OPEN Foundation

M. Bogenschutz

Assessment of Alcohol and Tobacco Use Disorders Among Religious Users of Ayahuasca.

Abstract

The aims of this study were to assess the impact of ceremonial use of ayahuasca-a psychedelic brew containing N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and β-carboline -and attendance at União do Vegetal (UDV) meetings on substance abuse; here we report the findings related to alcohol and tobacco use disorder. A total of 1,947 members of UDV 18+ years old were evaluated in terms of years of membership and ceremonial attendance during the previous 12 months. Participants were recruited from 10 states from all major regions of Brazil. Alcohol and tobacco use was evaluated through questionnaires first developed by the World Health Organization and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Analyses compared levels of alcohol and tobacco use disorder between the UDV and a national normative sample (n = 7,939). Binomial tests for proportions indicated that lifetime use of alcohol and tobacco was higher in UDV sample compared to the Brazilian norms for age ranges of 25-34 and over 34 years old, but not for the age range of 18-24 years old. However, current use disorders for alcohol and tobacco were significantly lower in the UDV sample than the Brazilian norms. Regression analyses revealed a significant impact of attendance at ayahuasca ceremonies during the previous 12 months and years of UDV membership on the reduction of alcohol and tobacco use disorder.
Ribeiro Barbosa, P. C., Tofoli, L. F., Bogenschutz, M. P., Hoy, R., Berro, L. F., Marinho, E. A., … & Winkelman, M. J. (2018). Assessment of alcohol and tobacco use disorders among religious users of ayahuasca. Frontiers in psychiatry9, 136., 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00136
Link to full text

The Psychedelic Debriefing in Alcohol Dependence Treatment: Illustrating Key Change Phenomena through Qualitative Content Analysis of Clinical Sessions

Abstract

Research on the clinical applications of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy has demonstrated promising early results for treatment of alcohol dependence. Detailed description of the content and methods of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, as it is conducted in clinical settings, is scarce.

Methods: An open-label pilot (proof-of-concept) study of psilocybin-assisted treatment of alcohol dependence (NCT01534494) was conducted to generate data for a phase 2 RCT (NCT02061293) of a similar treatment in a larger population. The present paper presents a qualitative content analysis of the 17 debriefing sessions conducted in the pilot study, which occurred the day after corresponding psilocybin medication sessions.

Results: Participants articulated a series of key phenomena related to change in drinking outcomes and acute subjective effects of psilocybin.

Discussion: The data illuminate change processes in patients’ own words during clinical sessions, shedding light on potential therapeutic mechanisms of change and how participants express effects of psilocybin. This study is unique in analyzing actual clinical sessions, as opposed to interviews of patients conducted separately from treatment.

Nielson, E. M., May, D. G., Forcehimes, A. A., & Bogenschutz, M. P. (2018). The Psychedelic Debriefing in Alcohol Dependence Treatment: Illustrating Key Change Phenomena through Qualitative Content Analysis of Clinical Sessions. Frontiers in Pharmacology9, 132. 10.3389/fphar.2018.00132
Link to full text

Clinical interpretations of patient experience in a trial of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for alcohol use disorder

Abstract

After a hiatus of some 40 years, clinical research has resumed on the use of classic hallucinogens to treat addiction. Following completion of a small open-label feasibility study, we are currently conducting a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of psilocybin-assisted treatment of alcohol use disorder. Although treatment effects cannot be analyzed until the study is complete, descriptive case studies provide a useful window into the therapeutic process of psychedelic-assisted treatment of addiction. Here we describe treatment trajectories of three participants in the ongoing trial to illustrate the range of experiences and persisting effects of psilocybin treatment. Although it is difficult to generalize from a few cases, several qualitative conclusions can be drawn from the data presented here. Although participants often find it difficult to describe much of their psilocybin experience, pivotal moments tend to be individualized, extremely vivid, and memorable. Often, the qualitative content extends beyond the clinical problem that is being addressed. The participants discussed in this paper experienced acute and lasting alterations in their perceptions of self, in the quality of their baseline consciousness, and in their relationship with alcohol and drinking. In these cases, experiences of catharsis, forgiveness, self-compassion, and love were at least as salient as classic mystical content. Finally, feelings of increased “spaciousness” or mindfulness, and increased control over choices and behavior were reported following the drug administration sessions. Ultimately, psilocybin-assisted treatment appears to elicit experiences that are extremely variable, yet seem to meet the particular needs of the individual.

