An online survey of tobacco smoking cessation associated with naturalistic psychedelic use

This retrospective cross-sectional anonymous online survey (n=358) characterized individuals who reported having quit or reduced smoking after ingesting a psychedelic in a non-laboratory setting more than 1 year ago. Of the 358 participants, 38% reported continuous smoking cessation, 28% reported a persisting reduction, and 34% reported a temporary reduction before returning to baseline smoking levels.

Abstract

“Data suggest psychedelics such as psilocybin and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) may hold therapeutic potential in the treatment of addictions, including tobacco dependence. This retrospective cross-sectional anonymous online survey characterized 358 individuals (52 females) who reported having quit or reduced smoking after ingesting a psychedelic in a non-laboratory setting β©Ύ1 year ago. On average, participants smoked 14 cigarettes/day for 8 years, and had five previous quit attempts before their psychedelic experience. Of the 358 participants, 38% reported continuous smoking cessation after psychedelic use (quitters). Among quitters, 74% reported >2 years’ abstinence. Of the 358 participants, 28% reported a persisting reduction in smoking (reducers), from a mode of 300 cigarettes/month before, to a mode of 1 cigarette/month after the experience. Among reducers, 62% reported >2 years of reduced smoking. Finally, 34% of the 358 participants (relapsers) reported a temporary smoking reduction before returning to baseline smoking levels, with a mode time range to relapse of 3–6 months. Relapsers rated their psychedelic experience significantly lower in personal meaning and spiritual significance than both other groups. Participants across all groups reported less severe affective withdrawal symptoms (e.g. depression, craving) after psychedelic use compared with previous quit attempts, suggesting a potential mechanism of action for psychedelic-associated smoking cessation/reduction. Changes in life priorities/values were endorsed as the most important psychological factor associated with smoking cessation/reduction. Results suggest psychedelics may hold promise in treating tobacco addiction as potentially mediated by spiritual experience, changed priorities/values, and improved emotional regulation.”

Authors: Matthew W. Johnson, Albert Garcia-Romeu, Patrick S. Johnson & Roland R. Griffiths

Notes

This study provides more real-world context to an earlier pilot study by Johnson and colleagues (2014) which showed that 80% of participants, in the open-label study, were smoking-free after 6 months.

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