Psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms is proving to be an effective treatment for nicotine addiction, according to a new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. The analysis of 15 participants finds that smokers are less likely to be enticed by the seduction of cigarettes after receiving a regimen of psychedelic medicine.
Researchers at John Hopkins University School of Medicine set out to explore the effects of psilocybin in an attempt to learn if the mind-bending hallucinogenic holds any weight in regards to helping longtime smokers kick the habit. A large majority — 80 percent — of the study group consisting of adults around the age of 50 who had been smoking an average of a pack a day for 30 years no longer wanted a cigarette after being treated with psilocybin for six months.
Although the study was small, researchers believe the results are an impressive affirmation that moderate and consistent doses of psilocybin could be the next big smoking cessation treatment. Other, more common remedies, like nicotine patches and prescription drugs, have only shown to net positive results in somewhere between 30-35 percent of smokers.
Lead study author Matthew W. Johnson, who is an associate professor of psychiatry at John Hopkins, recently told The Washington Post that while it remains a mystery as to how the psychological experience of taking psilocybin allowed smokers to put down the habit, most of them emerged from the study feeling as though their lives had been drastically changed.
“That kind of personality openness is consistent with addiction recovery,” said Johnson. “They have these ‘aha’ moments where they believe ‘wow, I can do this.’ ”
Researchers believe this hallucinogenic could be used to treat other addictions as well, yet they are not holding their breath for the time when psychedelic therapy goes mainstream – a concept that may never see the light of day. However, that is not stopping Johnson and his team of psilocybin scientists from conducting a series of clinical trials in an attempt to collect more evidence on this astounding phenomenon.
“This is really targeting, I believe, addiction,” said Johnson. “It’s exciting that this seems to be a novel model of effecting and understanding human behavioral change, beyond the particular behavior in question.”