Bogenschutz, M. P., Podrebarac, S. K., Duane, J. H., Amegadzie, S. S., Malone, T. C., Owens, L. T., … & Mennenga, S. E. (2018). Clinical interpretations of patient experience in a trial of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for alcohol use disorder. Frontiers in Pharmacology9, 100. 10.3389/fphar.2018.00100
Link to full text

Therapeutic Applications of Classic Hallucinogens

Abstract

This chapter reviews what is known about the therapeutic uses of the serotonergic or classic hallucinogens, i.e., psychoactive drugs such as LSD and psilocybin that exert their effects primarily through agonist activity at serotonin 2A (5HT2A) receptors. Following a review of the history of human use and scientific study of these drugs, the data from clinical research are summarized, including extensive work on the use of classic hallucinogens in the treatment of alcoholism and other addictions, studies of the use of LSD and psilocybin to relieve distress concerning death, particularly in patients with advanced or terminal cancer, and more limited data concerning the use of classic hallucinogens to treat mood and anxiety disorders. A survey of possible mechanisms of clinically relevant effects is provided. The well-established safety of classic hallucinogens is reviewed. To provide a clinical perspective, case summaries are provided of two individuals who received treatment in recent controlled trials of psilocybin: one being treated for alcoholism, the other suffering from anxiety and depression related to fear of death due to a cancer diagnosis. Although promising early phase research conducted from the 1950s through the early 1970s was discontinued before firm conclusions could be reached concerning the efficacy of any of the classic hallucinogens for any clinical condition, the research that was conducted in that era strongly suggests that classic hallucinogens have clinically relevant effects, particularly in the case of LSD treatment of alcoholism. In the past decade, clinical trials have resumed investigating the effects of classic hallucinogens in the treatment of existential distress in the face of cancer, and in the treatment of addictions including alcoholism and nicotine addiction. The studies that have been completed to date are not sufficient to establish efficacy, but the outcomes have been very encouraging, and larger trials, up to and including phase 3, are now underway or being planned. Although research has elucidated many of the acute neurobiological and psychological effects of classic hallucinogens on humans, animals, and in vitro systems, the mechanisms of clinically relevant persisting effects remain poorly understood.
Bogenschutz, M. P., & Ross, S. (2016). Therapeutic applications of classic hallucinogens. 10.1007/7854_2016_464
Link to full text

Development of a Psychotherapeutic Model for Psilocybin-Assisted Treatment of Alcoholism

Abstract

Research activity on the potential clinical value of classic hallucinogens and other psychedelics has increased markedly in the past two decades, and promises to continue to expand. Experimental study of hallucinogen-assisted treatment, and any future clinical use, requires the development of psychotherapeutic models that are appropriate to the disorder being treated and effectively integrated with the pharmacologic component of the treatment. To provide a framework for thinking about possible treatment models, we provide an overview of the history of psychedelic-assisted treatment, review what is known about the therapeutic mechanisms of these treatments, and consider the various purposes of psychotherapy in the context of both research and clinical use of psychedelic-assisted treatment. We then provide a description of a therapy model we have developed and are currently using in a trial of psilocybin-assisted treatment for alcoholism. Finally, we discuss advantages and disadvantages of a range of alternative models, emphasizing the need for research to determine the most effective treatment models for any indications for which efficacy becomes established.

Bogenschutz, M. P., & Forcehimes, A. A. (2016). Development of a Psychotherapeutic Model for Psilocybin-Assisted Treatment of Alcoholism. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 0022167816673493.
Link to full text

It’s time to take psilocybin seriously as a possible treatment for substance use disorders.

Bogenschutz, M. P. (2016). It’s time to take psilocybin seriously as a possible treatment for substance use disorders. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 1-3. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00952990.2016.1200060
Link to full text

It's time to take psilocybin seriously as a possible treatment for substance use disorders.

