Psilocybin-occasioned mystical experiences in the treatment of tobacco addiction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Psilocybin-occasioned mystical experiences have been linked to persisting effects in healthy volunteers including positive changes in behavior, attitudes, and values, and increases in the personality domain of openness. In an open-label pilot-study of psilocybin-facilitated smoking addiction treatment, 15 smokers received 2 or 3 doses of psilocybin in the context of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for smoking cessation. Twelve of 15 participants (80%) demonstrated biologically verified smoking abstinence at 6-month follow-up. Participants who were abstinent at 6 months (n=12) were compared to participants still smoking at 6 months (n=3) on measures of subjective effects of psilocybin. Abstainers scored significantly higher on a measure of psilocybin-occasioned mystical experience. No significant differences in general intensity of drug effects were found between groups, suggesting that mystical-type subjective effects, rather than overall intensity of drug effects, were responsible for smoking cessation. Nine of 15 participants (60%) met criteria for “complete” mystical experience. Smoking cessation outcomes were significantly correlated with measures of mystical experience on session days, as well as retrospective ratings of personal meaning and spiritual significance of psilocybin sessions. These results suggest a mediating role of mystical experience in psychedelic-facilitated addiction treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-164
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Drug Abuse Reviews
Volume7
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2014

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Psilocybin
Tobacco
Smoking Cessation
Smoking
Therapeutics
Hallucinogens
Cognitive Therapy
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Personality
Healthy Volunteers

Keywords

  • Addiction
  • Hallucinogen
  • Mystical experience
  • Nicotine
  • Psilocybin
  • Psychedelic
  • Smoking cessation
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

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title = "Psilocybin-occasioned mystical experiences in the treatment of tobacco addiction",
abstract = "Psilocybin-occasioned mystical experiences have been linked to persisting effects in healthy volunteers including positive changes in behavior, attitudes, and values, and increases in the personality domain of openness. In an open-label pilot-study of psilocybin-facilitated smoking addiction treatment, 15 smokers received 2 or 3 doses of psilocybin in the context of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for smoking cessation. Twelve of 15 participants (80{\%}) demonstrated biologically verified smoking abstinence at 6-month follow-up. Participants who were abstinent at 6 months (n=12) were compared to participants still smoking at 6 months (n=3) on measures of subjective effects of psilocybin. Abstainers scored significantly higher on a measure of psilocybin-occasioned mystical experience. No significant differences in general intensity of drug effects were found between groups, suggesting that mystical-type subjective effects, rather than overall intensity of drug effects, were responsible for smoking cessation. Nine of 15 participants (60{\%}) met criteria for “complete” mystical experience. Smoking cessation outcomes were significantly correlated with measures of mystical experience on session days, as well as retrospective ratings of personal meaning and spiritual significance of psilocybin sessions. These results suggest a mediating role of mystical experience in psychedelic-facilitated addiction treatment.",
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