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Aftercare Needs Related to Pilot Participant Data from the Ongoing Double Blind Placebo-Controlled Psilocybin for Alcohol Dependence Clinical Trial at NYU
Samantha K. Podrebarac, M.Sc.
Co-authors: Holly Duane, Sarah Mennenga, Tara Malone, Jane Dowling, Elizabeth Nielson, Stephen Ross, Michael P. Bogenschutz
Saturday, April 22, 2017 • 2:00 PM - 2:30 PM • Jr. Ballroom
Continuing Education


Samantha K. Podrebarac headshot

Psychedelics have demonstrated potential, both clinically and across a small number of research studies, to treat alcoholism. One study demonstrated efficacy and acute treatment potential of psilocybin for alcohol dependence in a small number of participants (N=10) and has established the basis for the present double blind placebo-controlled clinical trial (N=180).

Pilot subject data from the ongoing trial examining the long-term therapeutic potential of psilocybin for treatment of alcoholism will be presented. This trial involves two double blind dosing sessions in a framework of motivational interviewing therapy. A third open-label psilocybin dosing session is available at 38 weeks, and participants are followed to 54 weeks.

The blind from our pilot data will be broken and the trajectory of two participants, NYP4 (diphenhydramine control) and NYP5 (psilocybin), will be compared to contrast the difference in mystical experience and drinking behavior. NYP4 did not reduce drinking, while NYP5 maintained abstinence from the first psilocybin medication session to completion of the trial. Patients’ drinking, qualitative experiences across dosing sessions, and persisting outcome measures including: dimensions of spirituality, mood, personality, significance of their experience, perspectives on relationships, and their relationship to God will be compared.

This data suggests promising treatment effects of psilocybin on alcohol dependence. The results from the pilot control participant also suggest a need for aftercare, particularly for those receiving psilocybin only in the third dosing session.

This presentation will also include an overview of an ancillary meditative practice study developed on the basis of our pilot control participant expressing a need for continued integration following the open-label psilocybin dosing. The aftercare component features randomization to one of two styles of meditative practice (loving-kindness and mindfulness meditation) – with follow up assessments of drinking behavior, self compassion, and spirituality to one year following completion of the main trial.

Samantha Podrebarac, M.Sc., is a researcher with the NYU team and a clinical psychology graduate student at the Spirituality Mind-Body Institute at Columbia University. She is currently coordinating a phase II clinical trial examining the therapeutic potential of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy on alcohol dependence, along with the ancillary fMRI study on the neural correlates of psilocybin treatment. She completed her MSc in Neuroscience through the Brain and Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario. Samantha is interested in exploring the role that altered states of consciousness, particularly mystical states, have in the trajectory of human psychological development. Additional interests include: non-psychedelic routes to peak states, the integration of spirituality in end of life care, and the use of psychedelic substances in conjunction with contemplative practices to understand the nature of consciousness, perceived reality, and the unconscious mind.

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