Joost Breeksema, director of the OPEN Foundation, made an appearance on Tuesday’s episode of Dutch talkshow OP1. The conversation delved into the use of psychedelics in psychiatry. Retired professional cyclist Thomas Dekker explained how he used magic truffles to fight his depression after leaving the sport. Joost joined the table as an expert on therapeutic applications of psychedelics and a proponent of a programmatic research and implementation programme.
With the attendance of Dutch Minister of Health, Ernst Kuipers, the discussion shed light on the therapeutic applications of psychedelics and the importance of more research in this field. Minister Kuipers expressed his enthusiasm for the ongoing research and thanked Joost for showing him the work being done at the University Medical Centre in Groningen, stating that it was very impressive.
During the conversation, Joost emphasised the importance of further large-scale research, regulatory frameworks and proper education of the public in order to protect vulnerable people in society. After the show he stated: “Although there isn’t enough time in a talkshow to convey all the nuances of this subject, it was still very encouraging to receive support from unexpected sources such as a professional athlete, the minister and the broadcasting company. The use of magic truffles to treat depression, as discussed by Thomas Dekker, still is a grey area that requires clinical testing and oversight before being approved for treatment.”
Minister Kuipers also publicly announced the establishment of a new state commission which aims to provide advice on the status of MDMA within the context of public health and the advantages and disadvantages of medicinal use.
It is a promising development that a topic as significant as the use of psychedelics in psychiatry was discussed on one of the Netherlands’ largest talkshows, with over 1.8 million viewers tuning in. This discussion has the potential to reduce the stigma associated with the use of illicit drugs in psychotherapy and encourages further research and exploration of therapeutic applications of psychedelics. We hope that this conversation will lead to more progress and support for scientific research in this area, ultimately benefiting those who suffer from mental illness.
On Monday, March 6th 2023, the report ‘Therapeutic applications of psychedelics’was presented to Dutch minister Ernst Kuipers of the ministry department Health, Well-being, and Sport. Joost Breeksema, executive director of the OPEN Foundation and co-author of the report, was one of the organisers of this event that took place at the University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG). The report discusses the current state of the therapeutic applications of psychedelics and details the various opportunities, challenges, and recommendations regarding research and implementation of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy in health care.
A Dutch version of this blog post can be found here.
It is estimated that approximately 200,000 individuals in the Netherlands suffer from severe psychiatric disorders such as treatment-resistant depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, despite currently available treatment in healthcare. Last year Dutch minister Kuipers was already positive about the potential therapeutic application of psychedelics within this group of patients. At the University Medical Centre Groningen, Kuipers was further informed regarding the current state of psychedelics and talked to researchers, therapists, and patients. Similar to last year, Kuipers has shown approval and enthusiasm regarding psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy (PAT).The report ‘Therapeutic applications of psychedelics’ was presented to Kuipers during a mini-symposium at UMCG by managing director of ZonMw, Véronique Timmerhuis. ZonMw is a Dutch organisation that subsidises scientific research to develop and innovate healthcare. The report is written by professor of psychiatry Robert Schoevers, researcher and OPEN executive director Joost Breeksema, and neuroscientist Rutger Boesjes, commissioned by ZonMw.
The report describes the current state of affairs regarding PAT, including the various target populations that could be eligible to receive this particular treatment, but also the various opportunities, barriers, and challenges regarding scientific research and the ultimate implementation of PAT. Furthermore, it offers several recommendations, such as a national research program that could be able to facilitate fast, efficient, and coordinated knowledge developments within the current rapidly developing field. Finally, the report focuses on the development of accredited education institutes to secure the quality of PAT.
Joost Breeksema mentioned after the mini-symposium that “it is very promising to see so much interest in this subject: from ZonMw, the political arena, and from the top of the ministry department of Health, Well-being, and Sport. Similarly, Erwin Krediet, chair of Stitching OPEN, was present during the mini-symposium and said “it was an absolute milestone.” Krediet additionally added that “it was impressive to see how quickly the attitude towards psychedelics is changing – politicians and employees of the ministry were talking about psychedelics in a way that suggests there is not that much stigma left regarding the therapeutic use of these substances.”
