Sunday August 18, 2019

Psychedelic drug helpful in curbing addiction to smoking: Study

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Irrespective of the substance a person is addicted to, curbing an addiction is tough. Many people around the world are addicted to smoking and it is known to be a difficult habit to get rid of.

Many remedies such as Nicotine patches, cold turkey and chewing gum are tried by people globally with hardly any luck. Matthew Johnson, a behavioral pharmacologist at Johns Hopkins’ Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, Baltimore, suggests a different alternative – psilocybin – a drug that has been illegal for years, in most parts of Europe and North America.

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Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic and is the active ingredient of ‘magic mushrooms’. Illegal, but if psilocybin is given to smokers a few times, in a carefully controlled way, Johnson says that it can be remarkably effective in helping smokers kick the butt.

The use of psilocybin spread from the labs (for research) to drug counter culture which is why it was completely banned and even research was prohibited. Johnson believes that the drug has been off limits for the wrong reasons.

Now, the research by the team at John Hopkins under Matthew Johnson, has shown promising results. More than 460 psilocybin sessions have now been conducted at Johns Hopkins alone, ranging from investigating its use by cancer patients, to its effects on meditation. The Smoking Cessation programme, which has just finished its pilot stage, has attracted a lot of attention.

The volunteers are first prepared during the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, and are asked to create their own mantra, which is like something they would like to remember later in life because it could be used as a motto, which would provide them with the necessary push towards achieving their goal and quitting the habit.

After CBT, they are given the drug in tablet form, and are allowed to self-administer. Post taking the pill, they are asked to lie down, plug in earphones and relax. They are not allowed to talk, but are asked to “go inward” into their thoughts and analyse.

[Research shows there’s a] 71% success rate for people who quit smoking just after they had a heart attack,” he explains. A heart attack would certainly qualify as a profound experience, but it’s not something you can go around triggering in people in order to stop them from smoking. Instead the aim is to use a powerful psychedelic trip to trigger a similar effect… an intense, abstract experience that changes the patient’s perspective. It’s this that the team refer to as a ‘mystical experience’,” Johnson was quoted.

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New Study Reveals That Hookah Is More Toxic Than Other Forms of Smoking Tobacco

Smoking hookah may not be the best option to smoke tobacco, says a new study

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hookah is dangerous to health
Due to the greater volume inhaled in every puff and the longer duration of a smoking session, hookah is more harmful than cigarettes. Pixabay

While the popularity of hookah (tobacco pipe) has increased in recent years, researchers say it may be more dangerous than other forms of smoking tobacco.

Using a custom-built testing device, the researchers analysed emissions during a typical hookah session and found that one draw from a pipe contained as many noxious substances as a cigarette.

Hookah mainstream smoke, which is directly inhaled, has many toxic and harmful chemicals, like nicotine that can lead to tobacco addiction, irritating carbonyl compounds, and benzine, a known carcinogen,” said study lead author Veronique Perraud from University of California.

“Due to the greater volume inhaled in every puff and the longer duration of a smoking session, the hookah often delivers a higher dose of those chemicals to the smoker,” Perraud said.

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With hookah, large quantity of carbon monoxide enters the body. Pixabay

It also produced large quantity of carbon monoxide, mainly from the burning of charcoal to heat the tobacco or herbal mixture in its bowl. The study, published in journal Aerosol Science and Technology, also referred to several cases of carbon monoxide intoxication.

In addition to testing ordinary tobacco, the group also studied a nicotine-free herbal mixture, marketed as a healthier alternative, and discovered that it produced even higher levels of toxic gases.

The study is the first to characterise ultra-fine particles (with a diameter smaller than 100 nanometers) in the inhaled smoke.

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The popularity of hookah among teenagers and adults have increased in the last few years. Pixabay

Also Read: Widespread Use of Charcoal for Cooking in African Cities can Cause Devastating Damage to Forests

The researchers measured the chemical composition of gases and solids emitted during a hookah session in real time. “Through our technique of testing emissions in the beginning, midpoint and end of a smoking session, we were able to show that a smoker is exposed to a higher quantity of ultra-fine particles during the first 10 minutes compared with the rest of the session,” she said.

According to the study, these miniscule particles can pose significant health risks by making their way deep into the pulmonary system and by readily crossing the blood-brain barrier. (IANS)