Psychedelic Science - Between Personal Growth, Autonomy, and (Over-)Medicalization

Monday, November 25, 18:30 - 19:45, University of Zurich, KO2-F-150 (PLEASE NOTE DIFFERENT LECTURE HALL)

Dr. Larissa J. Maier
Postdoc at the Department of Clinical Pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

The resurgence of interest in psychedelic substances for mental health and substance use disorder treatment in recent years has opened the doors for dialogues related to potential benefits and harms. The Global Drug Survey 2019 has shown that people who had previously used psychedelic substances were more likely to consider these substances to assist psychotherapy when compared to those without such an experience. A low dose of LSD or psilocybin was the preferred choice when offered alongside other substances and different doses. While mental health is the gateway to psychedelic medicine, recreational use of psychedelic substances to seek altered states of mind that may or may not be associated with spirituality and personal growth is still the most prevalent form of use as of today. In the U.S., several cities have launched educational campaigns such as Decriminalize Nature that aim to decriminalize entheogenic plants and to restore humans' root connection to nature to improve health and well-being. This presentation will discuss how these developments fit within the broader context of drug policy reform and how future policies should conceptualize safe spaces for the use of psychedelic substances both in recreational and therapeutic settings. Finally, a critical reflection will assess how to prevent that (over-)medicalization negatively impacts the autonomy of marginalized communities.

Larissa Maier received her Ph.D. from the University of Zurich at the Swiss Research Institute for Public Health and Addiction (ISGF). In 2017, she was appointed as a consultant in Drug Use Epidemiology at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna. Larissa is a member of the Core Research Team of Global Drug Survey (GDS) aiming to make drug use safer, regardless of the legal status of the drug. She is currently leading the Science Policy Group (SPG) and the Psychedelic and Entheogen Academic Council (PEAC) at UCSF and is a member of the U.S. National Science Policy Network (NSPN). In addition, she serves on several committees to facilitate international relations, diversity, and early career networks at the European Society of Prevention Research (EUSPR), the International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP), the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (ISSDP), the Society for Prevention Research (SPR), and the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD).