On the outset, it sounds a little counter-intuitive. Using drugs like psychedelics to ween people off of other substances? Well, per a new article from CBS News and 60 Minutes, that is indeed a practice that is undergoing research. And it appears as though drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms have found some success in this arena.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are in the midst of trials regarding this type of treatment. The idea is, a patient battling addiction or anxiety is given a large dose of psilocybin (which happens to the leading agent in magic mushrooms).
Not surprisingly, hallucinations play a big role in the process. The idea is that a “trip” induced by the substances can change a person’s outlook and ultimately encourage them to give up their destructive habits.
One participant who spoke to CBS, Jon Kostakopoulos, discussed how psilocybins were able to completely rid him of his alcoholism.
“I was drinking 20 cocktails a night and was slowly killing myself when he decided to enroll in the psilocybin trials,” he explained. “During my session, I was flooded with powerful feelings and images from his past. Stuff would come up that I haven’t thought of since they happened. I felt a lot of shame and embarrassment throughout one of the sessions about my drinking and how bad I felt for my parents to put up with all this. I haven’t had a drink since I took psilocybin in 2016.”
Despite the promising results, rigorous screenings are currently underway to ensure that program participants have positive reactions. “Bad trips” are very much a reality, the researchers told CBS. To help avoid negative side effects, patients are given weeks of intensive counseling before receiving any psilocybin. They also cannot have any history of schizophrenia or bipolar disorders.
The process works by having participants lie down on a couch blindfolded. From there, headphones are given; playing a soothing soundtrack. Only then are they given the psychedelic; all under the watchful eyes of trained professionals.
So far, the greatest success has been with patients suffering from depression. More that two thirds of the participants struggling with mental health issues experienced “significant decreases in depressed moods and anxiety” after sampling the psychedelics.
Those dealing with addiction certainly show promise too, though no definitive conclusions have been drawn just yet. You can see more from 60 Minutes fascinating report on the topic below…