New Study Suggests ‘Magic Mushroom’ Can Help People Quit Drinking

Researchers at NYU Langone Health believe psilocybin increases connections in the brain and helps heavy drinkers cut back or quit entirely.

In the most rigorous test of psilocybin for alcoholism, heavy drinkers cut back or quit entirely after taking the compound.

Psilocybin, found in several species of mushrooms, can cause vivid hallucinations. It’s illegal in the U.S., though Oregon decriminalized it and will allow its use next year.

In a study, 93 patients with alcohol use disorder who took a capsule containing psilocybin did better than those who took a dummy medicine. Almost half of them stopped drinking altogether.

Researchers believe psilocybin increases connections between parts of the brain and temporarily changes how the brain organizes itself. Combining psilocybin with talk therapy might help people break bad habits and adopt new attitudes.

Mary Beth Orr, 69, of Burien, Washington, said her psilocybin-induced hallucinations taught her she wasn’t alone. She stopped drinking entirely for two years and now has an occasional glass of wine.

Researchers used a generic antihistamine as a placebo, but most patients correctly guessed whether they got the psilocybin or the dummy pill.

Dr. Mark Willenbring said more research is needed before psilocybin can be considered an effective addition to talk therapy.

For more on this story, please consider these sources:

  1. Psilocybin Therapy Sharply Reduces Excessive Drinking, Small Study Shows – The New York Times
  2. Psychedelic Drug Therapy May Help Treat Alcohol Addiction – NYU Langone Health
  3. ‘Magic mushrooms’ may help alcoholics drink 83% less, research suggests – Market Watch
  4. Psychedelic Compound In Magic Mushrooms Shows New Promise – Wallstreet Journal