University of Iowa (UI) researchers are conducting a pilot study using psilocybin and ketamine as a treatment for alcohol use disorder, the Daily Iowan reports. The study will be conducted as a head-to-head comparison of the compounds; half of the study participants will be given psilocybin and the other half will be given ketamine and neither the researchers nor the subjects will know which the participants will receive.
Study participants will start by having an MRI scan and a meeting with a therapist. They will then be administered their dosage and will receive another MRI scan after that. Researchers then evaluate the subjects over time and subjects will receive one last MRI scan three months after the drug was administered.
Mark Niciu, an assistant professor at the UI’s Department of Psychiatry and the Iowa Neuroscience Institute, told the Daily Iowan that “There’s really a great need for better treatments for alcohol use disorder.”
“…At least medication-based treatments with several [Food and Drug Administration] approved medications, but even so many patients don’t have adequate response to that. It’s all about providing relief from mental health disorders.” — Niciu to the Daily Iowan
Candida Maurer, lead therapist for the study and licensed psychologist, said there is a two-hour meeting with a licensed psychologist before the administration of the medicine during which a history of the participant will be taken. Maurer said she will be using a mixture of body therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, relaxation, inner-child work, and mind-body therapy with the subjects.
The study is a first of its kind at the university.
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