Can Psilocybin Help Smokers Quit?

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, psilocybin is a hallucinogenic chemical that comes from certain types of mushrooms. You may be familiar with one of the street names it goes by, like magic mushrooms. WebMD also notes that psilocybin can be made in a lab. The National Drug Intelligence Center currently lists psilocybin as a Schedule I drug, like LSD and heroin, which means that it is illegal, has a high potential for abuse, and does not have a medical purpose in the United States. However, in recent years psilocybin has been extensively explored by researchers as a treatment for a number of health issues, like treating depression. But there may be other medical uses for psilocybin — like helping people with addiction to substances.

A 2022 double-blind randomized clinical trial published in the JAMA Psychiatry found that two sessions of high-dose psilocybin — when administered along with psychotherapy — helped reduce the number of heavy drinking days in adults with alcohol use disorder when compared to the placebo group. Now, researchers plan to explore whether or not psilocybin can help smokers quit smoking. Here's everything you need to know about psilocybin and its potential effects on smoking cessation.

Johns Hopkins to study psilocybin for smoking cessation

Johns Hopkins University reportedly received the first federal grant in 50 years to explore a psychedelic drug as a potential therapeutic treatment (via Rolling Stone). The $4 million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will enable researchers at John Hopkins University to explore if psilocybin can assist in the cessation of smoking, or quitting.

The esteemed university will also collaborate with the University of Alabama at Birmingham and New York University to conduct the multi-site double-blind, randomized clinical trial that's estimated to begin in December 2022. The trial will feature 66 participants that will either be assigned to a group that receives two administrations of psilocybin one week apart or a group that receives two administrations of niacin — the United States Federal Drug Administration's (FDA) choice of active placebo for psilocybin — one week apart. NBC News reports that both groups will receive talk therapy in conjunction with either drug. This study hopes to tackle a troubling health issue in smoking, as fewer than 1 in 10 adult smokers successfully quit smoking each year (per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).