BREAKING: Johns Hopkins Medicine receives federal grant for psychedelic treatment research, the first in over fifty years

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded Johns Hopkins Medicine a federal grant for exploring the potential impacts of psilocybin on tobacco addiction.

This grant, totaling $4 million, is the first to be awarded by the NIH in over 50 years that would directly focus on the therapeutic effects of psychedelics (Johns Hopkins Medicine). The study will be led by Johns Hopkins Medicine in collaboration with the University of Alabama at Birmingham and New York University. The study will be conducted at all three institutions simultaneously in order to ensure participants are diversified and to increase confidence in results.

Principal investigator Matthew Johnson says, “the historical importance of this grant is monumental. We knew it was only a matter of time before the NIH would fund this work because the data are so compelling and because this work has demonstrated to be safe. Psilocybin does have very real risks, but these risks are squarely mitigated in controlled settings through screening, preparation, monitoring and follow-up care.” Johnson, Ph.D., is a Susan Hill Ward Professor in Psychedelics and Consciousness in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Psychedelic research has been a growing interest over the past 20 years. However, these studies have largely been funded by philanthropy rather than government funding. Despite this, these studies have led to advancements in major depressive disorder and more. Thirteen years ago, Johnson started a line of research testing the classic psychedelic, psilocybin, and its effects on aiding in quitting smoking tobacco.

Psilocybin is a compound found in certain mushrooms that produce hallucinations and euphoria, effects that are similar to that of LSD. The current study will involve psilocybin combined with cognitive behavior therapy to produce a kind of psychotherapy that is focused on finding negative thought patterns that have led to addiction. Research has suggested that psilocybin could help break addictive thought patterns that come with long-term smoking, which may help people quit.

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