HomeNewsUK scientists explore psilocybin as treatment for gambling addiction

UK scientists explore psilocybin as treatment for gambling addiction

In a pioneering move, a team of neuropharmacologists based in the UK are on the brink of conducting a world-first clinical trial, investigating the potential of psilocybin as a treatment for gambling addiction.

This groundbreaking study will administer psilocybin, the mind-altering component found in some fungi, to test subjects from October, in hopes of pioneering a treatment that might eventually be offered by the NHS for those suffering from gambling addiction.

The trial is championed by four leading neuropharmacologists from Imperial College London, including the notable former government drug tsar, David Nutt.

Heading the initiative is Rayyan Zafar, based at London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research & Neuropsychopharmacology.

Collaborating closely with the National Problem Gambling Clinic, Zafar expressed enthusiasm about the impending trial, noting that this would be the first time a gambling addict receives psychedelic therapy in a clinical setting.

Initiating with a cohort of five patients, the team plans to increase the number next year, contingent on the outcomes and further calibrations to the study’s parameters.

While the application of psilocybin for gambling addiction might be novel in the UK, its therapeutic potential has been tested in other addictions such as drug abuse and smoking.

Impressively, a similar study in the US observed that alcoholics, post-psilocybin treatment, reduced their alcohol consumption by more than half.

Zafar is optimistic that these remarkable results in treating substance addiction can be mirrored in their efforts with gambling addiction.

He points out that the symptoms exhibited in gambling addicts parallel those in people addicted to substances like alcohol and heroin.

The soaring rates of gambling addiction in the UK underscore the urgency of this research.

Sadly, only around 3% of those grappling with this addiction in the UK seek professional intervention, and there’s a notable void in licensed drugs or therapies targeting this ailment.

Highlighting the gravity of this societal issue, the research has secured funding from Imperial College London, backed by the UK government – a noteworthy development given that psychedelic research traditionally hasn’t been a priority in governmental funding in the UK.

As stories of financial hardships, broken relationships, and tragic losses due to gambling flood in, it’s evident that finding an effective treatment for this addiction is paramount.

With governmental support, there’s hope that Zafar’s groundbreaking initiative of using psilocybin as a treatment could offer a lifeline to those ensnared by the compulsive grip of gambling.


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