As Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), Rick Doblin, mentioned in the second installment of his three-part interview with Points (Part I is here), the organization — part psychedelic research lab, part advocacy group, and part pharmaceutical company — has begun a slew of interesting and productive studies on the uses of psychedelic drugs like ayahuasca and ibogaine for the treatment of all manner of addictions. In this, the final piece of his talk with Points, Doblin discusses that work. He also expounds upon his and MAPS’ particular understanding of addiction and situates it within a historical context that even includes AA co-founder Bill W.
Points: I know you’re doing some really interesting work on addiction and addiction treatment. That’s an area on which Points frequently focuses, and I think our readers would be particularly interested in hearing about it.
Doblin: Well, if we go all the way back to Carl Jung and the early part of the previous century, he had the sense that there would be a spiritual component to the treatment to addiction. And Bill W. who started AA, tried LSD when he was sober in the 1950s, and he thought that it had tremendous potential for the treatment of addiction. And it’s actually written about in the book Pass it On, which was published by AA about Bill Wilson’s life. [Ed. Note: Speaking of Jung and Bill W., the AA founder’s letter to the philosopher can be read here. Jung’s reply is here.] So the sense is that there is a lot of denial going on in addiction. There are a lot of things that people are not seeing. In a supportive context, psychedelics affect the membrane that separates the conscious from the unconscious. And particularly with the more classic psychedelics like LSD or psilocybin, there is a flood of material that people have tried to suppress or tried to deny, the whole denial process. People make a fuller accounting of their lives and what they’re doing. And then there’s also the potential for a spiritual connection that people have under psychedelics that they can then draw strength from. And based on that connection they can move forward in their lives and feel connected. A lot of drug abusers don’t feel connected to themselves, to others. They are separated from love and they seek support in the drugs. And with a deep spiritual experience that can come from psychedelics, people can draw strength from it.