Have you ever heard about psychedelic therapy? It could be the next big thing when it comes to treating mental health disorders.

Experts say you should expect to hear more about this mental wellness treatment this year and ahead.

Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and writer at VeryWell Mind, says, “For a long time psychedelics have been sort of frowned upon. We thought that they were more recreational drugs, but with a closer look, we’ve seen they can actually be really good treatments for things like depression, anxiety, even substance abuse issues.”

Dr. Matthew Johnson of the Johns Hopkins Center of Psychedelics and Consciousness Research says there has been a “dramatic increase in interest recently,” and in the next several years, it is “only going to increase.”

Psychedelics first gained popularity in the 1960s and 1970s. However, they went underground after they were categorized under Schedule 1 Controlled Substance by the US government in 1970.

However, nowadays, many Americans are showing interest in seeking psychedelic therapy, as they are struggling with mental health issues, especially the ones caused by the pandemic.

Dr. Johnson says, “It’s understandable that it’s taken a while to get past the stigma, but… I think within the next year, we’re going to see more federal funding and less of a hesitation.”

Psychedelic therapy is a technique that involves the use of psychedelic substances to aid the therapeutic process, according to VeryWell Mind. Hallucinogenic substances have been used in holistic medicine and for spiritual practices by various cultures for thousands of years.

Dr. Johnson says, “It’s not just giving the drug. It involves a therapeutic relationship, where one is encouraged to dive into the experience and learn something from the experience they have on the substance and then to process it, integrate it (and) discuss it in the days afterwards.”

What drugs are used in psychedelic therapy?

Dr. Johnson explains there are some “dramatically impressive results for a number of really difficult to treat disorders” through the use of psilocybin and MDMA (ecstasy).

He says, “Results have looked really promising using psilocybin to treat cancer-related distress from only a single high-dose administration of psilocybin,” adding there is also work being done with major depressive disorders and addictive disorders.

“Multiple laboratories, including ours, have shown promising results that psilocybin causes large reductions in depression,” he adds. “We’re (also) seeing very high success rates using psilocybin to treat tobacco addiction. And there’s also really promising work using it to treat alcohol addiction.”

However, psychedelic therapy does carry some risks, according to Morin.

She says, “One thing we know is there may be a risk for people that have a family history of psychotic disorders.

“If somebody has a grandparent maybe with schizophrenia, he might not want to try psychedelics, he may have a genetic predisposition for psychosis,” she adds. “So they’re certainly not for everybody.” The article was originally published in USA Today.