Breeksema also gave a brief presentation towards the audience. He talked about how since the founding of OPEN foundation in 2007, a lot has changed: “attention towards psychedelics is generally positive. Not only between scientists, psychologists, and psychiatrists, but also in the media. These messages are received by a lot of patients currently suffering from a severe psychiatric disorder. However, it is very rare for these individuals to receive treatment other than enrolling in a clinical trial with psychedelics. This development increases the risk of patients seeking care outside regular healthcare or self-experimentation with psychedelics, which in turn increases the risk for incidents and adverse events.
The field is making significant and rapid developments in the past two years. For instance, there are tens of millions of dollars in investments and numerous studies being conducted by the pharmaceutical industry. It is highly likely that different types of psychedelics will be registered as approved medication in the upcoming years. At the same time, an important point of consideration is that we develop the necessary expertise and therapists in order to professionally administer these substances and provide the necessary after-care and integration.
Breeksema: “It would be very valuable if the Netherlands could be at the forefront regarding this area of development and demonstrate how a tight cooperation between all interested parties can lead to safe and careful implementation of PAT in current healthcare. Despite many positive developments, we need to proceed with caution and remain critical regarding PAT. These substances are able to induce very confronting experiences that could be painful and complicated to comprehend. This requires professional facilitation and guidance in order to accompany this process.”
Ultimately, Breeksema thinks that the message has been received by Dutch minister Kuipers, particularly regarding the necessity for more and bigger research. Kuipers acknowledges that he sees the importance from a systematic approach – it will take too long for these treatments to arrive at patients when we only have a handful of small studies. Breeksema agrees: “this is something we emphasise in particular in the report.”
After the mini-symposium, there was room for a private session with some patients, therapists and minister Kuipers. Breeksema: “I am very happy that minister Kuipers and member of parliament Wieke Paulusma took the time to talk with both therapists and patients about their experiences with psychedelics. Those sessions are not always easy and I think that we clearly showed how significant it is to take patients seriously and that professional guidance by healthcare practitioners, which includes training as well, remains an essential requirement for the success of these treatments.”
Wow, we’re already on the final day of ICPR 2022! We’ll hear from Roland Griffiths (virtually), trial participants, Rick Doblin, Gitte Moos Knudsen, Bernardo Kastrup and others on topics such as MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, indigenous medicine, business, microdosing, and critical perspectives on the quality of psychedelic research.
Just before lunch, there will be a screening in the Wasson Room of the film Descending the Mountain at 11:50, followed by a Q&A with co-producer Annette Badenhorst. At that same time, Corine de Boer will give an update on MDMA-assisted therapy in Europe, followed by Rick Doblin who will give an overview of the work of MAPS on MDMA.
This will be a hard block to choose from, because at the same time we’ll hear from participants of psychedelic trials in the Shulgin Room.
After lunch, Bernardo Kastrup will give a keynote speech on how the effects of psychedelic point towards a much bigger puzzle about the nature of reality – while the Wasson Room will feature talks on Indigenous medicine in and beyond the Amazon.
For reflecting on three days of psychedelic discourse, there will be a closing panel starting at 17:30, with time to relax and connect afterward. For those who have signed up for the afterparty in Amsterdam: see you there! (Afterparty has a waitlist – check your email for more info)!
As for recordings for all rooms, we’ll need time to process. Most talks will be available for later viewing, but there is no timeline available for this yet. We’ll keep you posted.
And we’re off! After an amazing, warm and inspiring first day where we hugged old friends and greeted new faces, we’re now on to our second day of ICPR! Hopefully everyone knows their way around the building (and to the different “toiletten” tucked in the building) a bit more.
Friday Highlights Some highlights of Friday are LSD Research, the mainstreaming of psychedelics, the future of funding, and psychedelic neuroscience.
David Nutt and Amanda Feilding will dive into the neuroscience of psychedelics in the morning. And Bill Richards will give an update about his work around palliative care and psychedelics – some of the longest-running research into the possibility of psychedelics to relieve suffering of terminal patients. While Torsten Passie will teach lessons from the first wave of psychedelic research in the mid-20th century.
One panel will be about the mainstreaming and commercialisation of the psychedelic field and will include Rick Doblin, VICE-journalist Shayla Love, North Star project leader Julia Mande and professor in clinical pharmacology and long-time psychedelics researcher Matthias Liechti. The conversation will be hosted by journalist Thijs Roes.
Having such a wide range of topics on one day again shows the value of having an interdisciplinary conference. So again, on this Friday, there is again so much to choose from.
