Kick The Cigarette With Magic Mushrooms?
Researchers at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore (US) recently undertook a pilot study which sought to utilize psilocybin (the psychedelic compound in mushrooms) to help heavy smokers quit. Publishing their findings in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, the researchers outlined the details of their research and its unbelievably high success rate: Out of the 15 volunteers who partook in the psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, a staggering 12 were able to remain smoke-free after a six-month follow up.
Each of the participants were known to smoke around a pack a day and had been smoking for an average of over 30 years. Just three of these 'psychedelic session' were all it took to bring about these smoking revelations (so to speak) - representing an 80% success rate. Achieving such a high percentage in relation to a tobacco addiction is simply unheard; coupled with the fact it was obtained through the use of psychedelic means. According to time.com, "The most successful current treatment—the drug varenicline, which reduces nicotine cravings—only has a 35% success rate."
For several decades clinicians and researchers have worked tirelessly to uncover and showcase the medicinal benefits of psychedelics. Pioneers of the 1950's Humphry Osmond and Abram Hoffer were amongst the first to use classic psychedelics, including likes of LSD and mescaline in the treatment of alcohol addiction. Their high reported rates of alcoholism recovery paved the way for other institutes to follow suit - encouraging investigative research into the treatment of other addictions. However, just when psychedelic exploration was starting to find its stride in the 70's, funding for these clinically promising chemicals became highly restricted. Federal sources who once supported, quickly withdrew research funding and as a result professional research on them became strongly marginalized. This adverse reaction (so to speak), didn't arise because of the medical trials themselves but rather as a response to the recreational use of these drugs and associated social movements.
In recent years we have seen the re-acceleration of psychedelic research and this study (you could say) is a testament to this newly invigorated endeavor. It is also sheds a more positive light upon psychedelics as a whole.
The new John Hopkins smoking study prepped its 15 participants on a number of fronts, prior to taking the psilocybin. Initially, they were given four weeks of standardized cognitive behavioral therapy (or CBT) - focusing on visualization, keeping journals and fortifying their intent and reasons for quitting. Once that portion of the study had ended the psilocybin part could then begin. Each volunteer had three psilocybin sessions, the first of which began with a moderate dose while the final two were of a higher dosage. The subjects were encouraged to strengthen their resolve before each session, focusing on their anti-smoking intent - otherwise simply encouraged to wear eye shades and earphones and "go inside."
The 13 participants that managed to quit and remain smoke free for six months were asked to identify the reasons for their success. The most frequently chosen answer was, “by changing the way you orient yourself toward the future, such that you now act in your long-term holistic benefit, rather than acting in response to immediate desire.”
The answer chosen as the most important was, “by changing the way you prioritize values in life, so that reasons to smoke no longer outweighed reasons to quit.”
Those questions along with a handful of others were devised to identify whether the participants attitudes and outlooks had changed as a result of the psilocybin study. What was most significant was the shared spiritual resonances among the group. When asked, astonishingly all but two participants rated at least one psilocybin session among the ten most meaningful experiences of their lives.