Opening Comments (Jim): 

  • Chat Introductions were done,
  • Focusing on return to community: safe housing, relationships, and supporting young adults facing unaccompanied homelessness interests and passions,
  • A quick discussion on data that showed nearly 80% of young adults exiting inpatient treatment became homeless 3-12 months after they left.

The Bridge Scope and Vision (Jim): 

  • High rate of return to homelessness for young people exiting inpatient care,
  • Cross-system information sharing and training,
  • Developing Return To Community Plan,
  • Developing opportunities for systems reform.

Featured Training- Psychedelic Science: Recent Findings and Future Applications

Dr. Sarah Matousek, PhD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor of Public Health at Gonzaga University and a Research Advisor at the University of Washington School of Medicine’s Spokane campus. She holds a PhD in Neurobiology & Anatomy from the University of Rochester and an MPH in Health Policy & Management from Boston University. Dr. Sarah Matousek’s training session on psychedelic science for the Bridge Coalition provided an in-depth exploration of the historical context, common agents, mechanisms of action, and clinical relevance of psychedelics. She traced the history of psychedelic use from ancient times through the prohibition era to the current “psychedelic renaissance,” highlighting key agents such as MDMA, psilocybin, ketamine, ibogaine, Mescaline, LSD, and Ayahuasca (DMT). Dr. Matousek discussed the promising therapeutic applications of psychedelics for mental health and addiction treatment, the scientific mechanisms underlying their effects on the brain, and the ongoing Phase 3 clinical trials for MDMA and psilocybin. She also addressed the challenges and considerations in the field, including regulatory issues, stigma, and the need for precise medical applications. The session concluded with a Q&A, where future directions and implications for the clinical use of psychedelics were discussed.

Presentation Outline:

  • Introduction
  • History of Psychedelics
  • Common Psychedelic Agents Overview
  • Mechanism of Action
  • Research & Clinical Relevance
  • Challenges & Considerations
  • Future Directions & Implications
  • Q&A

Overview of Concepts:

  1. What makes something a “psychedelic”?
  2. Are they safe?
  3. Historical Context

Historical Context:

Ancient Times:

  • Cave paintings of psilocybin in North Africa date back to 4,000 BC.
  • Peyote use in the Americas dates back to 3,700 BC.
  • Traditional use of ayahuasca dates back to 900 BC in Peru.
  • In 1500 AD Europe, peyote use was deemed witchcraft by the Catholic Church.

The Prohibition Era:

  • From the 1890s to the 1960s, psychedelics were isolated, synthesized, and studied:
    • Synthesized: MDMA (1912), LSD (1938), ketamine (1962).
    • Isolated: mescaline (1897), ibogaine (1901), psilocybin (1958).
  • Recreational misuse led to regulations making possession, use, and testing illegal.

The “Psychedelic Renaissance” 2016-2020:

  • Reemergence characterized by therapeutic practices.
  • Increasing acceptance and clinical trials worldwide.

2020 – Present:

  • Two psychedelic agents in Phase 3 Clinical Trials:
    • MDMA for PTSD.
    • Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression.

Common Psychedelic Agents:

  • Ketamine
  • Ibogaine
  • Psilocybin
  • LSD
  • Ayahuasca (DMT)
  • Mescaline
  • MDMA

Effects of Psychedelics on the Brain:

  • Molecular/Cellular:
  • Circuit/Network:
  • Whole Brain:

Psychedelics for Addiction Treatment:

  • Promising for addiction treatment.
  • Combining research and industry for precision medicine.

Key Insights:

Ketamine:

  • Developed as an anesthetic in 1962.
  • Used in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.
  • Mechanism: NMDA glutamate receptor agonist, leading to increased BDNF.
  • Benefits for mental health and addiction.

Psilocybin:

  • Found in mushrooms, effects last 4-6 hours.
  • Mechanism: Metabolized to psilocin, binds to serotonin receptors.
  • Research: Effective for smoking cessation and treatment-resistant depression.

MDMA:

  • Also known as ecstasy, considered an “empathogen.”
  • Mechanism: Blocks monoamine reuptake, facilitates release of oxytocin.
  • Research: Phase 3 trial for PTSD.

Ibogaine:

  • Discovered in 1864, known for opioid detoxification.
  • Subjective experience: intense insights, reflective phases.

LSD:

  • Synthetic tryptamine, primarily serotonergic agonist.
  • Effective for alcoholism, reduces anxiety related to significant life events.

DMT:

  • Naturally occurring, short half-life.
  • Mechanisms: Acts on serotonin receptors, sigma-1 agonist.
  • Research: Phase IIa trial for major depressive disorder.

Ayahuasca:

  • Ceremonial drink, longer-acting DMT.
  • Studies show rapid antidepressant effects and therapeutic benefits for substance use disorders.

Challenges & Considerations:

  • Adverse events
  • Regulatory environment
  • Stigma
  • Misinformation
  • Recreational use

Future Directions and Implications:

  • FDA reclassification proceedings.
  • FDA clearance for clinical use (MDMA on the path).
  • State-based legalization and clinical use allowance.

NorthStar Advocates Updates:

Jim provided a detailed update on NorthStar’s progress and future plans. He highlighted the major NorthStar Advocates milestone, the successful passage of SHB 1929. The legislation focuses on the development and the implementation of two 6-10 bed up to 90-day transitional-type housing programs located in Eastern and Western Washington. The Bridge Return to Community Housing programs are specifically designed to support young adults facing unaccompanied homelessness transitioning from inpatient care back into their communities, ensuring a supportive, stable, and recovery-focused environment.

Jim then detailed the collaborative work with the Health Care Authority (HCA) in developing a Request for Proposals (RFP). This RFP is expected to be uniquely tailored to the needs of each community, ensuring that the housing solutions are both relevant and effective. He outlined a clear timeline for the project’s next steps: finalizing the RFP by July or August, selecting two housing providers shortly thereafter, and having the Bridge Return to Community Housing programs operational by January.

In addition to these logistical updates, Jim shared the important work being done with Youth Advisory Boards (YABs) across the state. The NorthStar Advocates team is developing questions and feedback mechanisms to gather insights from young people about the housing programs. Jim emphasized the importance of incorporating the perspectives of these youth advisory groups into the planning and implementation process. He announced that during the next Bridge Coalition meeting, attendees would have the opportunity to review these questions and provide input, ensuring that the voices of our coalition members and young people are heard and valued in the implementation of the Bridge Return to Community Housing Programs.

Community Updates: 

  • No community updates, but Jim thanked the NorthStar Advocates team for all their work and dedication.

Closing Comments:  

  • Sarah and Jim thanked everyone for their support and participation in this work.
Sarah Spier
Author: Sarah Spier