Psilocybin and Substance Use Disorders
The Potential of Psilocybin for Treating Drug and Alcohol Problems
Dealing with drug and alcohol problems can be really tough, but there are different ways to help people who are struggling. Some folks talk to a therapist, while others go to support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Addiction Help, or Narcotics Anonymous. Some even take special medicines, but those don’t always work for everyone. Recently, scientists have been looking at something interesting to help – it’s called psilocybin, and it comes from certain mushrooms. Psilocybin might just be a new way to help people who have trouble with drugs and alcohol. Let’s explore what psilocybin is, how it works, and what scientists have found out so far.
What is Psilocybin?
So, psilocybin is a pretty big word, but it’s basically a special thing that comes from certain kinds of mushrooms. They have a cool nickname, and people call them “magic mushrooms.” It’s not because they’re actually magic, like making things disappear or turning people into rabbits, but because they contain something quite interesting.
When people eat or drink psilocybin, it does something really fascinating to their brains. You know, our brains are like supercomputers inside our heads, and they control everything we do and feel. They do this with the help of chemicals, sort of like ingredients that create different effects.
One of the most important chemicals in our brain is called serotonin. Think of serotonin as the “happy and calm” chemical. It’s like the little superhero inside your head that helps you feel good and relaxed. When you’re having fun with friends, eating your favorite ice cream, or cuddling with a pet, serotonin is often working its magic to make you feel happy and content.
But here’s the tricky part: sometimes, the serotonin system in our brains can get a little mixed up. It’s kind of like a superhero taking a break when they should be saving the day. When this happens, it can make people feel the opposite of happy and calm; they might feel sad, worried, or stressed out.
Now, here’s where psilocybin comes into the picture. It’s like a friendly helper that’s really good at mimicking, which means it can pretend to be, serotonin. Psilocybin can act a lot like serotonin in your brain, and that’s why scientists are so interested in it. They think it might help people who are struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.
Imagine it like this: If your serotonin superhero is taking a nap on the job and not helping you feel happy, psilocybin can jump in and start doing some of the work. It can make people feel better, happier, and more relaxed. So, when people are trying to stop using drugs or alcohol, psilocybin might be like a friendly cheerleader in their brains, giving them a little boost to make it easier to quit.
Early Research Brings Hope
In some early studies, people who needed help with alcohol or smoking problems got to try psilocybin. They didn’t just eat random mushrooms they found in the wild. That is not safe to do; there are a LOT of poisonous mushrooms out there. Instead, they got a carefully measured dose in a safe, medical setting.
One study was all about alcohol. It found that when people used psilocybin, they drank less often and didn’t have those heavy drinking sessions as much. This is a big deal because drinking less and not drinking heavily can help people get over their addiction. Not to mention that it makes their bodies healthier.
Another study focused on smoking. Incredibly, 80% of the people in this study quit smoking after just six months. That’s way better than many other methods. When the folks were asked why psilocybin helped them quit, they said it made them think about the future in a more positive way. Being more hopeful made quitting smoking easier. It also made quitting more important to them than continuing to smoke.
Is Psilocybin Safe?
When we’re looking for ways to help people with their problems, it’s super important that what we use is safe. Safety is a big deal, and that’s true for psilocybin too. Psilocybin is like a tool that can help, but it needs to be used the right way.
Now, let’s talk about some details. One important thing is that psilocybin is not super addictive. You know how some things, like video games or candies, can make you want more and more? Well, psilocybin is not like that. People don’t usually get hooked on it. They use it for a specific purpose, and it’s not something they need all the time.
If you’d like to get started with psilocybin, we are here to help! Please contact us here at Mind Mend.
When people use psilocybin, there can be some side effects. Side effects are like little reactions that our bodies have when we put something inside, like when you eat a spicy taco, and your mouth gets all hot. With psilocybin, the side effects are usually mild, which means they aren’t very strong or long-lasting. One of the most common side effects is a mild headache, which is like a little pain in your head. It’s kind of like when you don’t drink enough water on a hot day, and your head starts to hurt, but it’s not a big deal.
