Therapeutic Psilocybin for Canadians in End-of-Life Distress

Based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and established in 2019, Thera-Psil is a coalition of healthcare professionals dedicated to providing access to psychedelic-assisted therapy for Canadians in need. 

 

Starting in 2020 with psilocybin treatment for Canadians with a palliative diagnosis and severe psychological distress, Thera-Psil’s team of health care professionals will operate at highest standards of clinical competence and ethical integrity. 

 

For patients, to confidentially enroll in the treatment program, visit our get in touch page.

 

TheraPsil’s 4 Pillar Mission

 

  • TREATMENT: Establish safe, compassionate and legal access to psychedelic-assisted therapy for those in medical need.

 

  • EDUCATION: Increase awareness of general public and health care professionals about merits and limitations of psychedelic-assisted therapy.

 

  • TRAINING: Work with trusted partners to develop safe, simple and effective protocols for credentialed health professionals to deliver psychedelic-assisted therapy.

 

  • RESEARCH: Facilitate research and evaluation, in collaboration with Canadian and international partners.

 

 

TheraPsil’s Values

 

  • Freedom of citizens to exercise their right to try therapies and make their own choices about their personal health and wellbeing 
  • Courage to fight for that right
  • Compassion for patients in medical need and with a palliative diagnosis
  • Responsibility to mitigate suffering and promote well-being of patients

 

Why We Exist… Our Vision

 

  • Canadians in palliative care with severe psychological distress deserve access to effective new therapies, in consultation with a physician, which can improve their quality of life/death.
  • When an effective therapy involves a prohibited/controlled substance, we challenge the laws that are in conflict with science and compassionate care. 
  • Care providers must work collaboratively with patients toward healing vs merely the suppression of psychological trauma, addiction, illness and pain.

 

Where do we start?

 

Our initial focus will be on the provision of compassionate treatment for terminal cancer patients who suffer from end-of-life distress. End-of-life distress is best described as the combination of anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and demoralization experienced by patients who receive a diagnosis of a terminal illness from diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, or heart disease. As research in psychedelic medicine matures, we will further expand our services to include others who may benefit from psilocybin.

 

Treatment of End-of-Life Distress

 

“End-of-life distress” refers to the combination of anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and demoralization experienced by patients who receive a diagnosis of a terminal illness from diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, or heart disease. This emotional distress, which has a wide array of psychosocial and spiritual impacts and may be difficult to treat despite the best available psychotherapies and pharmacotherapies available today. While there is evidence based treatment for End-of-life distress that is not psychedelic based, it is seemingly inadequate; when compared to Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, that has demonstrated considerable success in treating anxiety-related to end-life distress and is an important additional intervention when other therapies have been found to be insufficient for a suffering patient/person.

Each year, approximately 2800 Canadians are given terminal cancer diagnoses, many of whom do not adequately respond to conventional treatment for end-of-life distress. Conventional therapy would include psychotherapy, of which there are many, including CBT, CALM Therapy, Dignity Therapy, Meaning Centred Psychotherapy, and others; as well as pharmacotherapy which would include the use of SSRIs, SNRIs, NDRIs, psychostimulants, and other agents. There is also a lack of consensus regarding what is defined as end of life distress as there is no technical medical diagnosis of “end of life distress”; people instead are treated for depression, anxiety, adjustment disorders. In many cases, their emotional pain interferes with their other medical procedures.

Since 2006, clinical trials and research endeavors at Johns Hopkins University and New York University have demonstrated that psilocybin, the active psychedelic component in what is often called “magic mushrooms,” has promising effects in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and adjustment disorders, in patients who have been given terminally ill cancer diagnoses and have found little relief from traditional methods of treatment.

Psychedelic-assisted therapy has been demonstrated to be a viable and legitimate adjunct or subsequent treatment of end-of-life distress. The studies at Johns Hopkins Medical Centre and New York University led to immediate, substantial, and sustained decreases in depression, death anxiety, cancer-related demoralization, and hopelessness (Ross et al. 2016). Furthermore, these clinical trials resulted in increases in quality of life, life meaning, and overall optimism. At the 6-month follow-up mark, 80% of participants regard their psilocybin experience to be in the top five most spiritually significant experiences of their lives (Griffiths et al. 2016). They subsequently reported improvements in attitudes about life/self, mood, relationships, and spirituality with significantly increased well-being/life satisfaction, and improved attitudes toward death.

 

“At the 6-month follow-up mark, 80% of participants continuing to show clinically significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety”
– Griffiths et a.l 2016

 

Unfortunately, current access to psychedelic assisted psychotherapy this approach to therapy is almost non-existent and remains illegal in Canada. Neither do In addition we do not anticipate these medicines being made available to Canadians in the foreseeable future. At the current rate of progress, it may be years before psilocybin completes Phase 3 clinical trials and becomes available as a legitimate a Health Canada approved medical option. In the meantime, many Canadians continue to suffer from are suffering severely from end-of-life distress, and are in dire need of relief now.

 

 

Scientific Advocacy

 

We are pleased and honored to have the support and encouragement of three eminent American scientists who have been pioneers in the clinical research of psilocybin-assisted therapy. Much of our application is based on the work that they are contributing to modern science.

  • Dr. William Richards, Johns Hopkins Medical Center’s Psilocybin Research

  • Dr. Anthony Bossis, New York University

  • Dr. Charles Grob, Harbor-UCLA

These scientists have agreed to serve as expert witnesses for us in the event of litigation. If necessary, TheraPsil is prepared to fly these scientists to Canada and provide accommodation if summoned to court.

 

 

 

Could you – or a loved one – benefit from psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for end-of-life distress?

We would like to hear from you. Click below to see who qualifies for treatment.

 

 

If you would like to support TheraPsil by making a donation, message us at donations@therapsil.ca

 

 

You can help us move forward towards making psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy available to Canadians facing end-of-life distress.

– Make a donation my messaging us or sending an etransfer to donations@therapisl.ca
– Give a talk to a community group
– Write an op-ed piece or letter for your local newspaper
– Tell your story on this site about how psychedelic medicine has helped you personally
– Follow and Like TPC on Social Media

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