Alcohol addiction can be one of the most debilitating conditions anyone can have. The effects of alcoholism can not only leave people with severe health problems, but also cause disruption to family life, breakdown in relationships and crippling financial issues. Of course, it’s the health of the person concerned that is the main problem, and getting someone’s life back on track and in recovery is a must. For most, that pathway is through alcohol rehab, checking into a therapy centre and undergoing the rehab process. It’s proven to be a hugely successful way and there are millions of alcoholics who are in the recovery process thanks to them. However, research is always looking to drive treatments forward and a new study has found that a psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms, alongside talk therapy could be a new, and successful, way to treat people with alcohol addiction. The study, which was covered on the Jama Network, found that patients who had taken the drug, which is named psilocybin, saw an 83% decline in heavy drinking, compared to just 50% who took the placebo.
It could be a huge step forward alongside taking the more traditional talk therapy, particularly with alcoholism having been a worldwide pandemic for generations. Dr Michael Bogenschutz, who was the study’s lead investigator said of the trial, ““Alcohol use disorder is a serious public health problem, and the effects of currently available treatments and medications tend to be small.”The study went on to find that around half of those who were treated with psilocybin, stopped drinking altogether, compared to just a quarter of those who had taken the placebo.
At present, scientists aren’t yet sure how psilocybin does affect the brain, so further research is needed to be gathered before this becomes a way to treat alcoholism. It’s believed that it helps increase connections in the brain and allow people to find new ways to address an illness, with one participant in the study saying it made “alcohol irrelevant and uninteresting to me”.
Of course, there are significant side effects with this drug. After all, it’s a psychedelic so there this patient in particular noted that they saw their late father while as well as a number of historical figures. While it’s unlikely this method would ever be a sole way to treat alcohol addiction, with it more likely to work alongside rehab and therapy, it’s another huge breakthrough for those suffering with alcohol addiction, and many will be keen to try it. It will have to be taken in controlled environments and further testing is still required, with researchers starting a multisite trial across the USA next year.