Highlighted topic of the day: LSD From its accidental discovery to its long-lasting effects, and now a renewed interest in the therapeutic potential of the substance in modern psychiatry: lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is unique in the world of psychedelics. On day 2 of ICPR, you will hear from Friederike Holze and Peter Gasser about the recently published results of one of the biggest trials with LSD in the treatment of anxiety with or without a life-threatening illness.
After many months of planning, ICPR 2022 is finally here! In this post, we’d like to look ahead to the first day of ICPR: Thursday. Here are some highlights, to help you with your planning for the three days of psychedelic science. You can find the full programme here for all the specifics about who is where and when. The full list of speakers and presenters is on the ICPR website. If you have an in-person or livestream ticket already, be sure to check your e-mail for all the latest news and updated – like getting access to our new OPEN Community Platform.
ICPR 2022 will be hosted at the Philharmonie building in Haarlem from approximately 9:00 to 18:00 each day across three stages, which include the Huxley Hall, the Shulgin Stage, and the Wasson Room. Lunch will be served in the main hall and poster presenters will have their own room.
On Wednesday, we’re first holding The Psychedelic Science, Ethics & Business event, featuring in-depth discussions about the way forward in the business side of psychedelics. Supplemental live stream tickets are still available for those who need them and more information is here.
Let’s now dive into the programme so you can get planning and make sure you don’t miss any of the action!
On the first morning of ICPR 2022, Joost Breeksema, director of the OPEN Foundation, will kick things off with an official opening at Huxley Hall at 9:15. This will be followed by chemist David Nichols, who will set the scene with an overview of psychedelics from prehistory to the present. After that, the presentations will generally run parallel.
Later highlights of this first day are neuroscientist Kim Kuypers about microdosing, mycologist Paul Stamets about synthetic psilocybin vs. psilocybin mushrooms and the three interesting panel discussions in the afternoon. Topics will be psychedelic research in the Netherlands, therapist self-experience, and the relative novelty of psychedelic compounds.
Be sure to take a good look at the programme so you can plan accordingly. Because other topics for this first day will range from the commercialisation of psychedelics to mysticism, 5-MeO-DMT for depression, diversity and inclusion in the field, and psychedelic aesthetics.
To round off the day, there will be a musical performance by Vincent Moon at the Shulgin Stage (de Kleine Zaal).
In its preliminary form, the ICPR 2022 Conference Programme has been posted on the ICPR website. In the coming weeks, we will highlight its parts separately.
With the Conference Programme now live on the ICPR website, we would like to showcase all that is happening in Amsterdam and Haarlem around our conference between the 17th and 24th of September. Because outside the conference, there will be tons to do in Haarlem and Amsterdam in the week before and after ICPR, organized or co-hosted by the OPEN Foundation. Like workshops, parties and events.
ICPR 2022 GENERAL INFO
ICPR 2022 will be held from Thursday, September 21st until Saturday, September 23rd. Around 80 speakers and poster presenters will hold live presentations at the stunning Philharmonie building, a 19th-century concert hall in Haarlem.
Haarlem is a small city close to Amsterdam, about 20 minutes from Amsterdam Central Station and a 10-minute walk from Haarlem’s. We encourage people to arrive by public transport and foot.
ICPR is attended by some of the biggest names in psychedelic research and therapy, including Rick Doblin, Erika Dyck, Paul Stamets, Amanda Feilding, Bernardo Kastrup, and many other people who have played active roles in the development of the psychedelic field in the past five decades. Alongside these established researchers, upcoming talents in the field will give presentations and present posters that provide a brief overview of their most recent work. Free organic and vegetarian lunch, coffee, tea, snacks, and more are included with an in-person ticket.
As expected of the OPEN Foundation and from previous conferences, this edition will again contain high-quality science and critical perspectives from various academic disciplines, varying from neuroscience to policymaking, philosophy and the humanities.
For anyone interested in the ideas and challenges surrounding psychedelics, as they again become a part of contemporary society, ICPR 2022 is an embarrassment of riches!
novel treatment advances with 5-MeO-DMT (5-methoxy-dimethyltryptamine), a substance that is considered to be the most potent psychedelic.
Its relative, DMT, is also being explored and discussed for individuals who are suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD) .
Other compounds known as entactogens, which include MDMA and its analog ‘methylone’, are presented for both MDD and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Beyond psychiatry, ICPR will examine the potential use of LSD and psilocybin in navigating end-of-life anxiety for the terminally ill, as well as the use of psilocybin for migraines and cluster headaches.
