Alcohol is a psychoactive substance that is used in many cultures for different reasons. There are different diseases and economic and social consequences that result from the harmful use of alcohol. The harmful use can also cause harm to people around you, including friends, co-workers, strangers, and family members.
Studies also show that there are 200 health conditions, injuries, and diseases that result from alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing different health problems. This includes behavioral and mental disorders like alcohol disorder. Noncommunicable diseases also result from alcohol consumption, and examples include cardiovascular diseases, some cancers, and liver cirrhosis.
Most of the burden that results from alcohol consumption is due to intentional and unintentional injuries. This includes suicide, violence, and road traffic crashes.
New research evidence shows that psilocybin-assisted therapy can help reduce excessive drinking. In this article, I’ll take you through the details of this review and a few other pieces of information from WHO. Before we continue, here are some interesting facts.
- About 3 million death results from alcohol use every year, and this accounts for over 5.3% of deaths globally.
- Improper alcohol use is a cause of over 200 injuries and disease conditions.
- Improper use of alcohol also causes economic and social losses to society.
- Alcohol consumption causes disability and death early. Statistics show that it’s most common among people between 20 to 39 years.
- There’s a direct relationship between alcohol use and some behavioral and mental health disorders.
Factors Affecting Alcohol Consumption and Alcohol-Related Harm
There are many factors that influence the use of alcohol and the problems that result from its use. Here’s an overview of some of these factors:
The different societal factors include culture, availability of alcohol, economic development, social norms, and alcohol policies. In poorer societies, the general problem results in social harm and health impacts.
This includes gender, socio-economic status, family circumstances, and age. There is no dominant risk factor, and individual vulnerability is a major factor that contributes to alcohol-related problems. Another thing to note is that there are greater social and health harms with poorer individual experiences.
The total volume that an individual consumes is also a factor that influences acute and chronic health conditions. Drinking patterns generally vary with individuals, and heavy drinkers are generally at higher risk.
The last factor we’ll look at is the drinking context. This factor mostly influences alcohol intoxication. It’s worth noting that alcohol consumption impacts the incidence of injuries and other outcomes.
Findings from Study on Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy
Before we continue with the findings from the study, here are some interesting facts:
- There is a need for more effective drugs for alcohol dependence and alcohol use disorder. This is because currently available drugs are only modestly effective.
- A randomized clinical trial reveals that the psilocybin-psychotherapy combination is effective for alcohol use disorder.
- Psilocybin is a promising option for treating alcohol use disorder, and there’s a need for further research.
About the Study
You can find this study in JAMA Psychiatry, and it shows that psychotherapy and psilocybin therapy reduce heavy drinking. The type of therapy is also effective for alcohol use disorder, unlike other options like psychotherapy and antihistamine placebo.
The study is currently the first randomized clinical trial on psilocybin to establish its potential for treating alcohol use disorder. According to the author, Dr. Michael Bogenschutz, psilocybin is effective for treating alcohol use disorder.
There’s a serious need for more medications for alcohol use disorder, which justifies the study. Interestingly, psilocybin proves to be an effective option in the research. Another interesting thing is that the compound is also effective for treating other mental health conditions like depression.
Treating Substance Use Disorder
This is a condition that is linked to the constant use of a substance, such that it affects daily activities. Substance use disorder can cause serious health issues and affect the daily functioning of an individual. It’s a mental disorder, and in most cases, people find it hard to control the use of these substances.
There are different types of substance use disorders, and one of the most common is alcohol use disorder. This condition affects a lot of people in different parts of the world. In fact, some individuals suffer from this problem to the point that they struggle for their lives.
It’s worth noting that there are a few medications currently available on the market. However, there are reported relapse cases from individuals who use these treatment options. Also, these treatment options are only modestly effective, and some people don’t respond to them. That is why there’s an increase in the search for novel approaches for the effective treatment of alcohol use disorder.
Psychedelics Show Promise
Psychedelics are compounds that cause altered consciousness, including perception, thoughts, and mood. They are widely applied in treating mental disorders and substance use disorders. However, these compounds are classified as Schedule 1 drugs, which only limits research to explore their therapeutic use.
Within the past 20 years, there has been a global resurgence in the interest in fully understanding these substances. This is to ensure that we can fully explore them for treating substance use disorders and other mood disorders. While there are different psychedelics under study, one such that is rapidly gaining interest is psilocybin.
Psilocybin is the active compound in magic mushrooms, and it’s a psychedelic substance. This implies that it produces mind-altering and hallucination effects. The substances act on the serotonin 2A receptors within the brain.
A 2021 research reveals the potential for psilocybin to increase open-mindedness, willingness to change behaviors, and improve mood. The research also suggests that psilocybin can help people overcome certain behaviors associated with substance use disorders.
