The psychedelic debriefing in alcohol dependence treatment: illustrating key change phenomena through qualitative content analysis of clinical sessions

This open-label pilot study (n=10) of psilocybin-assisted treatment of alcohol dependence (21mg/70kg) presents a qualitative content analysis of the 17 debriefing sessions conducted in the pilot study, which occurred the day after corresponding psilocybin medication sessions. Participants articulated a series of key phenomena related to change in drinking outcomes and acute subjective effects of psilocybin.

Abstract

Background: 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.”

Authors: Elizabeth M. Nielson, Darrick G. May, Alyssa A. Forcehimes & Michael P. Bogenschutz

Notes

This study reports further on Bogenschutz and colleagues (2015) which explains the full proof-of-concept study.

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