According to a new study, two doses of psilocybin, a substance present in hallucinogenic mushrooms, lower heavy drinking among heavy drinkers by an average of 83% when used in conjunction with psychotherapy. The investigation, which was led by experts from NYU Grossman School of Medicine, involved 93 alcoholic men and women. They were given a chance to take two doses of psilocybin or a placebo antihistamine. Both the researchers and the study subjects were unaware of the drug they were given. Those who received psilocybin reduced heavy drinking by 83% in comparison to their pre-study consumption within eight months of the commencement of their therapy. The amount of alcohol consumed by those who got an antihistamine decreased by 51%.
One of the study's other major conclusions was that, eight months after their initial dose, nearly half (48%) of individuals who received psilocybin stopped drinking entirely, compared to 24% of those who received a placebo. According to study senior author and psychiatrist Michael Bogenschutz, MD, director of the NYU Langone Center for Psychedelic Medicine, "our findings strongly suggest that psilocybin therapy is a promising means of treating alcohol use disorder, a complex disease that has proven notoriously difficult to manage."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol use claims the lives of about 95,000 Americans annually, frequently as a result of binge drinking or liver disease. According to Bogenschutz, who is also a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, it is also connected to significant financial losses and job injuries, as well as learning and memory impairment and poor mental and physical health. Psychological counseling, well monitored detoxification programs, and specific pharmacological regimens that reduce cravings are currently used to avoid excessive alcohol consumption and dependency.
The study's researchers claim that prior studies have shown that psilocybin therapy is an effective technique of reducing anxiety and depression in persons with the most severe kinds of cancer. Additionally, early studies by Bogenschutz and colleagues suggested that psilocybin might be used as a treatment for addictions to alcohol and other substances. The new study is the first placebo-controlled trial to look at psilocybin as a treatment for excessive alcohol intake, according to the study authors. It will be published on August 24 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
The research team chose men and women for the study who, according to accepted standards, had alcohol dependence and who, on days when they drank, had an average of seven drinks. The antihistamine placebo was administered to 45 patients, whereas 48 patients got at least one and perhaps three doses of psilocybin. Each person received up to 12 sessions of counseling. Both of these occurred prior to and following the medication treatments. The study's participants were then asked to estimate the proportion of heavy drinking days they had over weeks 5 to 36. To prove they hadn't been drinking, they also offered samples of their hair and fingernails. Then, psilocybin was administered to all subjects for a third time to provide those who had previously received a placebo an opportunity to receive the hallucinogenic medication.
"As research into psychedelic treatment grows, we find more possible applications for mental health conditions," says Bogenschutz. "Beyond alcohol use disorder, this approach may prove useful in treating other addictions such as cigarette smoking and abuse of cocaine and opioids." Bogenschutz warns that further study is necessary to verify psilocybin's effects and to define optimal dosing before the drug is prepared for general clinical usage. He says the research team then aims to perform a bigger, multicenter trial under an FDA IND sponsored by B.More Inc. He states that these experiments have already begun by researchers.
A naturally occurring substance formed from mushrooms called psilocybin has mind-altering properties comparable to those of LSD and mescaline. The majority of study participants go through substantial changes in perception, emotions, and sense of self, frequently with events that are perceived as having significant spiritual and personal meaning. Researchers warn that the medication should only be administered in carefully controlled conditions and in conjunction with psychiatric examination and preparation because it increases blood pressure and heart rate and can have incapacitating and occasionally overwhelming psychological effects.