Many studies indicate that traditional hallucinogens that activate 5HT2A receptors may be helpful in treating alcohol and drug addiction. Although psilocybin’s impacts on diverse groups have been studied recently, there hasn’t been any research on how well it works to treat alcoholism.
The findings of this inquiry, however, highlight the necessity of carrying out controlled trials with bigger sample sizes to investigate the origins and effectiveness of psilocybin therapy for alcoholism. With that said, let’s explore the most recent studies in this field to date.
A Brief Overview on Psychedelics and Psychiatric Treatment
Research conducted during the 1950s to the early 1970s explored the potential of LSD and other traditional hallucinogens (5HT2A agonist or partial agonist) to treat addiction, terminal patients’ existential distress, pain, and other conditions. However, in the past decade, there has been a growing interest in studying the clinical uses of psilocybin, a well-known psychedelic.
Clinical testing has demonstrated the relative safety of LSD, psilocybin, DMT, and mescaline when used in research settings with carefully selected, monitored, and followed-up participants. A recent meta-analysis of six randomized trials of LSD treatment for alcoholism showed that 325 patients receiving LSD therapy experienced a significantly greater improvement than 211 patients in the control group at the initial post-treatment follow-up (ranging from 1 to 12 months). The odds ratio for improvement was 1.96, favoring LSD (95% confidence interval 1.36-2.84, Z= 3.59, p = 0.0003).
In a recent pilot trial, psilocybin was used as a supplement to nicotine replacement therapy, resulting in an incredibly high rate of abstinence (80% at the 6-month follow-up).
Psychological Models of Psychedelic Treatment
The altered state of consciousness experienced during the acute effects of the drug is considered crucial in clinical treatment with classic hallucinogens. There are currently two “psychedelic treatment” paradigms being used.
The first is the “psycholytic” treatment model, which emphasizes the use of traditional hallucinogens to accelerate the course of psychodynamic psychotherapy by facilitating access to unconscious material.
The second paradigm, known as the “psychedelic” therapy approach, is centred on inducing a “peak-psychedelic” or mystical experience of ego loss using relatively high dosages of conventional hallucinogens, such as LSD. It’s common to relate this experience to a psychological death and rebirth. This methodology was used in the majority of clinical studies using LSD to treat addiction or existential dread in the terminally ill in North America. The idea that a single transformational experience might cause long-lasting behaviour change is consistent with conventional accounts of religious conversion and unplanned experiences of Quantum Change.
Recent studies have shown that the self-reported “mystical” aspect of the experience, which includes sensations of unity, sacredness, ultimate reality, transcendence of time and space, intensely felt positivity, and ineffability, significantly predicts the experience’s lasting personal significance and personality change in normal volunteers who have taken psilocybin.
The case for investigating whether conventional hallucinogens can improve treatment response in alcoholics is made strongly by the results presented here. Psilocybin hasn’t historically been investigated for use in treating alcoholism, despite accumulating evidence that it has clinically significant effects and is safe when administered under medical supervision.
The local community was tapped for participants by using flyers and advertisements in the local media. They were males and females between the ages of 25 and 65 who had been identified as having active alcohol dependence using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID), who had engaged in at least two binge drinking occasions within the previous 30 days, who had expressed concern regarding their drinking, and who were not undergoing treatment at the time.
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