelic science is powerfully demonstrating the ability of drugs like psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, to treat a wide range of neuropsychiatric illnesses, including addiction. While the psychedelic experience itself is receiving much attention by scientists, successfully treating the complex nature of drug and alcohol addiction often demands a more holistic approach that expands beyond the psychedelic drug itself. Adequately surrounding the psychedelic experience with supportive treatment modalities, such as psychotherapy, yoga, proper nutrition and meditation are equally important to ensure a successful recovery. This guide will explore the psychedelic assisted treatment model for drug and alcohol addiction and highlight the importance of conjunctive therapies that surround it. 

Read: Can Psychedelic Therapy Help Ease the Socioeconomic Burden of Addiction?

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Different Means to the Same End: Complementing The Psychedelic Therapy Model 

While much focus has been recently directed towards the impact of the psychedelic substances themselves on addiction, expanding the scope of this focus and exploring the entire treatment paradigm is just as crucial. Researchers have uncovered “significant evidence” that practices like yoga not only produce altered states of consciousness in the brain, but that these states strongly resemble the type of “mystical experiences” produced by psychedelic drugs.1,2 Essentially, when compared to psychedelics, practices like yoga and meditation have often been described as different means to the same end. For this reason, they are often worked into psychedelic treatment to maximize the chances of a successful recovery.  

These findings have significant implications on the use of psychedelic medicine in the treatment of addiction. This is because it is only through the use of sustainable daily practices, such as yoga and meditation, that the psychedelic experience can be expanded upon and utilized throughout daily life. 

psychedelic medicine addiction treatmentå

Establishing a Sustainable Daily Practice is Critical When Moving Forward

Since addiction by nature leads the patient to depend on chemical substances to help them cope with the challenges of everyday life, it is crucial to help patients establish new, drug-free coping mechanisms. Helping patients establish a sustainable daily practice can be particularly valuable in the days and weeks following the psychedelic experience. This is because the psychedelic drugs being used in the treatment of addiction, such as ibogaine, psilocybin and ayahuasca, open a critical window of neuroplasticity in patients wherein establishing healthy new patterns can genuinely set them up for success. Once this window has been opened, it is incredibly important for caregivers to help patients establish healthy patterns, habits and routines to help set the patient up for a transformative process. 

Curious about the innovative addiction treatment program at Inscape Recovery? Stream episode nine of the PsyFi podcast with Dr. Carlos AlvearLopez via YouTube, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts

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Regulating Neurotransmission, Optimizing Nutrition & More: Spotlighting Inscape Recovery’s Holistic Addiction Treatment Model

While psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA are still working their way through clinical trials in the United States, various retreat centers in Canada, Mexico and other parts of the world are offering addiction treatment programs that incorporate psychedelic medicines. Of them, the comprehensive treatment offered by Inscape Recovery in Mexico is particularly robust and noteworthy. The curriculum at Inscape is rich and diverse, offering participants the ability to deeply explore themselves through the use of various therapies and ceremonies, including the use of the hallucinogenic amazonian brew ayahuasca. While engaging with the ayahuasca is an important part of their program, it is just one aspect of the comprehensive treatment that patients receive. 

Not only does the program at Inscape offer participants the opportunity to engage with the ayahuasca, there are also insightful workshops on meditation, yoga, chi-kung, art therapy, psychotherapy and more. Additionally, the clinical team at Inscape also works on rebalancing a patient’s neurotransmitters through supplementation and  nutrition. 

We had the pleasure of connecting with one of the founders of Inscape Recovery, Dr. Carlos AlvearLopez, to explore this integrated approach to psychedelic addiction treatment for this piece. He had this to say about Inscape Recovery’s multidimensional approach towards treating addiction:

“addiction is not a choice, it’s a continuum of  explorations in search of balance and even wholeness, of course, using substances or actions that eventually move you far away from it. At our program we give the participant the resources needed to find balance and recognize the inherent essence of peace in oneself” ~Dr. Carlos AlvearLopez

psychedelic medicine addiction treatmentå

Closing Thoughts on Expanding the Psychedelic Medicine Addiction Treatment Model

Psychedelic medicine is certainly proving to be a powerful tool in the treatment of addiction. However, it is a tool that must be consciously used in conjunction with ample opportunities for integration and developing a sustainable practice. The mystical experiences provided by psychedelics need to be nurtured in a holistic treatment setting, such as the one offered at Inscape Recovery. Through incorporating practices like yoga, meditation, and good nutrition into the psychedelic treatment model, along with balancing a patient’s neurotransmission, the team at Inscape truly sets their participants up for success. As psychedelics get further incorporated into the addiction treatment model, plant medicine providers will be wise to do so amongst other practices and therapies that can genuinely benefit the patient long term.

Works Cited

  1. Walsh, R. Phenomenological Mapping and Comparisons of Shamanic, Buddhist, Yogic, and Schizophrenic Experiences. J. Am. Acad. Relig. 61, 739–769 (1993).
  2. 2. WALSH, R. CAN WESTERN PHILOSOPHERS UNDERSTAND ASIAN PHILOSOPHIES? The Challenge and Opportunity of States-of-Consciousness Research. CrossCurrents 39, 281–299 (1989).

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