Previous research has discovered that psilocybin can effectively treat substance-use disorders. Now, a new study has provided new insights into how psilocybin-assisted therapy works for individuals who are addicted to alcohol.
For their study, scientists at UC San Francisco, NYU and Fluence explored the therapeutic mechanisms that led to a considerable reduction in negative drinking behavior among 13 participants suffering from alcohol use disorders. Fluence is an education platform that specializes in the training and certification of psychedelic mental health therapists.
Before the trial, each participant reported on their relationship with alcohol. The majority of participants admitted to having used destructive coping mechanisms to manage uncomfortable situations throughout their childhoods and well into their adult lives. The researchers also observed that the participants experienced inner narratives including resentment toward those they were close to, guilt and excessive blame, which made them even more self-critical.
During the trial, each participant received a dose of psilocybin, which most said created emotions that had long been suppressed.
Months after the participants underwent psychedelic therapy, they were asked questions about their experiences after the trial. The participants revealed that psilocybin treatment assisted them in processing emotions linked to past painful events, in addition to promoting feelings of interconnectedness and states of self-awareness as well as self-compassion. In addition, the participants reported improvements in the quality of their relationships after the trial as well as new feelings of belonging.
In their report, the researchers noted that these findings supported the claims that psilocybin reduced self-critical and shame-based thought patterns and toned down alcohol cravings and affect regulation. The researchers added that their discovery also suggested that psychosocial therapies that integrated psychedelic treatment with training in self-compassion could help enhance the psychological outcomes of alcohol use disorder patients.
In their report, the authors highlighted common themes observed among the volunteers that could help inform future studies and therapeutic applications, especially now that more states are promoting regulated access to psychedelics and research into the substances.
For instance, Governor Jared Polis of Colorado signed a measure in May that would establish a regulatory framework for legal psychedelic substances. Additionally, regulators in Oregon recently approved a license for a psilocybin service center, the first of its kind in the country. This center will allow individuals to receive psychedelics in a facilitated and supervised environment.
The study’s findings were reported in the “Psychology of Addictive Behaviors” journal, by the American Psychological Association.
As more for-profit entities such as atai Life Sciences N.V. (NASDAQ: ATAI) publish studies demonstrating other therapeutic benefits of psychedelics, public interest in these substances is likely to grow. These therapies have potential to help millions of people who aren’t responding to existing treatments.
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