You may have heard about psychedelic studies in the news recently, but did you know there is an association dedicated to researching psychedelics that has been around for over 35 years? The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a leading nonprofit research organization that is dedicated to investigating the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.

Why Did MAPS Start?

MAPS was founded in 1986 by Rick Doblin.

“One year after MDMA is deemed illegal by the FDA, Rick founded MAPS as a research and educational organization with the goal of proving to the world (and the US government) that when coupled with therapy, psychedelics were an effective PTSD treatment.”

Some of the most well-known psychedelics include LSD, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), MDMA, and DMT. While psychedelics have been used for centuries by indigenous cultures for religious and spiritual purposes, they gained mainstream attention in the West during the countercultural movement of the 1960s. 

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in psychedelics. This is thanks to a growing body of scientific evidence suggesting these substances could be used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

MAPS Research

A lot of this research has been heavily supported by MAPS, and they are partnered with several universities doing psychedelic research. Over the past 35+ years, MAPS has conducted extensive research on psychedelics and laid the groundwork for clinical trials testing the efficacy of these substances in treating mental health conditions.

“In 2014, the MAPS Public Benefit Corporation (MAPS PBS) was founded in anticipation of FDA approval of MDMA-Assisted Therapy for PTSD. This year is also when MAPS published results from the first study of LSD therapy in over 40 years.”

“With Nature Medicine’s publication of our first FDA Phase 3 trial of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD, MAPS continues to be the leader of psychedelic research.”

The results of the first clinical trial,

“published on May 10, 2021, in Nature Medicine, were statistically significant, with 88% of participants responding to the treatment and a favorable safety profile.”

MAPS research on MDMA has continued, and just achieved a new milestone this November with the completion of their second Phase 3 trial of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD. In a press release, Doblin says,

“The completion of data gathering in our second Phase 3 study of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD is a critical milestone in MAPS’ 36-year campaign to obtain FDA approval for the therapeutic use of MDMA. I’m proud of our team of therapists, staff, donors, funders, and especially the brave patients who volunteered to confront their trauma in our studies.”

Currently, there are limited treatment options available for people suffering from mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. These conditions can be extremely debilitating and often lead to suicidal thoughts or behaviors. MAPS research on psychedelic-assisted therapy is showing the potential to provide lasting relief from these conditions with relatively few side effects.

What is MAPS Researching?

Research on psychedelics at MAPS has been going on since its foundation in 1986. A great deal of focus has been given to MDMA, but many other psychedelic substances have been and are being studied.

MDMA Research

LSD Research

Ibogaine Research

Ayahuasca Research

In addition to their therapeutic potential, psychedelic substances like these could also be used to enhance well-being and help people deal with existential distress (i.e., feelings of meaninglessness or smallness in the face of life’s challenges). As more and more people are struggling with mental health issues, it’s important that we have effective treatments available that can help people live fuller, happier lives.

How Can I Learn More About MAPS?

If you’re interested in learning more about MAPS or supporting their work, you can visit their website at maps.org. You can also follow them on social media (@MAPS on Twitter), and we recommend checking out their podcast for interesting and informative discussions on psychedelic news and research from today’s top experts.