Psilocybin + Psychotherapy Cuts Heavy Drinking Days in Alcoholism

Percentage of heavy drinking days reduced with psilocybin combined with psychotherapy versus active placebo plus psychotherapy

THURSDAY, Aug. 25, 2022 (HealthDay News) — For adults with alcohol use disorder, psilocybin combined with psychotherapy yields a decrease in the percentage of heavy drinking days compared with active placebo and psychotherapy, according to a study published online Aug. 24 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Michael P. Bogenschutz, M.D., from the New York University Langone Center for Psychedelic Medicine in New York City, and colleagues examined whether two administrations of high-dose psilocybin versus active placebo medication improves the percentage of heavy drinking days in patients with alcohol use disorder undergoing psychotherapy. A total of 95 adults aged 25 to 65 years with a diagnosis of alcohol dependence and at least four heavy drinking days in the 30 days prior to screening were enrolled and offered 12 weeks of manualized psychotherapy and were then randomly assigned to receive psilocybin (49 patients) or diphenhydramine (46 patients) during two-day medication sessions at weeks 4 and 8. Ninety-three participants received at least one dose of study medication and were included in the analysis of the primary outcome.

The researchers found that during the 32-week double-blind period, the percentage of heavy drinking days was 9.7 and 23.6 percent for the psilocybin and diphenhydramine groups, respectively. Mean daily alcohol consumption was also lower in the psilocybin group. No serious adverse events were seen among those receiving psilocybin.

“These results provide support for further study of psilocybin-assisted treatment for adults with alcohol use disorder,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to biopharmaceutical and other industries.

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