In light of the latest news regarding the DEA’s telehealth regulations and the closing of two renowned ketamine clinics with facilities in the U.S., Benzinga had the opportunity to interview Jay Godfrey, co-founder of the NYC-based ketamine-assisted therapy center Nushama.
This is the second article of a three-part series, you can find the first story of the series here.
When Benzinga asked whether Nushama is considering entering the telehealth space, Godfrey says the short answer is no.
“The intermediate answer is: Research thus far has shown that the greatest efficacy and safety is achieved under medical supervision in-clinic. End of story,” he said.
Nushama’s protocol works for in-clinic ketamine therapy. Offered for people with a variety of mood disorders, the most common causes that take people to the center are depression and anxiety.
Further, the recent partnership with major psychedelics company Awakn Life Sciences AWKNF gives Nushama an NYC-exclusive license to the very successful KARE protocol designed for the treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) with which it has begun dosing the first patient last week.
Nushama’s viewpoint is that all of these indications are sourced from unresolved trauma, acting as symptoms of the condition. “Ultimately, what is different about this particular type of treatment and work, is that we are addressing the underlying issue and the underlying trauma,” Godfrey told Benzinga.
With 70% to 80% of patients showing significant improvement, what separates Nushama from many other clinics, says Godfrey, is that they offer integration. He added that the therapy component is a necessity. “Ten percent of it is related to the actual molecule, and 10% of it is the diagnosis. But the vast majority of what we do, that 80%, surrounds the preparation and integration,” Gofrey explained.
While at the moment Nushama does not get involved with people doing ketamine therapy either on their own recreationally or at home, Godfrey says that most people who go into the clinic have tried everything.
“Not necessarily psychedelics, but have tried antidepressants or SSRIs, or anti-anxiety medications or benzodiazepines, they have tried therapy, and they are effectively treatment-resistant.”
A small subset of patients has gone to Costa Rica or Peru or Colombia and done ayahuasca, or to Jamaica and done psilocybin, yet they ultimately go to Nushama “because there is something unresolved.”
This, for Godfrey, “underscores the absolute necessity and importance of proper preparation and integration, which they did not have when they went to these other places.”
All patients at Nushama have a diagnosis. Some are diagnosed with depression and are not treatment-resistant, yet many of them are effectively treatment resistant – meaning they have attempted two separate interventions with existing medications with no success.
“So the bar is pretty low for what is treatment-resistant,” Godfrey says, adding that the clinic founders share the belief that there needn’t be a wait until people are treatment-resistant.
“That is a very sad commentary about our society if we have to wait for people to look into these treatments as a last resort. We don’t want them to get to the point where it is life or death before they come to see us. Maybe one day this will change and become preventive medicine, but for the time being everybody has a diagnosis.”
After Treatment, Continuing Care
Additionally, Godfrey says, they don’t want people to rely on ketamine (now), or on MDMA or psilocybin (whenever they come). “We want them to rely on themselves and take responsibility.”
That is why, after the 3-6 week ketamine treatment protocol is over, Nushama offers its members free community activities such as weekly integration circles or events involving holotropic breath, sound meditations or sound baths or ceremonies -“a lovely way for people to understand that they can get into their journeys, in that consciousness, without the meds,“– and for those in need, talk therapy.
There are some people that do go back for one, or in some cases two or three boosters or refresher sessions. That usually takes place one to three months after the main treatment.
“But ultimately the idea is to take people and change the relationship to the underlying trauma,” Godfrey said. “So many people, whether it is after the sixth and they are done, or whether they need a couple more, our hope and the objective here is to shift them from a consciousness of blame – because something has happened to all of us – into a space of responsibility.”
Interestingly, Godfrey says that Nushama might recommend a patient not to continue with the treatment if it is somewhat made clear that those people are not working towards integrating the insights from their psychedelic journeys.
“We have a lot of demand, and so if somebody does not want to do the work, there is somebody waiting to take that spot. And psychedelics, including ketamine, are not a panacea. For those who come in with the expectations of a panacea or that they are going to go from treatment-resistant to Mahatma Gandhi, part of the preparatory process is really helping to manage those expectations,” Godfrey told Benzinga.
Now Read: Major Ketamine Clinics Chain Decides Not To Pursue Acquisition Deal
Photo: Benzinga edit with photo by Sonis Photography and Hananeko_Studio on Shutterstock and Nushama
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