By Gabriel García June 23, 2023
Psychedelics are substances that alter perception, mood and cognition, and may have therapeutic effects for various mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, addiction and palliative care. However, for decades, these substances have been stigmatized, banned and marginalized by anti-drug policy and lack of scientific research.
In this context, an organization has emerged that aims to change this situation and promote the medical, legal and cultural use of psychedelics: the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).
What is MAPS?
MAPS is a non-profit research and educational organization founded in 1986 by Rick Doblin, a psychologist who personally experienced the benefits of psychedelics and dedicated himself to advocating their therapeutic potential. Since then, MAPS has conducted numerous clinical studies with substances such as MDMA (ecstasy), psilocybin (magic mushrooms), LSD, ibogaine, ayahuasca and marijuana, in collaboration with academic, medical and regulatory institutions around the world.
MAPS’ goal is to develop medical, legal and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful use of psychedelics and marijuana, while respecting human rights, freedom of conscience and cultural diversity. To this end, MAPS conducts research, education, training, advocacy, public policy development, and support for therapeutic and spiritual communities.
Psychedelic Science 23, an event organized by MAPS to disseminate the therapeutic work of psychedelics.
What projects has MAPS carried out?
One of MAPS’ most prominent projects is the Phase 3 study with therapy-assisted MDMA for the treatment of chronic and refractory PTSD. This study is the first of its kind with a psychedelic drug and has shown very promising results: 67 percent of participants who received MDMA plus therapy no longer met diagnostic criteria for PTSD at the end of treatment, compared to 32 percent of those who received placebo plus therapy. In addition, 88 percent of the participants who received MDMA experienced a clinically significant reduction in their symptoms.
These results have been published in prestigious scientific journals such as Nature Medicine and The Lancet Psychiatry, and have generated a great deal of media and social interest. The FDA is expected to approve the therapeutic use of MDMA for PTSD in 2023, which would be a historic milestone for psychedelic medicine.
Another important MAPS project is the Phase 2 study with therapy-assisted psilocybin for the treatment of major depression. This study is the second of its kind with a psychedelic drug and has also shown encouraging results: 71 percent of participants who received psilocybin plus therapy had a positive clinical response at the end of treatment, compared to 29 percent of those who received niacin (an inactive substance) plus therapy. In addition, 54 percent of participants who received psilocybin achieved complete remission of their symptoms.
Santos Rodríguez, editor of the Psychonaut Guides, and Antón Gómez-Escolar, author and director of the book series along with Sunny Bates and Rick Doblin, MAPS CEO, in Psychedelic Science 23.
These results have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine and have generated great expectation in the scientific and medical community. The FDA is expected to approve the therapeutic use of psilocybin for major depression in 2024 or 2025, which would be another significant advance for psychedelic medicine.
In addition to these studies, MAPS is involved in other research with psychedelics for the treatment of a variety of conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, alcohol use disorder, tobacco use disorder, opioid use disorder, chronic pain, existential anxiety in terminally ill patients, and racial trauma. It is also supporting the development of psychedelic therapy centers, training programs for therapists and guides, harm reduction and public education initiatives, and collaborative networks with like-minded organizations.
MAPS is an organization that is playing an important role in the world of psychedelics by driving scientific research, therapeutic innovation, social change and personal transformation. Its vision is to create a more compassionate, empathetic and peaceful society, where people can access the benefits of psychedelics safely, respectfully and responsibly.
Psychedelic drugs can be a powerful tool for therapeutic purposes. You can discover more about these potential therapeutic effects in Essential Guide to the Psychedelic Renaissance by Antón Gómez-Escolar, we recommend Psychedelics and Mental Health, by Irene de Caso and Your Brain on Psychedelics, by Genís Oña, where you will learn the keys to the effects of psychedelics, capable of producing significant changes in the processes of perception, thought and consciousness. The book also includes a prologue written by one of the greatest eminences in this field, José Carlos Bouso, scientific director of ICEERS.
These books are now available on Amazon in physical and eBook format, as well as Apple Books. In addition, all titles are available in Spanish version on GuiasdelPsiconauta.com