PT419 – Ketamine-Assisted Therapy for Severe Alcohol Use Disorder

June 27, 2023
Featuring: Professor Celia Morgan, Ph.D.

In this episode, David interviews Professor Celia Morgan, Ph.D., who holds the Chair of Psychopharmacology and co-leads the Transdisciplinary Psychedelics Group at The University of Exeter.

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In this episode, David interviews Professor Celia Morgan, Ph.D., who holds the Chair of Psychopharmacology and co-leads the Transdisciplinary Psychedelics Group at The University of Exeter.

This was recorded on the dawn of UK’s Breaking Convention conference, where Morgan was speaking about the therapeutic potential of ketamine as well as the danger of people developing a dependence on it. She touches on that topic, but largely discusses her current Phase III Trial for ketamine-assisted therapy for the treatment of severe alcohol use disorder (also called the KARE model (Ketamine for reduction of Alcohol Relapse)), a collaboration with Awakn Life Sciences.

She discusses her other research: studies on mindfulness intervention before and after ketamine, epigenetic changes after ayahuasca use, the antidepressant qualities of ayahuasca, and CBD for cannabis dependence. And she talks about the necessary balance for making treatments amazing but affordable; how connecting with nature during integration is key; how the drug is just a tool, yet we focus on it too much; and how we need studies on how different therapies work with different substances.

Notable Quotes

“People always focus on the drugs, but it’s more about the people, and as you say, their relationship – what you’re getting from that experience. The drugs themselves are just tools. You can hit someone over the head with a spade, but you can dig an amazing garden. I see the drugs as the spade, basically, but obviously a really unusual spade.”

“Taking a step back from your thoughts and not being over-engaged with everything you’re doing; the ketamine really helps to facilitate that, because they can see how that works. Mindfulness can be really tricky. Mindfulness practice is hard work. So I see this as a big step that makes it work better in that first bit, especially when people are struggling. …Ketamine, to my mind, gives this kind of boost and insight that can help engage them with the therapy going forward.” 


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University of Exeter department of Psychology: Professor Celia Morgan

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Celia Morgan

In this Episode

Professor Celia Morgan, Ph.D.

Celia Morgan holds the Chair of Psychopharmacology at the University of Exeter. She started her career in psychology, working in drug treatment services in London, then went on to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at University College London with research focused on ketamine. Over her 25 year career, she has examined the impact of other substances such as MDMA, LSA, and ayahuasca on psychological processes, and as treatments for mental health issues. She now leads the psychopharmacology group at University of Exeter and co-leads the Transdisciplinary Psychedelics group. She lives by the ocean in Cornwall with her partner, two children, and dog Momo.

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