Psychedelics science: Conference and webinar series

Background

“Psychedelics” refers to a class of drugs that produce “non-ordinary states of consciousness” and can change our sense of self and the world. Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy aims to harness these effects to address the traumas, beliefs, and neurobiological and behavioural patterns underlying mental health and substance use disorders.

Psychedelics showed great promise as psychotherapeutic aids in the 1950s and 60s, but historical and political variables led to these drugs being declared illegal in most countries, despite a lack of evidence for toxicity or addictive potential. This severely limited the continuation of research.

Over the last 10-15 years, researchers have started to receive exemptions and funding again to obtain and study these drugs, leading to a rise in research outputs, investment in research centres, and stakeholder meetings.

Results emerging from recent years of psychedelic science have clear therapeutic implications for addiction and mental health. Research in the US, Canada, the UK, and European countries is leading the way in examining the effectiveness of different psychedelics in treating conditions such as depression, anxiety (including PTSD and end of life anxiety), and substance use disorders. Given there are so few reliable treatment options for many substance use disorders and mental health conditions, more investment and research in this domain could help address current treatment gaps.

About the conference

In May 2022, an international conference will be held on the topic of research into psychedelic substances for the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders, titled “From research to reality: Global Summit on Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Medicine”. The goal of the conference is to bring policymakers, researchers, clinicians, and people with lived experience together, in the interest of moving psychedelics research forward into both policy and practice. It will focus on rigorous scientific studies reflecting high-quality scholarship and research, and include panels on pathways to the regulation of psychedelic substances, and on the intersection of science and spirituality, among other topics.

The conference will also have a dedicated track to examine the use of psychedelics in the treatment and management of substance use disorders, including nicotine, cocaine, alcohol, and opioids, and share early research results that may be less visible than the mental health trials, to stimulate interest and collaboration to advance this area. As well, research programs are operating often in isolation and on small scale, and there is limited access to psychedelics for study, underscoring the need for collaboration between researchers and knowledge exchange with policy makers – two key aims of the conference.

To overcome emerging hurdles for different communities, the conference will also emphasize equity, diversity, inclusion, and access to stimulate progress.

Webinar series

As the conference has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a webinar series is being organized to continue the momentum for this work. The objectives of the webinar series are to:

  • Enhance knowledge of emerging evidence in the field of psychedelic substances for the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders
  • Build relationships between stakeholders in the fields of psychedelics research, prescribing, and regulating, to assist in moving research into policy and practice
  • Highlight the need for investment in psychedelics research
  • Build interest in the 2022 “From research to reality” conference

Audience

The target audiences for this conference and webinar series are researchers, clinicians, regulators and policy makers in the health sector, as well as individuals trained or in training as therapists for psychedelic-assisted clinical interventions. Members of the public are welcome to join the webinar series.

Please note that the webinars will be provided in English only.

Webinar dates

  • February 17th, 2021
  • April 14th, 2021
  • June 16th , 2021
  • August 18th  , 2021
  • October 13th , 2021
  • December 15th , 2021
  • February 16th, 2022
  • April 13th, 2022

Project team members

  • Brian Rush, Senior Scientist, CAMH
  • Cynthia Trayling, Director, IMHPR Administration, Director IMHPR Administration, Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, CAMH
  • Lauren Clegg, Manager, Research & Centre Of Innovation Communications, CAMH
  • Dominica Morisano, Collaborator Scientist, Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, CAMH
  • Doris Payer, Knowledge Broker, CCSA
  • Mary Bartram, Director, Mental Health and Substance Use, MHCC
  • Monnica Williams, Canada Research Chair for Mental Health Disparities, School of Psychology University of Ottawa
  • Tom Babor, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, and Professor, University of Connecticut

Project partners and funders

CCSA logo       CAMH logo       MHCC logo

Webinar series is co-hosted by Evidence Exchange Network (EENet).

Project Contact: 

Project contact

For more information, contact Doris Payer, Knowledge Broker, CCSA at Dpayer [at] ccsa [dot] ca or Brian Rush, Senior Scientist, CAMH at brian [dot] rush [at] camh [dot] ca.    

Sign up for our Newsletter