Scientists discovered a compound that could stop alcoholism, according to the findings of a recent study. In the most thorough test of psilocybin for alcoholism, the ingredient found in hallucinogenic mushrooms helped heavy drinkers cut back on their drinking or quit altogether.
Additional research is required to determine whether or not the impact is long-lasting. Also, whether or not it is successful in larger studies. It seems probable that all of the people who participated in the research were highly driven. They also underwent talk therapy. Many of the people who took dummy medications instead of psilocybin were likewise successful in drinking less.
Psilocybin, which may be found in a number of different types of mushrooms, is capable of causing hallucinations. These hallucinations can last for many hours. It has been utilized by indigenous people in healing rituals. So, scientists are currently investigating whether or not it might alleviate sadness or assist long-time smokers in quitting.
It is illegal in the United States. This is despite the fact that the state of Oregon and a number of communities have decriminalized it. Beginning in 2019, the state of Oregon will allow for its use under supervision by qualified facilitators.
According to Fred Barrett, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University who was not involved in the study but commented on the new research that was published in JAMA Psychiatry on Wednesday, it is “the first modern, rigorous, controlled trial” of whether or not it can also help people who are struggling with alcohol.
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Scientists discovered a compound that could stop alcoholism, study shows
During the course of the research, 93 patients were given either a capsule containing psilocybin or a placebo. This is followed by being instructed to lie down on a couch with their eyes covered. However, in the process, listening to recorded music through headphones. They had two of these sessions separated by one month. Also, a total of 12 sessions of talk therapy.
Patients who took psilocybin fared significantly better than those in the other groups. This is during the eight months that followed their initial dosing session. On average, patients in the psilocybin group engaged in heavy drinking once every ten days. These, compared to patients in the placebo group, did so once every four days. In comparison, just 24% of those who were given a placebo were able to completely abstain from drinking. This is after taking psilocybin.
Disulfiram, naltrexone, and acamprosate are the only three traditional medications that are authorized for use. That is, in the treatment of alcohol consumption disorders, there has been no new medication authorized for usage in almost 20 years. Researchers think that psilocybin enhances connections and, at the very least momentarily, affects the way the brain organizes itself. But no one knows exactly how psilocybin works in the brain.
According to Dr. Michael Bogenschutz, who is the head of the NYU Langone Center for Psychedelic Medicine and who was in charge of leading the study team, “more areas of the brain are communicating with more sections of the brain.”
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Effect of Psilocybin
There is a lack of consensus on the potential longevity of those newly formed ties. When combined with talk therapy, people might find it easier to break out of bad habits and see things in a new way. Bogenschutz stated that “there is a potential for genuinely modifying in a reasonably permanent fashion the functional structure of the brain.”
Bogenschutz says that patients told him about deep realizations that changed their lives and gave them long-lasting motivation.
Mary Beth Orr, who is 69 years old and lives in Burien, Washington, claims that the psilocybin that she took caused her to have hallucinations. This made her fly over breathtaking landscapes and merge telepathically with creative people from throughout history. These experiences led her to realize that she was not alone.
Before signing up for the research in 2018, Orr had anywhere from five to six drinks on a nightly basis and even more on the weekends. She remarked that despite the fact that the quantity was inappropriate, she was unable to stop. “There was no off switch in any of the available locations.”
She experienced a vision of her late father while she was under the influence of psilocybin for the first time. He told her to “Go” and handed her a pair of eagle eyes. She shared her thoughts with the therapists who were keeping a watch on her. “These eagle eyes can’t see the face of God, but they know where it is.”
She abstained completely from alcohol for a period of two years, although she will now partake in the occasional glass of wine. Also, she attributes her recovery to psilocybin more than the conversation therapy she underwent.
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Generic antihistamine with psychedelic effects
Orr stated, “It rendered drinking completely unimportant and boring to me.” Now, “I am tied to my children and my loved ones in a way that just excludes the desire to be alone with booze.” Those are his exact words.
Patients who were given psilocybin experienced more severe cases of headaches, nausea, and anxiety than those who were given a placebo. During their experience with psilocybin, one participant reported having suicidal thoughts.
In a study such as this one, it is essential that the participants are unable to determine for themselves whether they were given psilocybin or a sham medication. As a placebo, the researchers decided to use a generic antihistamine that also had some psychedelic effects. This was done in an effort to achieve their goal.
Even so, most of the people who took part in the trial were able to correctly guess whether they had been given psilocybin or a fake pill.
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Testimony on cutting back on heavy drinking
Paul Mavis couldn’t guess. Even though he was given a placebo, the 61-year-old man from Wilton, Connecticut, was able to give up drinking. One of the things that was helpful was the talk therapy, which suggested to him that his emotional life hit a plateau when he was 15 years old and started drinking to feel numb.
And he detailed a defining point in his life that occurred during a session in which he was administered the fake drug: he imagined the passing of a close family member or friend. Suddenly, he was overcome with a profound sadness that rendered him helpless.
“I was weeping, which isn’t something that happens to me very often. I was working up a sweat. Also, I was utterly devastated,” he admitted. “As I am attempting to come to terms with this loss, such as, why am I experiencing this?” Instantaneously, the concept that “drinking means death” sprang into my head. He said that he hadn’t had a drink in the intervening time.
Dr. Mark Willenbring, who formerly served as the head of treatment research at the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, has stated that further study must be conducted before psilocybin can be regarded as a successful adjunct to talk therapy.
He noticed that talking to a therapist was helpful for both groups—those who got psilocybin and those who didn’t. Also, that the extra benefit of psilocybin seemed to go away over time. Willenbring declared that the situation was “extremely enticing.”
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