Bogenschutz, M. P. (2016). It’s time to take psilocybin seriously as a possible treatment for substance use disorders. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 1-3. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00952990.2016.1200060
Link to full text

Classic hallucinogens in the treatment of addictions

Abstract

Addictive disorders are very common and have devastating individual and social consequences. Currently available treatment is moderately effective at best. After many years of neglect, there is renewed interest in potential clinical uses for classic hallucinogens in the treatment of addictions and other behavioral health conditions. In this paper we provide a comprehensive review of both historical and recent clinical research on the use of classic hallucinogens in the treatment of addiction, selectively review other relevant research concerning hallucinogens, and suggest directions for future research. Clinical trial data are very limited except for the use of LSD in the treatment of alcoholism, where a meta-analysis of controlled trials has demonstrated a consistent and clinically significant beneficial effect of high-dose LSD. Recent pilot studies of psilocybin-assisted treatment of nicotine and alcohol dependence had strikingly positive outcomes, but controlled trials will be necessary to evaluate the efficacy of these treatments. Although plausible biological mechanisms have been proposed, currently the strongest evidence is for the role of mystical or other meaningful experiences as mediators of therapeutic effects. Classic hallucinogens have an excellent record of safety in the context of clinical research. Given our limited understanding of the clinically relevant effects of classic hallucinogens, there is a wealth of opportunities for research that could contribute important new knowledge and potentially lead to valuable new treatments for addiction.

Bogenschutz, M. P., & Johnson, M. W. (2015). Classic hallucinogens in the treatment of addictions. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pnpbp.2015.03.002
Link to full text

Psilocybin-assisted treatment for alcohol dependence: A proof-of-concept study

Abstract

Several lines of evidence suggest that classic (5HT2A agonist) hallucinogens have clinically relevant effects in alcohol and drug addiction. Although recent studies have investigated the effects of psilocybin in various populations, there have been no studies on the efficacy of psilocybin for alcohol dependence. We conducted a single-group proof-of-concept study to quantify acute effects of psilocybin in alcohol-dependent participants and to provide preliminary outcome and safety data. Ten volunteers with DSM-IV alcohol dependence received orally administered psilocybin in one or two supervised sessions in addition to Motivational Enhancement Therapy and therapy sessions devoted to preparation for and debriefing from the psilocybin sessions. Participants’ responses to psilocybin were qualitatively similar to those described in other populations. Abstinence did not increase significantly in the first 4 weeks of treatment (when participants had not yet received psilocybin), but increased significantly following psilocybin administration (p < 0.05). Gains were largely maintained at follow-up to 36 weeks. The intensity of effects in the first psilocybin session (at week 4) strongly predicted change in drinking during weeks 5–8 (r = 0.76 to r = 0.89) and also predicted decreases in craving and increases in abstinence self-efficacy during week 5. There were no significant treatment-related adverse events. These preliminary findings provide a strong rationale for controlled trials with larger samples to investigate efficacy and mechanisms.

Bogenschutz, M. P., Forcehimes, A. A, Pommy, J. A., Wilcox, C. E., Barbosa, P. C. R., & Strassman, R. J. (2015). Psilocybin-assisted treatment for alcohol dependence: A proof-of-concept study. Journal of Psychopharmacology. https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0269881114565144

Link to full text

Studying the Effects of Classic Hallucinogens in the Treatment of Alcoholism: Rationale, Methodology, and Current Research with Psilocybin

Abstract

Recent developments in the study of classic hallucinogens, combined with a re-appraisal of the older literature, have led to a renewal of interest in possible therapeutic applications for these drugs, notably their application in the treatment of addictions. This article will first provide a brief review of the research literature providing direct and indirect support for the possible therapeutic effects of classic hallucinogens such as psilocybin and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in the treatment of addictions. Having provided a rationale for clinical investigation in this area, we discuss design issues in clinical trials using classic hallucinogens, some of which are unique to this class of drug. We then discuss the current status of this field of research and design considerations in future randomized trials.

Bogenschutz, M. P. (2013). Studying the Effects of Classic Hallucinogens in the Treatment of Alcoholism: Rationale, Methodology, and Current Research with Psilocybin. Current Drug Abuse Reviews, 6(1), 17-29.
Link to full text

30 April - Q&A with Rick Strassman

X