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UAB researcher receives federal grant for psychedelic study


Psychedelics are no longer exiled to hippie culture. UAB’s Dr. Peter Hendricks received the first federal grant for psychedelics research in 50 years. He hopes to prove that psilocybin can help with addiction. Psilocybin is the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms.

Hendricks’ study will recruit smokers who wish to quit. Participants will undergo therapy sessions to build up trust with the administrators of the study. They will then take psilocybin in a medical setting accompanied by two trusted therapists. Hendricks is optimistic about the study’s effectiveness.

“For someone who is addicted to cigarettes, their experience might be one where they’re nagged by urges, constant urges to use. Psilocybin, for reasons we don’t completely understand, seems to allow for a broadening of that focus,” he said.

Hendricks and his team received a $4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Researchers in Maryland and New York will also implement the study. Hendricks says early data shows that a psychedelic experience can open up an addict’s tunnel vision.

“An experience that makes you feel amazed. Where you feel a sense of wonder. Where you might have goosebumps, where your jaw is on the floor. Where you’re in the presence of something that’s so vast and so outside your understanding that you have to change the way you view reality,” he said.

Research could begin in 2022.

Libby Foster is a news intern for Alabama Public Radio.
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