Updated: Jan 9
Psychedelic researchers continue to uncover new spectrums of therapeutic benefits contributed to psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. Most recently, the results of a newly published randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study suggest that psilocybin-assisted therapy reduces heavy drinking in patients with alcohol use disorder, and nearly half of the patients stopped drinking altogether.
The study which was conducted by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine involved 93 men and women with alcohol dependence. The participants were offered 12 weeks of motivational enhancement therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy and were randomly administered either two doses of psilocybin (25-40mg) or an antihistamine placebo over 2 day-long medication sessions at weeks 4 and 8. Neither the participants. nor the researchers had knowledge of which medication they received. The researchers then assessed the participants for 32 weeks following the initial dose session.
Within the 8-month observation period, patients who were given psilocybin reduced heavy drinking by 83% vs 51% for the antihistamine control group. Furthermore, the results also demonstrated that in the 8 months following the initial dose, an impressive 48% of the participants who received psilocybin quit drinking altogether compared to 24% for the placebo group.
No serious adverse side effects were reported in the group that received psilocybin.
These findings offer an incredibly hopeful potential avenue for the treatment of alcohol use disorder which according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is responsible for 95,000 annual mortalities in the United States.
“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,” says study senior author and psychiatrist Michael P. Bogenschutz, MD, director of NYU Langone’s Center for Psychedelic Medicine.
These findings join the many other clinical studies that have in the past recorded the benefits of psilocybin in relation to substance use disorders like reducing cocaine use, reducing the risk of opioid addiction, and reducing alcohol use disorder relapses.
“As research into psychedelic treatment grows, we find more possible applications for mental health conditions,” says Dr. Bogenschutz. “Beyond alcohol use disorder, this approach may prove useful in treating other addictions such as cigarette smoking and abuse of cocaine and opioids.”