Scientists helped smokers quit by giving them doses of a drug found in magic mushrooms

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University may have found alternative for people trying to quit smoking unsuccessfully.

Psilocybin, the active chemical in magic mushrooms, had double the success rate of other methods. 1950s/60s research involving psilocybin and LSD to treat addiction showed promise. Drugs were criminalized and research was halted. Recently, research has started to reopen with regards to hallucinogens. Notable success with smoking-cessation program.

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  • 15-week plan
  • 4 sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • 3 sessions of psilocybin doses

In CBT, psychologists ask smokers to reflect on their addiction, and create personal mantra why they want to quit. For drug dose: participants are taken to an incense-filled room and given psilocybin pill.

Once the pill is taken, researchers cover patients’ eyes and put on headphones. They are then asked to repeat their personal mantra. Aim to give the participants a spiritual experience in a strictly controlled setting.

Small study showed method to work in 2014. In a six-month follow-up after treatment, 12 out 15 participants had not smoked for at least a week. 2x as successful as other cessation therapies. Other therapies have success rate of less than 35%

Team believes effect is probably psychological, and smokers can quit because of this results. Drug may or may not affect nicotine receptors. Other uses of psilocybin which is used to treat anxiety in cancer patients.