AUSTIN (KXAN)– On Friday, a celebration marked the grand opening of WITHIN Psychedelic Treatment Center.
Its leaders call it Texas’ first ceremonial psychedelic treatment center, which started seeing patients in May.
The center uses Ketamine for its therapy.
“We do intramuscular injection, they’ll get the injection and they have music running, a kind of orchestrated playlist suited for them. Eye shades go on and they go on the journey,” explained Dr. Eric Miller, medical director of the center.
He said a staff member guides the patient; talking through questions beforehand, making sure the drug is administered safely, then talking about their experience afterward– a sort of drug and therapy session.
“They might say something and the guide’s there to write it down and keep track of… they might see an animal, they might see something, and it might be important,” Miller explained. “But for the most part, it’s really an internal, on-your-own journey.”
WITHIN treats treats people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions, and those battling depression, anxiety, traumas, PTSD, chronic pain or navigating life transitions.
Late last year, The University of Texas at Austin launched its Center for Psychedelic Research and Therapy, starting with research on veterans with PTSD, adults with prolonged grief disorder or depression and those who have experienced childhood trauma.
“What’s been shown thus far in terms of treatments, that psychedelics do appear to be effective for at least a subset of people with certain psychiatric disorders, particularly depression and post traumatic stress disorder,” said Greg Fonzo, co-director of the Center for Psychedelic Research & Therapy, Dell Medical School.
The next phase of their research, he said, is to find out how they can optimize the treatment, delivering it in a way that’ll offer maximum benefit to patients.
“We have some plans to do that, in regards to combining psychedelics with some other forms of treatment modality that we think are going to be effective, including brain stimulation as well as evidence-based psycho-therapy,” Fonzo said.
So far, Fonzo said Ketamine is the only drug approved but others are in the pipeline for psychiatric disorder treatment, like MDMA, or ecstasy, and Psilocybin, the chemical in magic mushrooms.
Fonzo said while he isn’t familiar with the intricacies of WITHIN’s treatment program, he said the concept of combining Ketamine with psychotherapy is a “novel and helpful approach.”
Both he and Miller said while there is no official partnership yet between the two groups, it’s a possibility down the line.
This is WITHIN’s first center but leaders said they have plans to open in three more states by the end of 2023.