Coffee breaks, car rides, drinks with friends—all have become high-wires forcing participation in a game of mental acrobatics. I’m sitting at my desk chewing on the back of a plastic pen. My co-worker has a sickening smirk plastered across his heartless face as he dangles a cigarette in front of me like a carrot as he walks to the elevator. That bastard knows this is my third time trying to quit smoking. But according to a study by Johns Hopkins University, quitting smoking doesn’t have to be self-induced misery.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the road to quitting smoking might not be paved with nicotine patches, but rather lined with something a little more fun—magic mushrooms.
After being given incremental doses of psilocybin pellets, 80 per cent of study participants had not touched a cigarette in 6 months.
Fifteen people participated in the study—five women and ten men. On average, participants smoked 19 cigarettes a day for over three decades. Most participants had never used psychedelic substances before and those that had had at least 27 years between their last trip experience.
Compare this to Nicotine replacement therapy—like gum and the patch— which has an 8.2 per cent success rate according to The American Journal of Public Health.
Currently the most successful prescription alternative is varenicline, a drug that has side effects including headaches, stomach pain, irregular heartbeat, feelings of sadness or emptiness and in some cases, suicidal thoughts. Its success rate is also only 35 per cent.
While the staggering success rate has caused some huge excitement, the authors of the study were careful to note that in no way is this encouragement for smokers everywhere to find their nearest dreadlocked hippie drug dealer so they can go on a psychedelic nature walk to nicotine-sobriety. Rather, the psilocybin was administered in multiple sessions in a controlled clinical setting and complemented by cognitive behaviour therapy.
But nevertheless this could mean big things for the use of the legal status of psilocybin mushrooms. Currently magic mushrooms are classified as Schedule One according to the DEA, meaning the drug has “no potential medical benefits” and that production or possession is a Class 1 federal felony. With the new study by Johns Hopkins University on the benefits of psilocybin mushrooms at alleviating addiction, a petition for their reclassification might be in order.