While research has shown that people want to stop smoking experience significant improvement with psilocybin, this success does not change the fact that more studies need to be conducted.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins who conducted psychological behavioral therapy on chronic smokers have identified a small portion of people that were able to kick the habit with a regulated use of psilocybin after having struggled and failed to stop smoking before. Psilocybin is the main ingredient in a hallucinogenic such as magic mushrooms. According to Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D., an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 80 percent of smokers were able to abstain from the habit after a six-month period – which is a lot higher than the average situations for participants in these programs.
Johnson states that there is about a 35 percent success rate over a 6 month period for patients taking varenicline, one of the most popular, effective drug for quitting smoking. Another form of well-known treatment is nicotine therapies, also has only a 30 percent success rate.
Even with these studies showing great results with psilocybin, the Journal of Psychopharmacology, warns people that these findings do not necessarily encourage people to try to engage in psychedelic drugs on their own to stop smoking. Researchers strongly suggest the use of the drug in a controlled environment through a program providing therapy for this condition. According to Johnson, “When someone is trying to quit smoking, they do not have an easy organic reaction to psilocybin, like other medications such as nicotine.” He also goes on to say that, psilocybin should be given during therapy because it can take your mind to a place of serious inner contemplation about your life and what you can do to create change.
The participants were 10 men and 5 women who were all in good mental and physical health. The median age of the participants was 51. They each smoked about 19 cigarettes per day for 31 years. All of them had failed to stop smoking numerous times. 10 of the participants claimed to only have minimal use of hallucinogens, having last used around 27 years prior to the study. The other 5 had never used at all.
On the day that the participants wanted to stop smoking, the researchers gave them a psilocybin pill. The pills were administered two other times after that two weeks and eight weeks later at a higher dose. Each session lasted about 6 – 7 hours where they were watched closely to researchers in a homely environment. The participants usually had on earphones listening to music and wore eyeshades to make the experience far more relaxing.
Psilocybin was given to the participants through a thorough cognitive behavior therapy program for people wanting to quit smoking. This program involved weekly one-on-one counseling with work that included journaling in a diary to fully understand how and why these cravings happen. Funding has been available to these researchers for the study of the hallucinogenic effects of psychedelics for quite some time. These researchers state that psilocybin could be the solution to breaking the addictive habitual thoughts and behavior that result from smoking for so many years. Even after the drug is no longer active in the user’s system, the benefits remain.
The following study conducted by Johnson shows the percentage of success for people using psilocybin versus nicotine patches to quit smoking using a method to their study brain activity.