A recent study conducted by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine has found that the administration of two doses of psilocybin, a compound derived from psychedelic mushrooms, along with psychotherapy, can significantly reduce heavy drinking among individuals with alcohol dependence. The investigation involved 93 men and women diagnosed with alcohol dependence who were randomly assigned to receive either psilocybin or an antihistamine placebo. The study revealed that those who received psilocybin experienced an average reduction of 83% in heavy drinking over an eight-month period, while the placebo group showed a reduction of 51%. Furthermore, the study showed that nearly half of the participants who received psilocybin (48%) completely stopped drinking after eight months, compared to only 24% in the placebo group.
According to Dr. Michael Bogenschutz, the senior author of the study and director of the NYU Langone Center for Psychedelic Medicine, these findings suggest that psilocybin therapy holds promise as a potential treatment for alcohol use disorder, a challenging condition to manage effectively. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that excessive alcohol use is responsible for approximately 95,000 deaths in the United States each year, as well as significant economic and workplace losses and various health issues.
Previous research has already demonstrated the efficacy of psilocybin in reducing anxiety and depression in individuals with severe forms of cancer. In addition, earlier studies have indicated that psilocybin could be a potential therapy for alcohol use disorder and other addictions. However, this latest study is the first placebo-controlled trial to specifically investigate the use of psilocybin in treating excessive alcohol consumption.
The study involved participants who were diagnosed with alcohol dependence and consumed an average of seven drinks on drinking days. The individuals received up to three doses of psilocybin or the placebo, along with a total of 12 psychotherapy sessions. They were then asked to report the percentage of heavy drinking days they experienced during a 31-week period and provided samples to confirm abstinence from alcohol. Participants who initially received the placebo were later offered a third session of psilocybin to ensure they had the opportunity to receive the treatment.
Dr. Bogenschutz acknowledges the need for further research to establish the effects and appropriate dosing of psilocybin before it can be widely used in clinical settings. Nonetheless, he believes that as research into psychedelic treatment continues to expand, it may offer potential benefits for various mental health conditions, including addictions such as smoking, cocaine abuse, and opioid misuse.
The study was funded by the Heffter Research Institute and individual donations, and Dr. Bogenschutz has received research funds from and served as a consultant to various organizations involved in psychedelic studies. The researchers involved in the study plan to conduct a larger multicenter trial sponsored by B.More Inc., under the FDA IND. It is important to note that the use of psilocybin should be carefully controlled, with appropriate psychological evaluation and preparation, due to its physiological and psychological effects.
The findings of this study have been published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry and contribute to the growing body of evidence supporting the potential therapeutic applications of psychedelics in mental health treatment.