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Clinical Benefits of Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy for ADHD and ADD in Adults

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are pervasive neurodevelopmental conditions characterized by symptoms such as difficulty maintaining attention, impulsivity, and in the case of ADHD, hyperactivity. While stimulant medications, such as methylphenidate and amphetamine, are commonly used to treat these conditions, they often come with side effects and don't work for everyone. As such, there's a growing interest in alternative treatments, including psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. This article aims to shed light on the potential clinical benefits of this emerging approach for treating ADHD and ADD in adults.


Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy: An Overview

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy incorporates the use of psychedelic substances, like psilocybin (magic mushrooms) or MDMA (ecstasy), alongside traditional psychotherapy. This therapeutic model typically involves preparatory sessions, one or more psychedelic-assisted sessions, and integration sessions to help patients process their experiences.


Potential Benefits for ADHD and ADD

Psychedelics' therapeutic potential for ADHD and ADD centers on their ability to enhance mindfulness, foster neuroplasticity, and potentially address comorbid conditions often associated with these disorders, such as anxiety and depression.


Enhancing Mindfulness:

Individuals with ADHD or ADD often struggle with "present-moment" attention and mindfulness. Psychedelics have been reported to increase mindfulness and enhance the awareness of one's mental and emotional processes. This enhanced mindfulness could potentially help individuals manage their symptoms and improve overall functioning.


Fostering Neuroplasticity:

Neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to form and reorganize synaptic connections, is thought to be enhanced by psychedelic substances. This could be particularly beneficial in ADHD and ADD, where there may be alterations in brain networks associated with attention regulation. The enhanced neuroplasticity could potentially facilitate the development of more effective attentional networks, leading to improvements in symptoms.


Addressing Comorbid Conditions:

ADHD and ADD are often accompanied by other mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. Emerging research suggests that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy can effectively reduce symptoms of these disorders. Therefore, treating these comorbid conditions could potentially contribute to the overall management of ADHD and ADD symptoms.


Clinical Trials and Evidence:

As of now, direct clinical trials examining the benefits of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for ADHD and ADD are sparse. However, anecdotal reports and initial studies on related conditions are encouraging. For example, a survey study by Kuypers et al. (2017) suggested that individuals with ADHD who used psychedelics recreationally reported reductions in their symptoms. While these reports are far from conclusive, they provide a promising direction for future research.


Safety Considerations:

Like any therapeutic intervention, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is not without risks. Temporary adverse effects can include increases in heart rate and blood pressure, nausea, and psychological distress. However, these effects are typically manageable in a controlled, clinical setting with adequate preparation and support. It is also important to note that not everyone is a suitable candidate for this therapy. Proper screening for conditions like psychosis is essential to minimize potential risks.



Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy could offer a novel and potentially effective approach to treating ADHD and ADD in adults. The ability of psychedelic substances to enhance mindfulness, promote neuroplasticity, and potentially alleviate comorbid conditions may provide unique benefits for individuals with these disorders.


However, it is important to recognize that this is a nascent field. Further clinical trials are needed to confirm these potential benefits and to determine the safety, efficacy, and optimal protocols for this approach. As research progresses, we may well find that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapyoffers an important addition to our therapeutic repertoire for ADHD and ADD, complementing existing treatments and providing an alternative for those who do not respond to current approaches.


Moreover, it is critical that any implementation of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for ADHD and ADD is done within a rigorous clinical and ethical framework. Therapists need to be adequately trained to administer these powerful substances and support individuals throughout their psychedelic experiences. Additionally, careful screening processes must be in place to identify individuals who may not be suitable for this kind of therapy due to psychiatric or medical contraindications.


In conclusion, while the application of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to ADHD and ADD is still in its early stages, the initial evidence points to its potential to significantly impact treatment strategies. The unique abilities of psychedelic substances to foster introspection, catalyze changes in perspective, and stimulate neuroplasticity may hold the key to addressing the core symptoms and comorbid conditions of these complex disorders.


By integrating cutting-edge neuroscience, clinical psychology, and careful consideration of the unique properties of psychedelic substances, we stand at the threshold of a new era in the treatment of ADHD and ADD. As further research unfolds, we may find that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy not only improves symptoms but also enhances the quality of life for adults living with these conditions.


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Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy

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  1. Kuypers, K. P., et al. (2017). Microdosing psychedelics: More questions than answers? An overview and suggestions for future research. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 31(9), 1039-1057.

  2. Bogenschutz, M. P., & Johnson, M. W. (2016). Classic hallucinogens in the treatment of addictions. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 64, 250-258.

  3. Carhart-Harris, R. L., et al. (2016). Psilocybin with psychological support for treatment-resistant depression: an open-label feasibility study. The Lancet Psychiatry, 3(7), 619-627.

  4. Ly, C., et al. (2018). Psychedelics Promote Structural and Functional Neural Plasticity. Cell reports, 23(11), 3170-3182.

  5. Sessa, B., et al. (2019). First study of safety and tolerability of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy in patients with alcohol use disorder: preliminary data on the first four participants. BMJ Case Reports, 12(7), e230109.

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