by Tod Perry
December 23, 2015
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Photo via (cc) Flickr user via Ivan Turkovski
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2012, 42.7 percent of smokers quit for at least one day in an attempt to stop altogether. Sadly, only about 6 percent of people are successful in their attempts to quit smoking. A recent study by Johns Hopkins University found an unusual way for people to kick the habit: the drug psilocybin. Before you go running to your local pharmacy to get some, know that it’s the active hallucinogenic agent in “magic mushrooms.”
For the study, smokers were given a dose of ’shrooms three times over a two-month period, with each dose progressively stronger. The results, published in the Journal of Pharmacology, found that six months after the study, 80 percent of the participants had remained smoke-free. Although the sample size was only one study, psilocybin’s success rate was much higher than the leading prescription anti-smoking drug, varenicline (Chantix), which has a 35 percent success rate.
Although the initial study did find psilocybin to be very effective, researchers don’t recommend that smokers run out to their nearest street pharmacist and start ’shrooming their way to a smoke-free life quite yet. “Quitting smoking isn’t a simple biological reaction to psilocybin, as with other medications that directly affect nicotine receptors,” Dr. Matthew Johnson, the study’s lead author, wrote. “When administered after careful preparation and in a therapeutic context, psilocybin can lead to deep reflection about one’s life and spark motivation to change.” Researchers plan to continue studying psilocybin’s effects on smoking cessation, comparing the results to the success rate associated with nicotine patches.