(ORDO NEWS) — A new study by a group of American scientists shows the possibility of more successful treatment of alcohol dependence when standard methods of psychotherapy are combined with therapy with a natural psychedelic substance – psilocybin, obtained from hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Recently, more and more scientific clinical studies have shown the promise of using low doses of psychedelics for the treatment of various neuropsychiatric disorders associated with dysfunction of the nervous system.
And although the mechanisms of psychedelic treatment remain unclear, the action of these drugs appears to increase brain plasticity by influencing the structure of neurons and neural networks.
One such classic psychedelic is psilocybin, a natural narcotic compound found in dozens of mushroom species. The effects of this drug are highly variable and depend on the subjective experience of the patient/study participant and their environment, including concomitant psychotherapy.
Previously, psilocybin and the pharmacologically similar lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) were shown to be promising in the treatment of alcohol dependence.
A new double-blind randomized clinical trial (in which neither the participants nor the authors themselves initially know which of the patients received the drug and which received the placebo) made it possible for the first time to evaluate the effectiveness of psilocybin therapy in combination with standard methods of psychotherapy.
The course of treatment for each of the 93 participants consisted of 12 sessions of psychotherapy and two doses of the drug (psilocybin or placebo) after four and eight sessions.
At the same time, the sessions included not only standard motivation enhancement therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, but also training in the management and use of the psychoactive effects of the test substance.
As a result, after eight months of therapy and follow-up, the psilocybin-treated participants reduced their alcohol use by an average of 83% from their baseline level before the study.
At the same time, the placebo control group also reduced their alcohol consumption, but only by 51%. Nearly half (48%) of the psychedelic-treated participants were completely alcohol-free at the end of treatment (compared to 24% in the control group).
“Our results strongly suggest that psilocybin therapy is a promising treatment for alcohol dependence. As research into psychedelic treatment grows, we are finding more and more possible applications for the treatment of mental illness.
In addition to alcohol use disorder, this approach may be useful in the treatment of other addictions such as cigarette smoking and cocaine and opioid abuse,” said study lead author Michael Bogenschutz , psychiatrist , MD and director of the Center for Psychedelic Medicine. Langone Medicine at New York University.
Despite the high significance of these results, the authors caution that before the drug is ready for widespread clinical use, it is necessary to document all the effects of psilocybin in detail and clarify the appropriate dosage.
Therefore, going forward, the research team plans to conduct a larger study with a much larger number of participants.
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