Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Invited Tutorial #323
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Psychedelics as Adjunct Medications in Behavioral Treatments of Addiction
Monday, May 25, 2015
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
006AB (CC)
Area: BPH/CBM; Domain: Basic Research
PSY/BACB CE Offered. CE Instructor: Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D.
Chair: Paul L. Soto (Texas Tech University)
Presenting Authors: : MATTHEW W. JOHNSON (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)

Converging evidence suggests that 5-HT2AR agonist psychedelics (classic hallucinogens) may hold a future in addiction treatment. Observational studies have reported addiction recovery associated with the ceremonial use of 5-HT2AR agonists (mescaline, dimethyltryptamine) by indigenous cultures. A meta-analysis of randomized studies from several decades ago showed that administration of 5-HT2AR agonist lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in alcoholism treatment resulted in significantly less alcohol misuse than randomized control conditions, with a large effect size (odds ratio ~2). Research with 5-HT2AR agonist psilocybin in nonaddicted individuals shows effects suggestive of antiaddiction efficacy, including positive behavior change as assessed by experimentally blinded community observers, increased personality openness, and high ratings of personal meaning at long-term follow ups. In a recent open-label pilot study of psilocybin as an adjunct to cognitive behavioral smoking cessation therapy in 15 treatment-refractory participants, 80% showed biologically verified smoking abstinence at 6-month follow-up. Although not definitive, these results are substantially greater than typical treatments. Another recent pilot study suggested safety and efficacy of psilocybin as an adjunct to Motivational Enhancement Therapy for alcoholism. This presentation will review this research, describe ongoing randomized trials, and discuss potential behavioral mechanisms.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Applied and basic behavior analysts interested in research on the use of hallucinogens in the treatment of addiction.

Learning Objectives: 1) Participants will describe multiple lines of evidence suggesting potential efficacy of classic psychedelics in addictions treatment.
2) Participants will describe the results of a recent pilot study examining psilocybin in the treatment of tobacco addiction.
3) Participants will describe potential mechanisms by which psychechedelics may improve addiction treatment outcomes.
MATTHEW W. JOHNSON (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
The underlying theme of Dr. Matthew Johnson's career has been to understand and facilitate human behavioral change, particularly behavioral change in addiction recovery. Toward that end, much of Dr. Johnson's research has applied behavioral economic concepts such as delay discounting and demand elasticity to decision making underlying addiction. His recent research has applied these models to understand the high rates of sexual HIV risk behavior associated with certain abused drugs (e.g., cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol). This line of research has suggested that delay discounting is a critical but under-appreciated variable influencing sexual risk behavior. Another focus of Dr. Johnson's research involves laboratory studies determining the behavioral effects of psychoactive drugs in humans, including novel or atypical drugs. This work has examined psychedelics including psilocybin, dextromethorphan, and salvinorin A (from the plant Salvia divinorum), stimulants including cocaine, methamphetamine, nicotine, and caffeine, and various sedatives including GHB and alcohol. Current research with the psychedelic drug psilocybin is examining its potential for facilitating behavior change. These studies include a trial determining the ability of psilocybin to increase engagement in a meditation program, a trial testing if psilocybin can decrease anxiety and depression in cancer patients, and a study examining psilocybin as an anti-addiction medication for tobacco smoking cessation.
Keyword(s): addiction treatment, cognitive behavioral, psilocybin, psychedelic



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