Cigarette smokers around the world know just how difficult it is to quit. According to statistics from the CDC, over 480,000 people in the United States die each year from smoking cigarettes. With nearly half a million people who die each year, cigarette smoking is the ranked as the highest cause of death that can be prevented. Even with the high yearly death rate, smokers find it very difficult to give up their nicotine addiction. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have published a study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in which they determined a new method to help smokers quit. The new method is by using the hallucinogenic drug known as “magic mushrooms.”
Long time smokers were placed in a controlled setting and were given magic mushrooms three times over a two-month period. The dose of psilocybin, the hallucinogenic chemical found in magic mushrooms, was increased over the two-month period. Six months after the psilocybin treatments, 80 percent of study participants were smoke-free. The medication varenicline is widely considered to be the best pharmacological method for quitting smoking. Smokers who used varenicline showed a quitting success rate of 35 percent. The magic mushroom method, so far, is far more effective.
The participants in the magic mushroom study were an average age of 55-years-old. Participants also smoked an average of 19 cigarettes a day for three decades. All of the smokers who participated in the study stated that they had tried, and failed, at quitting many times over the course of their smoking lives. Some of the smokers related that they had tried using hallucinogenic drugs in the past to try and quit smoking, but never used magic mushrooms.
This is not the first time that psilocybin has been studied as a form of treatment. The use of hallucinogenics has been studied as ways to treat anxiety, depression, OCD, and other forms of mental illness. Doctor Robin Carhart-Harris, from Imperial College London, explains how the use of these type of drugs can help people suffering from mental illness.
— PsyPost.org (@PsyPost) December 12, 2015
“Only by losing the self, can you find the self. People try and run away from things and to forget, but with psychedelic drugs they’re forced to confront and really look at themselves.”
The publishers of the smoking study urge caution that smokers should not take it upon themselves to begin using magic mushrooms on their own in order to quit smoking. The study was published to show that in a controlled setting, magic mushroom therapy to change behavior is effective in helping smokers finally beat their addiction. The lead author of the study, Doctor Matthew Johnson explains how the treatment works.
“Quitting smoking isn’t a simple biological reaction to psilocybin, as with other medications that directly affect nicotine receptors.When administered after careful preparation and in a therapeutic context, psilocybin can lead to deep reflection about one’s life and spark motivation to change.”
We are only a couple weeks away from 2016. Smokers around the world will be asserting that they will finally quit their nicotine addiction as their New Year’s resolution. A vast majority of the people who make this claim will likely fail. Overcoming an addiction to nicotine is considered to be one of the hardest addictions to kick. With new quitting techniques and therapies being discovered each year, smokers looking to quit still have hope that a better method is right around the corner.
[Image via AP Photo/Peter Dejong]