Compound In Psychedelic Mushrooms Could Help Treat Alcoholism

By McCarton Ackerman 06/13/14

Numerous studies in recent years have shown psychedelics to be effective, even transformative.

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Using drugs to combat drug addiction might seem counterintuitive to some, but researchers in recent years have found that a particular psychedelic compound could help beat alcoholism.

Psilocybin, the psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms, has been found in several studies to have long-lasting medical and spiritual benefits. A controlled study out of Johns Hopkins University in 2011 found that low-level doses of the compound sparked psychological growth and greater understanding of life experiences in almost all of the volunteer participants. Many of the participants also reported drinking less afterwards.

They also looked back on their experience with psilocybin with positive feelings. Fourteen months after the study, 94% of participants referred to their psychedelic trip as one of the five most important moments of their life. Thirty-nine percent called it the single most important moment in their life. Family members, friends, and colleagues also noted that the participants were kinder and happier after their experience.

The changes in behavior and perception are also particularly noteworthy because the personalities of most adults tend to remain the same once they reach 25-30 years of age. "This is one of the first studies to show that you actually can change adult personality,” said Katherine MacLean, a postdoctoral researcher who contributed to the study. Many years later, people are saying it was one of the most profound experiences of their life. If you think about it in that context, it's not that surprising that it might be permanent."

MacLean and the other researchers advised against using psilocybin in an “unsupervised setting,” but the compound could also prove to have other medical benefits. A 2010 study found that psilocybin reduced death anxiety and depression among terminal cancer patients. Other studies in 2012 and 2013 have also concluded it could increase positive moods, remove cluster headaches, and enhance “autobiographical recollection.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.