How to quit smoking? Quitting smoking can be a challenging task due to the addictive nature of nicotine. The body becomes accustomed to receiving regular doses of nicotine to function properly, making it difficult to quit smoking.
A 2014 study on smoking cessation indicated that psychedelics were successful in encouraging some individuals in quitting smoking for years. The University of Cincinnati researchers looked at the post-treatment notebooks maintained by study participants.
In a recent study that was published in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, researchers examined the participants’ own statements and discovered that psychedelics and talk therapy often assisted long-term smokers in coming to terms with quitting.
This new core identity may contribute to the reasons why 60% of participants were still smoke-free after five years and 80% of individuals were able to quit smoking for six months.
According to a 2014 study from Johns Hopkins University, those who wished to stop smoking and used psilocybin, the primary hallucinogen in psychedelic mushrooms, together with cognitive behavioral therapy, had a far higher success rate than people who used other conventional quit-smoking strategies.
Neşe Devenot, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cincinnati, said the findings show how psychedelics might alter one’s image of oneself in order to assist in overcoming addictions or bad behaviors in the face of everyday cues and temptations.
Devenot notes: “We saw again and again that people had this feeling that they were done with smoking and that they were a nonsmoker now.”
She does research on psychedelics at the University of California’s Center for Research in Sensing.
According to Devenot, this new sense of self may provide protection against temptation or previous triggers.
“If you want to give up meat but you smell a delicious steak, it might be hard to resist,” she said. “But if you identify as a vegetarian and your sense of who you are is someone who does not eat meat, that identity helps encourage a different choice.”
In the guided visualization exercises used in the smoking cessation trial, therapists instructed individuals to see smoking as a habit distinct from their inner personalities. The participants wrote down their experiences.
The study’s guided visualization exercise presented nicotine addiction as an outside entity that controls behavior for its own purposes, much like the zombie-creating fungus in HBO’s well-known series “The Last of Us.”
Smoking behavior is classified as a sort of parasite manipulation, similar to how the Cordyceps fungus effectively converts insects into “zombified” marionettes to aid the fungus’ own reproductive needs, the research found.
According to Johns Hopkins University assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences Albert Garcia-Romeu, psilocybin may act as a catalyst to inspire and drive individuals to make a change with the assistance of cognitive behavioral therapy.
According to Garcia-Romeu, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy involves paying attention to the thoughts and emotions that we encounter in our daily lives and how they influence our actions. As a result, individuals frequently develop a narrative or self-concept based on these thoughts and behaviors.
This prepares the user for the psilocybin experience, which may provide fresh views and insights as well as function as a rite of passage marker for identity shifts like the transition from smoker to nonsmoker, for example.
Just 15 people made up the experiment’s sample size, according to Devenot. Yet, the outcomes are promising.
One participant wrote: “I feel that I am somehow fundamentally different to yesterday. I guess I feel like some sort of metamorphosis has taken place!”
According to several individuals, psilocybin therapy made quitting seem simple in comparison to prior attempts. Another person said that nicotine cravings used to be intolerable. Nonetheless, the subject was unable to even envision having a cigarette urge throughout the dosage period.
One person said, “the concept seems firmly cemented into my reality even today, that cravings are not something that are real,”
How can psychedelics contribute to this transformation?
According to Devenot, individuals often get into behavioral ruts, reacting, in the same manner, to stresses or other stimuli. She compares it to a downhill skier who consistently follows the same grooved route down the mountain.
“It’s not that simple,” Devenot added, “but it’s a metaphor for how we talk about psychedelics.”
“Psychedelics have been compared to skiing in fresh snow,” she remarked. “The entrenched grooves of bad habits might not have as much pull on our skis, so we can lay down other paths.”
Devenot stated that they are searching for approaches to assist individuals in altering their behaviors and overcoming the resistance of their habits, aligning them more closely with their objectives and aspirations.
“That’s why psychedelics are of wider interest to researchers.”
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