The Dish has long covered and investigated the medical and spiritual dimensions of psilocybin, the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms.” Its potency for mental health, depression, PTSD, and the trauma of end-of-life treatment of cancer. Read it all in one place here. But today, there’s news of new research that examines the use of the drug for people who have found it impossible to quit smoking. Surprise! Its impact is powerful:
The abstinence rate for study participants was 80 percent after six months, much higher than typical success rates in smoking cessation trials, says Matthew W. Johnson, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the corresponding author on the study.
Approximately 35 percent experience six-month success rates when taking varenicline, which is widely considered to be the most effective smoking cessation drug. Other treatments, including nicotine replacement and behavioral therapies, have success rates that are typically less than 30 percent, Johnson adds.
That’s not a slight improvement over current therapies; it’s a huge jump. And the gain in public health could be substantial.
But it’s important to note that
the hallucinogenic compound was administered as part of a comprehensive cognitive behavior therapy smoking cessation program that included weekly one-on-one counseling sessions and techniques such as keeping a diary before quitting in order to assess when and why cravings occur.
There are responsible and irresponsible ways to reap the benefits from substances too easily tarnished by culture war memories of the past. As with cannabis, psilocybin will make our future better.