According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the total number of adults in the U.S. who suffer from alcohol use disorder (AUD) was 9 million men and 5.2 million women in 2019. The currently approved treatments for this condition include drugs such as Disulfiram, Naltrexone, and Acamprosate. However, recent studies on psychedelics demonstrated their potential effectiveness for alcohol addiction. So, how does psilocybin for alcohol detox work? Let’s find out in the article.
Psychedelic substances at the glance
Psychedelics appear as psychoactive substances that have the potential to promote changes in the user’s mood, world perception, and cognition processes. In addition, these drugs can also provoke visual or auditory hallucinations in people and alter their emotions, consciousness, and thinking. There are two main categories of psychedelics – classic and dissociative, which are made both synthetically and derived from plants or mushrooms.
The well-known hallucinogenic substances are psilocybin, LSD, peyote, etc. The most potent drug, LSD, was investigated for its psychedelic properties for decades. At the same time, psilocybin is also a point of interest for multiple scientists regarding alcohol abuse treatment.
The efficacy of psychedelics is scientifically confirmed. However, their exact effects on the human body are still misunderstood. A possible mechanism of hallucinogens` actions might be associated with their interactions with the chemical serotonin in our brain. The neurotransmitter serotonin is in charge of mood, memory, cognition, and other functionalities.
By affecting the brain function, psychedelics, such as psilocybin and LSD, tend to open the human’s mind to new opportunities allowing people with alcohol dependence to change their relationship with abused substances. Additionally, hallucinogenic substances can also promote mindfulness so an individual can gain some insights into their current state of mind resulting in better awareness of the harmful influence of alcohol.
Psilocybin detox and alcohol use disorder
Nowadays, research focuses on investigating the active compound in magic mushrooms—psilocybin as a potential cure for alcohol use disorder and alcohol detox. For example, one study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2015 involved 10 participants who suffered from alcohol dependence.
The research was concentrated on exploring the effects of psilocybin-assisted therapy, apart from motivational enhancement therapy and therapy for preparing for psilocybin ingestion. This study showed that participants` abstinence intensified greatly with the controlled psilocybin administration in one or two sessions. Such promising effects of psilocybin lasted 36 weeks with no side effects to the treatment.
Another pilot study on psilocybin and alcohol abuse was conducted in 2018 by Frontiers in Pharmacology. Patients with alcohol dependence attended psilocybin-assisted therapy and then reported a range of positive results. The psilocybin for alcohol detox symptoms included improved mood, inner unity, changes in alcohol attitudes, changes in time and reality perceptions, enhanced motivation, desire to change, and others. Thus, we can talk about the effectiveness of psychedelic substances in treating alcoholism, which was proved by multiple studies.