Additionally, ICPR 2022 will explore the potential of novel compounds (e.g. psychoplastogens) versus existing compounds like psilocybin and LSD, how to overcome challenges around trial design like issues around placebos, expectation, hype, the ‘Michael Pollan effect’, and the potential obstacles to psychedelic therapy becoming a reality in the near future.
We’ll discuss some of the most important questions IN to psychedelic therapy today:
What dominant discourses, such as the ‘psychedelic renaissance’, should we challenge?
What is the role and function of a therapist’s self-experience with psychedelics?
How can we mitigate transgressions and abuse?
How can we include patient perspectives in setting up clinical trials?
How can we consider inclusion, diversity, and anti-racism within the field of psychedelics?
What’s the roles and risks of businesses and patenting in the future psychedelic commercial field?
What should psychedelic education look like?
How will psychedelic therapy legally be implemented in existing health care stuctures?
ICPR Side Events
Saturday, September 17th
Join us in starting ICPR 2022 by tuning into the right mindset! This event consists of an immersive 4-hour musical and meditative journey performed by a group of highly talented musicians and pioneering sound engineers. It is entirely free and donation-based, and will be broadcast live from the legendary Wisseloord Studio in Hilversum, where artists such as Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, The Police, Foo Fighters, Electric Light Orchestra and many others have recorded albums. Everyone attending ICPR (either in-person or online) can experience this amazing journey from their own homes. Do not miss it!
Wednesday, September 21st
Psychedelic Science, Ethics & Business
ICPR starts off this year with the Psychedelic Science Ethics & Business event. The day will be dedicated to an in-depth and critical discussion about the intersection of psychedelic research, treatments, and investment. We will discuss how the growing economy around psychedelics impacts science and therapy. The event consists of various leading experts from different fields, including psychedelic businesses, academia, non-profit organisations, and investment companies.
We’ll address questions such as: What is needed to bridge the gap between doing scientific research in a lab environment and eventually practising psychedelic therapy with patients? How can investment and the proliferation of startups be made compatible with core values and public benefit, including optimal patient care, and accessible and equitable treatments? What are potential business models for psychedelics? What does that mean for access and quality? And much more!
If you’re an entrepreneur, investor, executive, researcher, clinician, or someone who cares about these developments, you will walk away from this conference with unique insights into how psychedelic science can be translated into practice.
Are you more interested in the practice of psychedelic therapy or learning about the most recent developments that surround it? We’ve got you covered! On Wednesday, September 21st, we have three amazing workshops to choose from facilitated by the leading experts in their respective fields.
The Psychotherapy with Psychedelics Workshop is dedicated to current and future therapists who are interested in the practice of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Important learning objectives include the core competencies and skills for therapists working with psychedelics, key elements for preparing patients and helping them with integration after psychedelic sessions or getting a better understanding of different psychological and neurobiological explanatory models for the therapeutic effects of psychedelics.
During this workshop, people will learn from the world’s most experienced clinicians in the field, including clinical psychologists Janis Phelps, PhD and William (Bill) Richards, PhD, and psychiatrist Torsten Passie, MD. Please note that this workshop is already sold out!
The Music as/for Psychedelic Therapy Workshop is hosted by Mendel Kaelen, who is the founder and CEO of Wavepaths. During this workshop, you will learn about how you can effectively guide patients and optimise therapeutic outcomes through the combined use of psychedelics and music.
The Breathwork as Psychedelic Therapy Workshop will be hosted by Katrien Franken and OpenUp. During this workshop, you will learn about and engage inbreathing exercises. This practice has been used for centuries by ancient and native cultures for cultivating expanded states of consciousness in order to facilitate transformative experiences that deepen the connection between body and mind.
SPECIAL EVENTS AT ICPR 2022
With approximately 100 presenters, more than 60 poster presentations, various plenary lectures, panel discussions, Q&A sessions, and lots of interaction with other attendees, you become a part of the pioneering and leading scientific conference in Europe since 2007. On top of that, there will be a musical soundscape hosted by Wavepaths and live music sessions performed by Spinoza. Each day will have special events that you may attend and that are listed below.
Thursday, September 22nd
Merge Come join us on the evening of ICPR’s first day with MERGE. This immersive, experiential gathering of the psychedelic research community will be hosted by Tactogen and ICPR, and is open to everyone.
