Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by excessive alcohol consumption and a loss of control over drinking. It can lead to a range of physical, psychological, and social problems, including liver damage, cognitive impairment, and relationship difficulties. AUD is a serious public health concern, affecting millions of people around the world.
The disorder can develop at any age and can impact individuals from all walks of life, regardless of gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Treatment for AUD typically involves a combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. However, not all treatments are equally effective for all individuals, and ongoing research is needed to improve outcomes for those struggling with AUD. One such therapy that has shown promising results in studies is psilocybin-assisted treatment.
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in certain species of mushrooms. It has been used for centuries in spiritual and therapeutic contexts and has been shown to have therapeutic potential in the treatment of a variety of mental health conditions. However, its effectiveness in the treatment of AUD has remained unknown until now.
A double-blind randomized clinical trial evaluated the efficacy of psilocybin in improving drinking outcomes in patients with AUD compared to outcomes observed with an active placebo medication. The study involved 93 participants who underwent 12 weeks of psychotherapy and were randomly assigned to receive either psilocybin or diphenhydramine (active placebo medication) during two medication sessions at weeks 4 and 8. The primary outcome measure was the percentage of heavy drinking days during the 32-week follow-up period.
The results of the study showed that the percentage of heavy drinking days was significantly lower in the psilocybin group compared to the diphenhydramine group. Specifically, the percentage of heavy drinking days during the 32-week double-blind period was 9.7% for the psilocybin group and 23.6% for the diphenhydramine group, a mean difference of 13.9%. In addition, mean daily alcohol consumption was also lower in the psilocybin group. Notably, there were no serious adverse events reported among participants who received psilocybin.
These findings suggest that psilocybin administered in combination with psychotherapy can produce robust decreases in the percentage of heavy drinking days in patients with AUD compared to active placebo medication and psychotherapy alone. This provides support for further study of psilocybin-assisted treatment for AUD.
Psilocybin-assisted treatment for AUD shows promise as a safe and effective therapy that can produce significant improvements in drinking outcomes. While further research is needed, this study provides a strong foundation for further investigation of psilocybin as a potential treatment option for individuals with AUD.