Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But researchers think psychedelics have a unique ability to unlock patterns in the brain that lead to addiction—notably nicotine addiction.
Mydecine Innovations Group announced on August 18 it has signed a five-year research agreement with Johns Hopkins University (JHU) School of Medicine, to study the efficacy of psychedelic formulations for smoking cessation.
While Mydecine Innovations Group is not disclosing the types of psychedelics to be used in the study, researchers have already explored psilocybin for the treatment of addiction and ketamine for the treatment of addiction, for starters.
“We are excited to expand on the current work we are conducting with Dr. Matt Johnson and his team at JHU in regards to smoking cessation to include numerous other projects over the next five years,” Mydecine CEO Josh Bartch stated in a press release. “The researchers at JHU have proven their incredible depth of knowledge in the field.”
Research to be led by Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Matthew W. Johnson, Ph. D. While research into psychedelics for medical purposes is young, the Johns Hopkins Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit has extensive experience conducting clinical research related to therapeutic use of psychedelics.
“The long-term potential of this research agreement is captivating for us here at Mydecine,” said Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of Mydecine, Rob Roscow. “It demonstrates our commitment to advancing psychedelic medicine by exploring multiple molecules and medicines for a variety of indications.”
The researchers pointed out that it’s important not to forget the deaths caused by tobacco, despite the focus on opioid addiction lately.
“Despite the recent attention to opiate and dependence on other illicit substances, we sometimes forget about the incredible burden that nicotine dependence has on our societies,” said Dr. Rakesh Jetly, Chief Medical Officer, Mydecine. “According to the CDC, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans each year. Despite all the public education and dire warnings, cigarette smoking remains one of the most difficult addiction to treat and contributes to more deaths than all the other substances combined, making research like this vital.”
Smoking Tobacco vs. Smoking Cannabis
While tobacco kills nearly half a million Americans each year, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that cannabis generally does not lead to overdoses, despite common freak-outs out after eating edibles.
“There are no reports of teens or young adults dying from an overdose of marijuana alone,” the organization states. “But there are reports of individuals who have sought treatment in emergency rooms, reporting uncomfortable side effects after consuming high THC levels in smoked marijuana or marijuana edibles.”
Cannabis smoke is not as equally carcinogenic as tobacco smoke—yes, there is a big difference. There are many reasons for quitting tobacco, however.
The American Cancer Society paints a sobering picture of how much a difference quitting smoking cigarettes can do. Your body changes within minutes and hours after quitting.
Twenty minutes after quitting—your heart rate and blood pressure drop. A few days after quitting, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. Two weeks to three months after quitting, your circulation improves and your lung function increases. One to 12 months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
“Tiny hair-like structures (called cilia) that move mucus out of the lungs start to regain normal function, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection,” The American Cancer Society reports. One to two years after quitting, your risk of heart attack drops dramatically.
Here’s what happens in the long-term:
Five to 10 years after quitting, your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, and voice box is cut in half. Your stroke risk decreases. Ten years after quitting, your risk of lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking (after 10-15 years). Your risk of cancer of the bladder, esophagus, and kidney also decreases. Fifteen years after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is close to that of a non-smoker.
Benjamin M. Adams is Staff Writer at High Times, and has written for Vice, Forbes, HuffPost, The Advocate, Culture, and many other publications. He holds a Bachelor of Communication from Southern New Hampshire University.