Whether you are deeply involved in psychedelic research or are interested in getting more involved, all present will unite and come together for an evening dedicated towards creating connection, relaxation and inspiration. Dr. Tehseen Noorani and Scarlet Masius will be leading groups through interactive games to build collaborative opportunities for interdisciplinary research. Note that the attendance for this special event is free, but registration is required (maximum of 150 people).
Vincent Moon The second event of the night is an art performance by Vincent Moon, known for his “live-cinéma.” Vincent’s performance improvises live-edited images, music and film on-stage – to explore the boundaries between cinema, music, and expanded forms of modern rituals. Each performance contains a unique combination of films and music based on the recordings of his own Collection Petites Planètes, and created partly in collaboration with writer and explorer Priscilla Telmon. All the performances are site-specific and sometimes involve local musicians and participants, leading to a new film being created on the spot every time.
Friday, September 23rd
Networking dinner On the second day of ICPR, there will be a professional networking dinner for clinicians and therapists currently involved or planning to become involved in clinical research or treatment with psychedelics. This event will only be accessible to professional ticket holders. Be sure to get your ticket soon, as only a few tickets are remaining!
Saturday 24th September
Descending the Mountain All good things unfortunately must come to an end,but we will close things out with a bang. We’ll celebrate ICPR’s final day with a screening of the phenomenal documentary Descending the Mountain, followed by a Q & A with the movie’s producer, Annette Badenhorst.
ICPR Afterparty To top it all off, we have organised an official ICPR Afterparty. This is free for all attendees, but registration is required. Be sure to do this on time so you do not miss it! The afterparty will contain amazing music, with an immersive, 360 surround sound system and artists such as Tripping Jaguar, ICPR presenters MK Ultra and Baham Collective, and many others yet to be announced. The maximum number of attendees is 500.
OPEN’s Executive Director, Joost Breeksema, joined David Drapkin on episode 340 of the podcast of Psychedelics Today – one of ICPR’s platinum partners. Joost and David discussed a wide variety of topics, from drug policies to ethics, the nature of reality and the latest details about ICPR.
Joost Breeksema is a psychiatry researcher as well as the executive director of OPEN since 2007. He’s a psychedelic enthusiast with a background in philosophy. He remarked on the importance of psychedelics in mental health treatments, which, as he describes “confront people with their own existence, with their place in the universe, with how they relate to themselves and to others.”
Joost believes in the importance of bringing together all the actors involved in order to be ready when these substances become legal, from researchers to health care insurance and policymakers.
As advances in psychedelic research keep on growing, Joost asks for caution. There needs to be a balance between hype and hope, he says. There is still a long road ahead in order to get a “safe and sustainable psychedelic treatment”, as he put it. Joost points out that luckily, the Netherlands is one of the leading countries in relation to drug policies. Its decriminalization model has been working for decades and there are lots of efforts being put into harm reduction approaches. Nevertheless, there are important changes that need to be made in order to help the improvement of psychedelic research.
Joost comes from a background in philosophy, and although he has spent recent years closer to research and therapy about psychedelics, the metaphysical angle on the psychedelic world still interests him mostly. The “I” in ICPR stands for ‘interdisciplinary’, so Joost was glad to shine a light on his fondness for Bernardo Kastrup – who is a computer scientist and philosopher who will be one of the keynote speakers at the upcoming conference.
Bernardo Kastrup is one of the main proponents of metaphysical idealism and has a PhD in philosophy and computer science. He has explained reality as “best imagined as mathematical equitations floating in empty space” in one of the interviews he has given.
Joost is looking forward to his talks and the questions Kastrup poses: “How can we understand consciousness? How can we use psychedelics as tools to study consciousness? Can this tell us anything about ontology, the nature of reality or the nature of knowledge? I think this is one of the speakers that I’m looking most forward to seeing”.
ICPR will be one of the places to discuss all these topics. This year’s conference will also have one extra day at the very beginning, September 21, dedicated to ethics and businesses. Professionals from different backgrounds will come together to share their different opinions. As more people find the psychedelic world appealing, David asked Joost about the importance of diversity and inclusion, sometimes easy to forget when money is involved.
After two years of the pandemic, and with the previous ICPR edition being online, Joost is thrilled for the upcoming conference and believes it is a great opportunity to learn, share and connect with different professionals and enthusiasts. He emphasized the different perspectives that will be covered, also outside of the medical world, like the arts, culture, and media and the separate workshops that are given around the conference.
27 March - Analytic Idealism & Live Q&A with Bernardo Kastrup