Shifting the Addiction Paradigm
Psychedelic Renaissance: Current practices and what it means for the world of addiction treatment.
A lot has happened since our first “Shifting the Addiction Paradigm” conference more than six years ago. The topic that first year was “Attachment and Addiction,” and looking back it’s now hard to believe that our suggestion that dangerous habitual behaviors be viewed through a psychotherapeutic lens of attachment was rather novel at the time, and that the subsequent connection between trauma and addiction that we discussed was far from mainstream. As time went on, however, we moved further away from a strictly “hijacked brain”/disease approach to addiction, the concept of “harm reduction” became part of popular nomenclature and harm-reductionists such as us were no longer shunned from mainstream conferences as heretics. In fact, in a lot of ways, the giant shift we predicted at our first conference is currently cresting—and some of the results are truly revolutionary.
What’s the next wave we armchair futurists see headed for the field of problematic habits? Psychedelics, on the tongues of just about anyone willing to look beyond the ideology of disease, are the obvious answer, and the shift to these compounds largely a welcome one for those of us who hold a humanist ethos. In the right hands, psychedelics are fine assistants for addressing attachment, self-compassion and larger existential concerns in our practices, not to mention good tools for those of us who see painful habits where our professional ancestors and colleagues saw disease. In the wrong hands? Well, they are just more B.S.
Like harm-reduction orientation, the use of psychedelics for recovery is an age-old underground approach that’s been knocking for decades at the door of a paradigm that is now shifting. This conference will feature experienced practitioners, including many who will be coming from below ground to above; those who rely on traditional practices, as well as those who employ more modern ones (including twelve-step approaches); and psychiatrists experienced in the psychedelic space who will each discuss the ways in which these medicines might assist us.
In this, we aim to lend our humble hand to the next possible shift from the tired, repetitive, ruminative notion that addiction is explainable as a distinct disease of the brain and infuse our field with the kind of plasticity, curiosity and search for novelty that the current psychedelic renaissance promises.