by Paul Fassa
Health Impact News

A group of researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) are enrolling volunteers for a clinical trial that could set precedence for using psilocybin, a psychedelic compound extracted from “magic mushrooms,” to pry the obsessive desire for cocaine away from addicts. 

Unlike pharmaceutical industry drugs that turn out to be trading one potentially dangerous drug for another, psilocybin is not a replacement drug at all. It’s not something taken daily nor should it be abused recreationally. 

Often, a serious spiritual event or profound life-changing insight from the addict, not from firm external pressures or forced abstinence, is what it takes for a cocaine addict to effectively break the bondage to that addiction. 

In this century, psychologists, MD psychiatrists, and others have observed psilocybin’s ability to induce those events without extended counseling, shown in clinical studies by Johns Hopkins, Imperial College London, New York University, University of California-San Francisco, Yale, and now UAB. 

A Psychedelic Method Without Madness 

With most subjects in those previous studies, a profound spiritual experience or sustainable life-changing insight had occurred for most by taking psilocybin in pleasant, safe environments, more like visiting a good friend’s home, and monitored by medical staff a very few times, maybe even only once.

Now UAB is conducting the first study to determine psilocybin’s influence on cocaine addiction. The UAB School of Public Health have 20 volunteer subjects who have passed through the researchers’ standard of currently addicted to cocaine and sincerely desiring to quit, but they are seeking more volunteers. 

Subjects will take the psilocybin under supervision in a comfortable, relaxed environment. Blindfolds are usually provided to avoid external distractions and go into one’s own psyche or conscious.  After each session, subjects will be followed up on to determine their ability to avoid cocaine use without stress.

Unlike an experimental or recreational approach with using psilocybin, therapeutic approaches have a specific intention for directing one’s expanded consciousness from this psychedelic. 

Based on prior psilocybin studies, UAB psilocybin study lead author, Professor Peter Hendricks, intends to eventually place psilocybin out of the DEA’s Controlled Substance Schedule 1 and into Schedule 3 or 4 that allow medical or therapeutic use by licensed doctors and trained therapists. 

Hendricks made these statements to a Birmingham, Alabama publication:

“Recreational use is completely different from very carefully controlled use in a therapeutic setting,” Hendricks said.

“We know that there are individuals who use [psilocybin] recreationally, and the effects in these contexts are completely different than what you might expect with a very specific intention and the assistance of a therapist. In the appropriate setting and with the appropriate mindset and preparation, [psilocybin] can occasion a mystical-type experience sometimes called a ‘peak experience’.” (Source)

It’s the peak experience that offers rapid transformation with sufficient life-changing insight when guided by the proper counseling, which normally would take years with a client’s self-effort to maintain cocaine abstinence or attendance to 12-step programs, where you state your name and assert you’re an addict. 

The recidivism of going back to cocaine or heroin after traditional abstinence interventions for addiction is quite high. Ironically, they all refuse to allow individuals in their programs to use psychedelics or cannabis, despite the evidence that both work well, and both are not addictive or dangerous for weaning addicts from their addictions.

During peak experiences, time is usually suspended and one can be introspectively confronted with a good deal of one’s own life experience or undergo a somewhat mystical experience regarding life and death. 

Treating Cancer Patients with Psilocybin

Terminal cancer patients, whose mental condition had seriously deteriorated into severe depression or anxiety, were among the first to be treated with psilocybin, not for cancer, but for their depression and anxiety.

Dr. Anthony P. Bossis, co-principal investigator at New York University’s (NYU) Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Study had this to say about their work with cancer patients:

“The emotional, spiritual and existential distress that can often accompany a diagnosis of cancer often goes unidentified and untreated in cancer patients. Patients who have benefited from psilocybin clinical research have reported less anxiety, improved quality of life, enhanced psychological and spiritual well-being, and a greater acceptance of the life-changes brought on by cancer.”

Kings College London Center for Neuroimaging Sciences did an imaging study of subjects injected with psilocybin to determine how it affected the brain. Researcher Paul Expert explained:

One of the characteristics of the depressed brain is that it gets stuck in a loop, you get locked into repetitive and negative thoughts. The idea is that using psilocybin might help break the loop and change the patterns of functional connectivity in the brain. (The complete study)

This result creates an advantage for healing through attitude, even with the rigors of conventional oncology. Of course, their chances would be even better if they left conventional oncology behind and used suppressed natural means to become healthy once again. 

The Journal of Psychopharmacology published a study review titled Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial in November of 2016, which can be accessed here.

Treating with cannabis, which can be considered a “soft” psychedelic, usually results in both mood elevation and eliminating cancer physiologically. This video is one example of a cancer patient’s recovery from deep, morbid depression and anxiety. 

A Critical Difference Between Psilocybin and Cocaine

Opioid painkiller addictions have taken public attention away from cocaine addiction, but cocaine is still around as the drug of choice for those without pain, who can afford it as a performance enhancer or emotional boost. The addiction can also snowball into a recreational use of cocaine or crack cocaine. 

Crack cocaine or “crack” is poor man’s coke. It’s cocaine cut with baking soda and smoked, and it’s even more addictive than its source. More expensive, pure cocaine powder is sniffed up the nostrils or “snorted.” A few inject cocaine dissolved in water.  

Cocaine and crack addicts lead a life where the number one priority is obtaining and using cocaine over family, friends, career, and finances. 

What many call the “reptilian brain,” “my needs over all others and everything righteous and sacred,” is part of a cocaine addict’s mindset. Psilocybin and other psychedelics are able to interrupt that mindset. 

James Oroc, author of Tryptamine Palace: 5-MeO-DMT and the Sonoran Desert Toad, put it this way: 

The more a compound disrupts the Ego [the lowest sense of separateness], the physically safer [less toxic] that compound will be, while the more a ‘drug’ reinforces and inflates the sense of Ego, the more physically harmful (toxic) that compound will be. (Source)

Cocaine is an ego-booster, and it is quite toxic. Using it is a crude attempt at covering one’s own subverted feelings of depression, inadequacy, and other negative traits hidden from view. Unfortunately, it is also popular as a recreational drug that leads to addiction.

The mindset of one in morbid depression, or one who is in constant anxiety, is also interrupted by the psychedelic experience, allowing one to resettle into a more relaxed, higher state of being, which remains even after peak experiences from one to three sessions.

The evidence accrued from earlier psilocybin clinical studies create a case for using it, or other psychedelics, as part of a therapy for overcoming cocaine or heroin addictions, as well as a therapy for chronic depression or anxiety, instead of forcing one to cope with dangerous anti-depressant or anti-psychotic pharmaceuticals for a lifetime.

Here are two other studies to support the psychedelic approach for chronic depression and addiction.

Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance 

Safety and Efficacy of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide-Assisted Psychotherapy for Anxiety Associated With Life-threatening Diseases