A UK university is launching one of the world’s first postgraduate qualifications on psychedelics to teach healthcare workers about using psilocybin, LSD, MDMA and other psychoactive drugs in therapeutic work.
The certificate from Exeter University cements psychedelics as an area of scientific importance in the UK. It could help pave the way for clinical therapies becoming available within the next five years, with some treatments being in the final stages of clinical trials.
This would follow Australia, which has become the first country to allow psychiatrists to prescribe psychedelics for treatment-resistant depression. In the US, MDMA may be licensed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder by the end of the year, and Oregon and Colorado are planning to legalise the regulated use of psilocybin, the hallucinogenic chemical found in magic mushrooms.
Celia Morgan, a professor of psychopharmacology at the University of Exeter and a co-lead of the programme, said: “As the world wakes up to the potential for psychedelics to be an important part of the toolkit to treat some of our most damaging mental health conditions, it’s vital that we’re training the workforce to meet the demand. The global body of high-quality evidence is now irrefutable – psychedelics can work where other treatments have failed.”
Noting that the main barriers to their use were legal and structural rather than medical, she added: “I think this shows how far we have come from the fear and stigma that dogged this field for years, a change which we also see reflected in leading universities around the world conducting gold-standard clinical trials.
“The control of most of these substances on schedule 1, which means they have no medical value, is still the biggest barrier, but we remain optimistic that this may change in the UK with the increasing weight of evidence, as it is starting to in countries like the US and Australia.”
The programme will capitalise on Exeter’s world-leading psychedelics research, and will be named Psychedelics: Mind, Medicine, and Culture. It was unveiled at Breaking Convention, Europe’s largest psychedelics conference.
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