Novel Treatment Approaches for Substance Use Disorders: Therapeutic Use of Psychedelics and the Role of Psychotherapy

Michael Koslowski, Matthew W. Johnson, Gerhard Gründer, Felix Betzler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of Review: The use of psychedelics in a therapeutical setting has been reported for the treatment of various diagnoses in recent years. However, as psychedelic substances are still commonly known for their (illicit) recreational use, it may seem counterintuitive to use psychedelic therapy to treat substance use disorders. This review aims to discuss how psychedelics can promote and intensify psychotherapeutic key processes, in different approaches like psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral therapy, with a spotlight on the treatment of substance use disorders (SUD). Recent Findings: There is promising evidence of feasibility, safety, and efficacy of psychedelic therapy in SUD. In the whole process of former and current psychedelic therapy regimes that have shown to be safe and efficacious, various psychotherapeutic elements, both psychodynamic and behavioral as well as other approaches, can be identified, while a substantial part of the assumed mechanism of action, the individual psychedelic experience, cannot be distinctly classified to just one approach. Summary: Psychedelic therapy consists of a complex interaction of pharmacological and psychological processes. When administered in well-defined conditions, psychedelics can serve as augmentation of different psychotherapy interventions in the treatment of SUD and other mental disorders, regardless of their theoretical origin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-58
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Addiction Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Addiction
  • CBT
  • LSD
  • Psilocybin
  • Psychedelics
  • Psychodynamic
  • Psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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