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Psilocybin Mushrooms Offer Hope For Lasting Recovery From Alcoholism

Written by: Fae Chubin and the Mushroom Tao team

Back to all

Psilocybin Mushrooms Offer Hope For Lasting Recovery From Alcoholism

Written by: Fae Chubin and the Mushroom Tao team

Magic mushrooms provide a groundbreaking approach to alcohol use disorder (AUD), targeting deep-seated emotional causes behind addiction. Psilocybin therapy shows promise in reducing cravings and negative self-perceptions, crucial for recovery. Early studies indicate its potential for significantly cutting down alcohol consumption, with some achieving sobriety. This therapy could revolutionize AUD treatment, emphasizing the integration of psilocybin into conventional practices pending further research.

Psilocybin therapy is becoming a sought-after treatment for alcohol use disorder.

Magic mushrooms can treat more than simply the symptoms of addiction. People are drawn to alcohol or other substances as a coping mechanism. A lasting recovery from alcoholism requires treating the root causes of difficult emotions.

Many people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) are deeply sensitive people. If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol use disorder, please know that this sensitivity is a gift that can become a superpower once you heal the underlying pain.

"The success of psilocybin therapy is partially due to its ability to reduce people’s self-critical and shame-based thinking patterns while reducing alcohol cravings."

In this blog, we’ll examine the causes of alcohol use disorder to see which groups are at a higher risk for developing AUD. Then, we'll dive into psilocybin, its impact on the brain, and the magical quality of mushrooms for treating addiction.

First, let’s see what alcohol use disorder is and how to measure when drinking becomes a disorder.

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder and Who Is at Risk?

Alcohol use disorder occurs when you struggle to keep your drinking under control. Especially when it causes problems in your relationships, job, or health. It’s a pattern of alcohol use, such as binge drinking, that’s putting your health or safety at risk.

AUD can be mild, moderate, or severe. If you are wondering if your alcohol use is turning into a disorder, some signs and symptoms can give you the answer.

You might have heard that genetics is a big predictor of developing AUD. While genetics can have an impact, it’s often the relationship between our genes and the environment that causes an addiction. For instance, witnessing a parent’s out-of-control drinking habits or having a friend or a partner who drinks regularly. Both are environmental causes that increase the likelihood of someone developing AUD.

It’s also common for people who struggle with depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder to have problems with alcohol or other forms of substance abuse.

People with a history of trauma, such as childhood trauma, may also struggle with AUD. The absence of proper coping mechanisms to deal with trauma often results in substance abuse. 75% of people who have experienced abuse or violent traumatic events report alcohol problems.1

AUD is also common among veterans. About 20% of military service members engage in heavy drinking. Exposure to combat increases the chances of struggling with alcohol abuse.2 That’s why 60-80% of Vietnam Veterans seeking PTSD treatment struggle with alcohol use disorder.3

Although people use alcohol to cope with difficult emotions, alcohol depresses the central nervous system. This leads to lasting changes to the brain that cause further decline in mental health.

The good news is no matter how severe your dependency on alcohol is, there are evidence-based treatments that can help you overcome this condition.

Traditional treatments for AUD have proven effective but don’t create the desired long-term effects in lasting recovery from alcoholism. Relapse is a common struggle, and getting back on track requires a great deal of self-compassion.

That’s why new treatment options like psilocybin therapy are being investigated. Psilocybin therapy is showing promising results for treating addiction, including alcohol use disorder.

Let’s see what psilocybin mushrooms are and why they are effective in treating AUD in as little as two treatment sessions.

How Does Psilocybin Treat Alcohol Addiction?

Commonly known as magic mushrooms, psilocybin mushrooms are a group of fungi that have been used for millennia in spiritual ceremonies. While many in the Western world know them as recreational drugs, in recent decades, they captured scientists’ attention for their healing properties.

If used in a proper setting and combined with supportive therapy, psilocybin mushrooms can be effective for treating a wide range of mental health disorders, such as:

Psilocybin interacts with the serotonin receptors in the brain. Depending on the person and the dosage, this can create a wide range of psychedelic effects. By activating neural connectivity and brain metabolic activity, it can influence cognitive function and perception.5

Many report experiencing deeply meaningful spiritual and mystical experiences on psilocybin mushrooms.6 These mystical experiences take different forms. People might experience a sense of connection to a higher power, the universe, nature, or their humanity. Regardless, these spiritual experiences have proven to increase people’s sense of happiness and their ability to kick bad habits.7


For those who struggle with alcohol use disorder, negative self-conscious emotions such as shame and guilt play a key role. People might gravitate to substance use to escape or avoid feelings of shame. But this leads to more shame due to the stigma around abusing alcohol. This “shame addiction cycle” can become a critical barrier to recovery.

