In 2023, the FDA will grant breakthrough status to Psilocybin – the drug compound found in magic mushrooms – for the treatment of depression. Breakthrough status is a special designation that allows for the fast-tracking of a drug when initial evidence shows it to be more effective than other current medical treatments.
Psychedelics As Therapy
Psilocybin has garnered attention for its ability to treat PTSD and depression more effectively than typical anti-depressants, as documented in clinical trials.
The psychedelic, which is similar in structure to serotonin, has been shown to increase the brain’s ability to make new connections, which allows patients to form new ways of processing past events and negative emotions. Currently available anti-depressants have been criticized for only dulling or numbing emotions, instead of helping the brain change and adapt.
Still, the negative connotations of hallucinogens, and abuse of the drug, have a lot of employers wondering how this will impact their drug testing programs, and if they should be concerned about its use among employees.
Limited Access, Less Worry For Employers
Application of the drug will be heavily regulated, which should ease employer concerns. Psilocybin therapy will first roll out in Oregon, the first state to legalize its use for treatment of depression. As of 2023, it will only be available to specially licensed treatment facilities and administered by technicians who have received extensive training, plus continued educational training to maintain their licensure. The growers are also carefully regulated, from production to delivery. All patients seeking treatment must first complete an intake process before they can undergo a treatment session in the presence of a technician.
Should You Test Your Employees for Hallucinogens?
Given that Psilocybin will only be accessible in a supervised setting, employers might want to hold off on testing for psilocybin, unless they have reason to suspect an employee of using hallucinogens. Since psilocybin is quickly metabolized, its effects on the body and detection in urine is usually gone within 24 hours.
Cost and Collection Considerations
Hallucinogens are not part of the typical drug screen panel. Adding the test for psilocybin nearly doubles the cost of a typical 5 panel drug test, and, due to light-sensitive collection and transportation procedures, in many cases employers might find it more of a hassle than a help.
A Wait and See Approach
Still, employers would be wise to follow any changes to laws, and the potential relaxing of protocols in the years ahead, to determine if increased access to hallucinogens might impact their workforce and warrant adding it to their drug test panels in the future.