Psilocybin-Occasioned Mystical Experiences in the Treatment of Tobacco Addiction
Roland R. Griffiths,
Matthew W. Johnson.
Psilocybin-occasioned mystical experiences have been linked to persisting effects in healthy
volunteers including positive changes in behavior, attitudes, and values, and increases in the personality
domain of openness. In an open-label pilot-study of psilocybin-facilitated smoking addiction treatment, 15
smokers received 2 or 3 doses of psilocybin in the context of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for smoking
cessation. Twelve of 15 participants (80%) demonstrated biologically verified smoking abstinence at 6-month
follow-up. Participants who were abstinent at 6 months (n=12) were compared to participants still smoking at
6 months (n=3) on measures of subjective effects of psilocybin. Abstainers scored significantly higher on a
measure of psilocybin-occasioned mystical experience. No significant differences in general intensity of drug
effects were found between groups, suggesting that mystical-type subjective effects, rather than overall intensity of drug effects,
were responsible for smoking cessation. Nine of 15 participants (60%) met criteria for “complete” mystical experience. Smoking
cessation outcomes were significantly correlated with measures of mystical experience on session days, as well as retrospective
ratings of personal meaning and spiritual significance of psilocybin sessions. These results suggest a mediating role of mystical
experience in psychedelic-facilitated addiction treatment.
Keywords: Addiction, hallucinogen, mystical experience, nicotine, psilocybin, psychedelic, smoking cessation, tobacco.
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