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Silicon Valley Engineers Psychedelic Drug to Treat Addiction

Silicon Valley startup, MindMed, is in the business of turning psychedelic drugs into medicine, and its first drug with the potential to treat addiction may be just around the corner. The drug is said to have the ability to turn addictions “off like a light switch,” including alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, morphine and even sugar.

Known as 18-MC, the compound has not been tested yet in human efficacy trials, but it’s been in the works for nearly a decade. In June 2019, MindMed bought 18-MC from Savant Health and Wellness Partners, after the company ran out of money to continue with the product.

According to initial test results, 18-MC does not affect the heart or cause hallucinations. Researchers believe it can work to treat addiction by indirectly modulating the release of dopamine that occurs with addictive drugs. MindMed plans to run safety trials and efficacy trials in 2020.

Besides additional testing, MindMed faces other challenges, such as getting the FDA on board. While the compound may be cleared for use in a medical office, it may never be legalized or permitted for use at home.

In his latest book, “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence,” Michael Pollan delves into the potential benefits of hallucinogenic drugs. Pollan, like most, was under the impression that psychedelics were a product of the 1960s, but in fact, researchers had already studied psychedelics for some 15 years, primarily as treatments for addiction, depression and relieving the fear of death among those dying from cancer — the very same indications for which these drugs are being studied today.

Psychedelics quiet the area of the brain where negative narratives live, allowing you to get out of whatever destructive thought pattern you might be in. As such they may also be useful for obsessive-compulsive disorder and addictions of all kinds. The good news is, you’re not restricted to psychedelic drugs to achieve similar benefits. A consistent meditation and/or breathing practice can help you reap similar benefits, albeit over a longer period of time.