Researchers from the University of Cincinnati have suggested that psychedelic drugs can help people change unwanted behaviours by altering their perceptions of themselves.
The team analysed the post-treatment journals of a group of participants in a 2014 smoking cessation study, and discovered that psychedelics, when used in combination with talk therapy, often helped long-time smokers begin to see themselves as nonsmokers.
This new core identity, according to the researchers, may explain why 80% of the study participants stopped smoking for six months, and another 60% remained smoke-free for five years. Study author and University of Cincinnati postdoctoral researcher Neşe Devenot notes these findings demonstrate the potential psychedelics offer when it comes to reshaping self-perceptions and helping people break free of old habits or addictions.
“If you want to give up meat but you smell a delicious steak, it might be hard to resist,” said Devenot. “But if you identify as a vegetarian and your sense of who you are is someone who does not eat meat, that identity helps encourage a different choice.”