Another side effect is that sometimes, people’s blood pressure goes up a bit. Blood pressure is like the pushing force of your blood inside your body. Sometimes, when you’re excited or nervous, it can go up a little. Just like when you’re about to give a big presentation at school, your heart might beat a little faster. With psilocybin, the increase in blood pressure is not something to worry too much about, and it doesn’t last very long.
But here’s the important part: psilocybin should only be used when doctors and nurses who really know what they’re doing are around. They use it in a safe, medical setting, like a hospital or a clinic, where they can keep an eye on the person using it. They make sure the person is comfortable, safe, and not feeling scared. They also know how to help if anything unexpected happens.
So, in a nutshell, when we talk about using psilocybin, we’re talking about using it in a safe and careful way with the help of experts. They make sure the person is safe and that the side effects, like mild headaches or a little increase in blood pressure, are nothing to worry about. Safety is the top priority, and using psilocybin should always be done with the guidance of doctors and nurses who know how to use it safely for treating addictions.
The Research Looks Promising
While the early studies on psilocybin are exciting, we still need to learn more about how it works and who it can help. Not everyone might benefit from using psilocybin, and scientists want to figure out how to use it best. Researchers are curious about a few things:
- Does It Work for All Addictions?They want to see if psilocybin can help with different kinds of addictions, not just alcohol and smoking. They want to see if it can help with gambling and eating disorders, too. We provide a few links below if you’d like to read about them.
- What’s the Right Amount?Scientists are trying to figure out the perfect dose of psilocybin and how to use it safely.
- Does It Last?They wonder if the positive changes from using psilocybin stick around for a long time or if they go away.
- Can It Team Up with Other Treatments?They’re also checking if psilocybin combined with other treatments can work even better.
Use It Wisely
In conclusion, psilocybin is like a special helper that comes from certain mushrooms, and it’s showing promise in helping people who have a tough time with drugs and alcohol. It’s not a magical fix, but it’s like a new tool that scientists are using to help folks who need it. Psilocybin works a bit like a brain chemical called serotonin, which helps us feel happy and calm. When used safely and in a controlled setting, it can help people think positively about the future and make it easier for them to quit smoking or cut down on drinking.
The early research is giving us hope. In some studies, it helped people drink less and quit smoking, which is a big deal for their health. Psilocybin seems safe when used properly, with only mild side effects like temporary headaches and a little increase in blood pressure. But remember, it’s not something you should try on your own; it should only be used under the guidance of doctors and nurses who know how to use it safely for addiction treatment.
While the early studies are exciting, there’s still more to learn. Scientists want to know if psilocybin can help with other addictions, like gambling or eating disorders. They’re also trying to figure out the right amount to use and how long the positive effects last. Everyone’s different, so they’re researching why it works better for some people and not as well for others. And they’re even looking into whether it can work even better when combined with other treatments.
If you ever find yourself or someone you know struggling with drug or alcohol problems, it’s important to seek help from professionals. Psilocybin is a tool that can be helpful, but it should always be used wisely. The rules about psilocybin can vary depending on where you live. Remember, there are many ways to get help, like talking to a therapist, joining support groups, or trying other treatments, and it’s essential to find the one that works best for you.
Long-term follow-up of psilocybin-facilitated smoking cessation
Johnson, M. W., Garcia-Romeu, A., & Griffiths, R. R. (2017). Long-term follow-up of psilocybin-facilitated smoking cessation. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 43(1), 55-60.
Psilocybin-assisted treatment for alcohol dependence: a proof-of-concept study
Bogenschutz, M. P., Forcehimes, A. A., Pommy, J. A., Wilcox, C. E., Barbosa, P. C. R., & Strassman, R. J. (2015). Psilocybin-assisted treatment for alcohol dependence: a proof-of-concept study. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 29(3), 289-299.
Psychedelic Treatments for Substance Use Disorder and Substance Misuse: a Mixed Methods Systematic Review. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 55:5, pages 612-630.
Raman Sharma, Rachel Batchelor & Jacqueline Sin. (2023) Psychedelic Treatments for Substance Use Disorder and Substance Misuse: A Mixed Methods Systematic Review. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 55:5, pages 612-630.
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