Jul 20, 2019 | Updated: 08:54 AM EDT

Take A Trip to Quit—Psychedelic Mushrooms Help Lifetime Smokers Quit

Sep 17, 2014 01:15 AM EDT

Mushrooms with Psilocybin Active Ingredient
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons) Mushrooms with Psilocybin Active Ingredient

Those who have tried their hand at quitting an addiction as compulsory as tobacco can attest that cessation is rarely a manageable goal. You may try once, you may try twice, but ultimately it is tobacco that wins the war, as typically less than 35% of smokers or tobacco users manage to quit the addiction. But what if something, like the magic mushrooms in Alice in Wonderland, were able to make you suddenly kick the cravings? Well it turns out you're in for a psychedelic surprise.

The active ingredient in many psychotropic mushrooms, known as psilocybin, has proven an effect aid in anti-addiction programs over the years. However, as therapeutic use of hallucinogens is widely not documented, it wasn't until this week that researchers were able to say exactly how well the mushroom-derived drug works against tobacco addiction.

Publishing their results in the newest issue of the Journal of Psychopharmacology, a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine determined that the hallucinogens broke records against every other anti-addiction therapies on the market, and in conjunction with a rigorous cognitive behavioral therapy program, was able to boast a success rate of 80% in helping lifetime smokers quit cold turkey.

"Despite suggestive early findings on the therapeutic use of hallucinogens in the treatment of substance use disorders, rigorous follow-up had not been conducted" lead researcher Matthew W Johnson says. "The observed smoking cessation rate substantially exceeds rates commonly reported for other behavioral and/or pharmacological therapies (typically <35%)."

Over the course of the 15-week study, researchers found that the men being researched on averaged smoked 19 cigarettes a day for over 31 years, attempting to quit an average of six times before. But this time was different. By pairing the hallucinogenic mushroom-derived psilocybin and a cognitive therapy program together, the researchers were able to show that not only was the singular study a success, but it was also significantly more successful than traditional treatments of the past.

Though continued research must be investigated to further determine safe dosages and potentially adverse affects to the active ingredient, the research published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology point towards a viable solution to addictions on the horizon.

"The study illustrates a framework for future research on the efficacy and mechanisms of hallucinogen-facilitated treatment of addiction."

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