Another impressive finding is that psychedelic substances, in combination with psychotherapy, are also effective for treatment-resistant mental health conditions.
Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy
This type of therapy has proven to be effective in many ways, even though the exact mechanism isn’t fully known. There are research findings suggesting that psychedelic substances work on the brain’s plasticity. This includes increasing plasticity and flexibility. Psychotherapy helps in enhancing these psychedelic effects.
A key thing to note is that even though psilocybin triggers brain changes, it doesn’t mediate the direction of the changes. Therefore, the drug mostly helps in getting a person prepared for these changes. The therapy, on the other hand, allows them to embrace these changes, like cutting down or stopping alcohol consumption. This is the main reason why psilocybin and psychotherapy give interesting results in patients.
There is also previous research work that suggests the occurrence of serious adverse effects with psilocybin is low. Also, it’s generally advisable to use the substance in a controlled environment for effective management of the side effects.
Effects of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy
The recent study we are analyzing had 95 participants with alcohol use disorder. Here’s how they were able to show the effects of psilocybin-assisted therapy.
The participants were randomized such that some would receive the antihistamine diphenhydramine and others psilocybin. The study was for a period of 36 weeks, during which the participants were to take the substances at weeks 4 and 8.
In addition to the drug substances, the patients were also offered 12 weeks of cognitive behavioral and motivational therapy. This was at specific intervals, and it was mostly 4 weeks after the first dose and 2 weeks after the second.
In a bid to access the effectiveness of each therapy, the researchers had to examine the drinking behavior of each participant. The examination was 32 weeks for psilocybin participants and 4 weeks for diphenhydramine participants.
The percentage of heavy drinking days was lower (9.7%) in psilocybin participants. In the diphenhydramine group, the percentage was (23. 6%). Also, there were more participants without heavy drinking days in the psilocybin group than in the diphenhydramine group. This also applies to the average daily alcohol consumption, as it was lower in the psilocybin group.
However, one thing to note is that the research also reports nausea, anxiety, and headaches in the psilocybin group. There were no adverse effects in the psilocybin groups.
Limitations of the Study
Even though the research has really promising findings, it’s worth mentioning that there are a few shortcomings the authors identified. For example, the participants could tell whether they took a placebo or psilocybin.
Also, the study only had participants with moderate alcohol disorders. Therefore, the results may not completely apply to individuals with severe alcohol use disorders. Another thing to note is that the research was for only 32 weeks. Therefore, there’s a need for long-term studies to fully explore the potential of the substance.
Reducing the Burden from Alcohol Use
Socioeconomic, safety and health problems result from harmful alcohol use. This harmful use can be controlled with the aid of appropriate policies. Today, the government in different places are implementing policies, and examples include:
- Providing support for the policies
- Regulating the marketing of different alcoholic beverages, particularly to young people
- Pricing mechanisms and taxation
- Restricting and regulating the availability of alcohol
- Implementing intervention programs to educate people on the hazards of harmful alcohol drinking.
Further Findings on Psilocybin for Alcohol Addiction
Additional exploration of research evidence shows that two doses of the compound can help alcohol addiction. In a study from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, psilocybin was found to be effective for alcohol addiction. Again, this is in combination with psychotherapy, which reduced heavy drinking by 83%.
The research involved investigating 93 alcohol-dependent men and women. The participants were randomized with either two doses of psilocybin or an antihistamine placebo. These participants and the researchers had no idea of the medication participants received. The treatment was for eight months, and this was together with psychotherapy before taking results.
From the result, the level of alcohol consumption in heavy drinkers who received psilocybin was reduced by 83%. With the antihistamine placebo, the reduction was 51%.
In addition, the researchers highlight that eight months after the first dose, about 48% of the psilocybin group stopped drinking. This was only 24% in the placebo group.
Alcohol Use Disorder is Hard to Treat
From the above finding, it’s clear that psilocybin therapy is great for alcohol use disorder. It’s worth noting that alcohol use disorder is a complex condition that’s not easy to manage. Dr. Michael Bogenschutz, a psychiatrist, and director of NYU Langone Center for Psychedelic Medicine, also highlights this fact.
The research to fully explore psychedelic treatment continues to grow, and newer applications of the treatment option come out daily. Apart from alcohol use disorder, psilocybin-assisted therapy can be effective for other addiction problems and substance use disorders.
Alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder remain major sources of concern in the health sector. We have provided a detailed account of research findings and other key things to know about alcohol use disorder above. Psilocybin appears to be a promising treatment option for alcohol use disorder, as well as psilocybin-assisted therapy. Also, the study suggests that the substance helps to reduce excessive drinking.
The interest in psilocybin continues to grow because of its promising therapeutic benefits. On Microdose Bros, you’ll find some important research evidence to show the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin. In addition to learning more about these therapeutic benefits, you can also visit our store to buy magic truffles.
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