Can eating hallucinogenic magic mushrooms stop smoking addiction?
That’s what a new study from researchers at John Hopkins found. Their pilot study, the results of which were published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, noted a startling success rate of 80%. The researchers used psilocybin — that’s the psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms — to help the heavy smokers quit.
Before you run out and ask Alice for some fungi, there are some facts about the study that need to be kept in mind.
For four weeks, 15 smokers took standard cognitive behavior therapy – such as visualizing themselves without needing to smoke, keeping journals of their habits and moods, focusing on an intent to quit and so on. Each person had three psilocybin sessions of varying doses under therapist supervision, and were encouraged to focus on their anti-smoking intent before each session. Thirteen of the participants managed to quit and remain smoke free for six months, and that 80% success rate is considered incredibly successful. According to Time.com, “The most successful current treatment—the drug varenicline, which reduces nicotine cravings—only has a 35% success rate.”
The drug evidently helped the subjects to consider their smoking habit on a much deeper level, really helping them reflect on their future, and being able to make decisions based on their long-term view rather than immediate desire.
There’s been a recent increase in testing the effects of party drugs on more serious physical or psychological ailments. As Time noted:
In the past decade—after thirty years during which research into possible benefits of psychedelics was virtually forbidden—clinical studies of drugs, including psilocybin, Ketamine, MDMA and LSD, have accelerated.(Never mind the now widespread medical applications of marijuana.) Food and Drug Administration-approved pilot studies and trials have shown such oft-maligned drugs could be used safely under controlled conditions, delivering promising, even extraordinary results, and not just in the treatment of tobacco addiction, but also for disorders such as autism, anxiety, depression and opiate addiction.
The use of MDMA (better known as Ecstasy) to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has had an 80% success rate in early trials. With as many as half a million service men and women returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with debilitating, life-threatening PTSD, better treatments for the disorder are urgently needed. Yet legal prescription of psychedelic therapy is almost certainly more than a decade away.
(Didn’t get the above “Alice” reference? Check out the video below.)