WHAT: How To Volunteer For Psychedelic Clinical Trials
In the late 1960s, becoming a volunteer for psychedelic clinical trials offered two options. Firstly, sign up to work alongside outlier academic institutions doing serious psychedelic research. Secondly, do it yourself, and join the acid-fueled counter-cultural experiment sweeping the festivals, parks, and public spaces of the US.
During this period, hardly a month passed without the emergence of fresh clinical data suggesting psychedelics produced profound psychological upswings in sufferers of alcoholism, addiction, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and more. Sadly, these voices were drowned out by TV images of half-naked hippies protesting on university campuses. Instead of focusing on their life-changing benefits, the media lambasted psychedelics as the poster child for a movement hellbent on the corrosion of middle-class American values. Consequently, in the summer of 1966, the US government pulled the trigger on the psychedelic hit job that would cripple research for decades. Psychedelics were criminalized and funding was axed. After that, psychedelic research ground to a halt, and countless promising avenues of inquiry closed off
After decades spent in legal hiatus, the FDA and DEA have approved controlled psychedelic research for certain conditions. As psychedelic therapy receives the legal green light to proceed, the media focus has shifted from frenzied portrayals of decades past to trained therapists administering measured doses with therapeutic intent.
Research compounds include LSD, MDMA, 2C-B, Ibogaine, Dimethyltryptamine, Ketamine, and psilocybin, the psychoactive compound that puts the ‘magic’ in magic mushrooms. And, as expected, it’s working. Terminally ill people, psychotherapy seekers, PTSD-afflicted military veterans, and many others are experiencing the immense value of psychedelics as tools for self-improvement.
Arguably, the most fascinating observations have come from terminally ill patients. Even in the face of their own imminent demise, many reported a renewed sense of existential meaning and increased clarity concerning priorities and personal values. Essentially, they were just far less terrified about their own deaths. So, if you’re sick, addicted, depressed, traumatized, and/or dying, then you could be the perfect candidate to volunteer for psychedelic research trials.
Not all psychedelic research institutions require volunteers to be at death’s door or suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, or addiction. However, it might just help your case. In many cases, professional research institutions received governmental permission to conduct psychedelic trials only in order to prove their effectiveness in a medical context. It depends on the institution. Psychedelic studies are at various stages, enrolling both healthy and non-healthy volunteers.
Although the specific criteria for acceptance vary, the basic requirements are pretty much the same. For example, you’ll need to be:
- Over 18.
- Willing to give a blood sample.
- Willing to meet with a cardiologist.
- Available for multiple sessions stretched out over weeks or months.
- Happy to complete questionnaires, and in some cases, have your sessions recorded on video.
- Screened and questioned about your medical and psychiatric history. In many cases, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, or other serious mental or physical conditions will disqualify you as a potential candidate.
Before committing to becoming a volunteer for psychedelic clinical trials, find out what to expect in terms of duration, intensity, compensation, ongoing meetings, and other requirements. Each study comes with its own set of protocols. Remember to read the small print.
Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelics and Consciousness, Baltimore, Maryland.
The Hakomi Institute, San Francisco, California.
Imperial College, London.
University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland.
- The primary goal of research institutions is to discover the optimum dosage; one that maximizes benefits and minimizes possible negative side effects, such as bad trips. Therefore, research institutions do all they can to maximize the safety and comfort of these experiences. However, as a volunteer for psychedelic trials, you’re essentially still the guinea pig.
- While these extreme experiences are not dangerous per se, the surfacing of strong emotions or memories may be psychologically challenging for some. This underscores the value of a safe environment and the presence of an experienced psychedelic therapist
Psychedelic clinical trials take place in an environment where the “set” and “setting” are structured to foster the best possible experience. Clinical trials have yielded amazingly positive results in people suffering from depression, anxiety, and various addictions. Similarly, otherwise healthy volunteers also claim a wealth of emotional and psychological benefits. As well as getting paid, volunteers are assisting researchers to better understand this groundbreaking and truly unique area of research.