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Psychedelic psilocybin mushrooms, with therapy, can drastically cut down alcohol use

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulAug 26, 2022 | 14:06

Psychedelic psilocybin mushrooms, with therapy, can drastically cut down alcohol use

A new study conducted in the United States on the therapeutic effects of the psychedelic psilocybin mushrooms has shown remarkable results in the treatment of alcoholism and alcohol-related disorders. 

Following a long line of breakthroughs over the past few years, a study conducted by JAMA Psychiatry in the United States is the most recent of the lot to explore the mind-altering capabilities of psychedelics to treat a wide range of serious mental ailments, the likes of which include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and even existential dread for terminally ill patients. 

Psilocybin - the naturally occurring active ingredient found in ‘Magic Mushrooms’ : Getty Images

The results of the JAMA Psychiatry study found that merely two doses of psilocybin through magic mushrooms alongside a session of psychotherapy led to an 83% decline in alcohol consumption in heavy drinkers. 

By the end of the trial conducted over the span of eight months, nearly half the subjects gave up drinking entirely. And those who were administered a placebo saw a 51% decline in their alcohol intake. 

Psilocybin - the naturally occurring active ingredient found in ‘Magic Mushrooms’ - is one among the many psychedelic compounds that have observed a resurgence as of late for their untapped potential. Though still outlawed in most parts of the world, the increasing number of studies demonstrating its medicinal use have started paving the way for a promising future for the substance.

A mural of the late Maria Sabina, the "Mother of Psychedelics" and a ritual magic mushroom healer: Getty Images

However, this hasn’t been the first time psychedelics have been used in the process of breaking free from alcoholism. In fact, Bill Wilson, the founder of the famous American rehabilitation organisation Alcoholics Anonymous, was priorly a raging alcoholic until he was administered a single dose of LSD, another psychedelic compound, and remained sober ever since. 

Currently, studies conducted by over 111 active clinical trials across the United States have evidence to support the administration of psilocybin alleviates severe anxiety and depression in cancer patients. 

Psilocybin compounds distilled from magic mushrooms: Getty Images

The results these trials have observed over the years are the foundation of psychedelic therapy - a process that utilises the effects of psychedelics in altering one’s perception of self and providing a space to process trauma and angst completely. This is coupled with the presence of a controlled environment and a trained professional to guide you through the journey of healing.

Spanning the (unfortunately) limited research conducted, psychedelics were hailed for their capacity in dismantling patients' trauma at its roots and completely redefining their identities following years of ailments. Furthermore, psychedelics performed within the range of only a couple of meetings, in stark contrast to the weeks or months that antidepressants or other standard medications would take to treat mental ailments.

Author Michael Pollan is at the forefront of the growing movement in support of psychedelic therapy. His novel, How To Change Your Mind (now a Netflix docuseries) follows Pollan’s exploration of the history and culture surrounding psychedelics such as Psilocybin, LSD, MDMA and Mescaline. 

According to The New York Times, following the success of the JAMA Psychiatry trial, the Food and Drug Administration of the United States approved a consequent trial which aims to be the largest to study psilocybin-aided psychedelic therapy for the treatment of alcohol abuse disorders.

You can read more on psychedelics and psilocybin, from their history to effects on humans here: Netflix docuseries How To Change Your Mind will change your mind about psychedelics (well, it should)

Last updated: August 26, 2022 | 14:06
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