The success of psilocybin therapy is partially due to its ability to reduce people’s self-critical and shame-based thinking patterns while reducing alcohol cravings.


In a qualitative study, researchers interviewed those who participated in psilocybin therapy for AUD to learn about their subjective experiences.8 Most participants said that alcohol use was a destructive coping strategy they had picked up in their adult lives. Alcohol use was a strategy to suppress uncomfortable emotions rooted in their childhoods.

These participants reported that psilocybin treatment allowed them to process those emotions that were related to painful experiences in their past. This emotional processing increased their sense of self-awareness and self-compassion.

By diminishing the self-critical voice in their head, psilocybin created enduring improvements in their ability to regulate their emotions. A key piece in lasting recovery from alcoholism.

Psilocybin treatment helped prevent future relapse by allowing participants to develop adaptive and healthy coping strategies.
When faced with stressful events and cravings, they were able to rely on these strategies.

Participants’ new sense of connectedness and belonging helped with improving interpersonal relations with close friends and family members. These improved relations also aided participants in their process of recovery.

Recovery From Alcoholism With Psilocybin

The findings of studies on psilocybin therapy for treating AUD are very promising. The first randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial for treating AUD was led by NYU Langone Center for Psychedelic Medicine.

93 men and women between the ages of 25 and 65 participated in this eight-month trial. They received two psilocybin doses (or antihistamine pills if in the placebo group) and received 12 therapy sessions.9

80% of those who received psilocybin treatment showed a significant decrease in alcohol use eight months after the study started. 50% of participants who received psilocybin had completely quit drinking by the end of the trial.

The magical quality of psilocybin mushrooms lies in their ability to soften self-perceptionself-perception. Many people with alcohol addiction have very rigid and strong beliefs about themselves. It’s often hard to disrupt these beliefs and encourage a new perspective, hindering their recovery from alcoholism. Mystical experiences provide a fresh and compassionate outlook that can resolve these rigid thinking patterns.

Psilocybin reshapes neural networks in the brain related to addictive habits. This is likely why people experience long-term, positive effects.

Five more clinical trials began in September of 2022 to evaluate the impact of psilocybin therapy on alcohol use disorder. These rigorous studies are necessary to fully assess the efficacy of psilocybin for treating AUD. But so far, we have encouraging evidence that psilocybin therapy can be effectively incorporated into modern medicine.10

Everyone’s experience with psilocybin is different. Visuals, recovered memories, and mystical experiences vary from person to person. There are still many questions about how psychedelics deliver such extraordinary results in recovery from alcoholism. However, research shows that the greater the mystical experience, the greater the therapeutic benefits.

Taking the Next Step

Conventional treatments for alcohol use disorder, such as talk therapy or 12-step programs, have been life-saving for many. Yet, the rate of relapse remains surprisingly high. And the religious undertones of 12-step programs discourage many from accessing the support they need.

Psilocybin therapy has shown powerful results in treating a range of addictions. This is due to psilocybin’s capacity for revealing the subconscious mind, confronting traumas from a compassionate perspective, and deepening connection to life’s meaning.

It’s important to know that it’s not psilocybin alone that creates these positive changes. Proper set and setting, the support of a professional facilitator, and talk therapy play a key role in having a positive experience and integrating the newfound perspective into day-to-day life.

If you are seeking recovery from alcoholism or wish to get connected with expert support and comprehensive resources, Mushroom Tao can offer you the help you need. Reach out to us and book a free consultation.

You can also visit the Tripsitters directory to connect with people, organizations, and communities that can support you in your healing journey.

References:

  1. PTSD and Problems with Alcohol Use
  2. Veterans and Alcoholism
  3. PTSD and Problems with Alcohol Use
  4. Psilocybin for the Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders
  5. Psilocybin and Mental Health: The Magic in the Mushrooms
  6. Psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience in combination with meditation and other spiritual practices produces enduring positive changes in psychological functioning and in trait measures of prosocial attitudes and behaviors
  7. What happens when psychedelics make you see God
  8. Research Uncovers Therapeutic Mechanisms Behind Psilocybin Therapy for Alcoholism
  9. Percentage of Heavy Drinking Days Following Psilocybin-Assisted Psychotherapy vs Placebo in the Treatment of Adult Patients With Alcohol Use Disorder
  10. IUPHAR-review: The Integration of Classic Psychedelics into Current Substance Use Disorder Treatment Models

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