“Magic mushrooms” may help treat alcohol addiction, study finds

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In a study from NYU Grossman School of Medicine, scientists found two doses of psilocybin, a compound found in psychedelic mushrooms, reduce heavy drinking by 83% on average among heavy drinkers when combined with psychotherapy.

In the study, the team examined 93 men and women with alcohol dependence. They were assigned to receive either two doses of psilocybin or an antihistamine placebo.

Within an eight-month period from the start of their treatment, the team found those who were given psilocybin reduced heavy drinking by 83% relative to their drinking before the study began.

Meanwhile, those who had received antihistamine reduced their drinking by 51%.

The study showed that eight months after their first dose, almost half (48%) of those who received psilocybin stopped drinking altogether compared with 24% of the placebo group.

The findings strongly suggest that psilocybin therapy is a promising means of treating alcohol use disorder, a complex disease that has proven notoriously difficult to manage.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that excessive alcohol use kills roughly 95,000 Americans every year, often due to binge drinking or liver disease.

It is also linked to enormous economic and workplace losses, injury accidents, and impaired learning, memory, and mental health.

Current methods to prevent excessive alcohol use and dependency include psychological counseling, supervised detoxification programs, and certain drug regimens that dampen cravings.

According to the team, previous research had already identified psilocybin treatment as an effective means of alleviating anxiety and depression in people with the most severe forms of cancer.

And earlier research by the team and others suggested that psilocybin could serve as a potential therapy for alcohol use disorder and other addictions.

The new study is the first placebo-controlled trial to explore psilocybin as a treatment for excessive alcohol consumption.

If you care about alcohol, please read studies that people over 40 need to prevent dangerous alcohol/drug interactions, and how to prevent alcohol poisoning.

For more information about alcohol, please see recent studies about moderate alcohol drinking linked to high blood pressure, and results showing type 2 diabetes: Small reduction in alcohol, big reduction in heart disease risk.

The study was conducted by Michael Bogenschutz et al and published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

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