High and Dry: Psychedelics for Alcohol Addiction

The article High and Dry: Psychedelics for Alcohol Addiction was originally published on Microdose.

To share your personal stories of psychedelic therapy, submit to our “Healing” section here or email us at jason@microdose.buzz



There are many contenders for world’s funniest drunk. There’s the guy who was dared to bite his own nose and spent the next hour on the floor screaming “It’s getting away!” Or there’s the guy who called a taxi to take him home because he didn’t want to drink and drive – except that the party was at his house.  — 

Alcohol brings out different things in different people. Sometimes it brings out different things in the same people. Many of us have a funny drunk story involving ourselves, family or friends. A good friend of mine woke up his mom late one night while peeing. We were out till the wee hours, clubbing and drinking beer. Our designated driver (probably me) deposited him safely at home. 

Drunk stories are mostly harmless fun. But there are others that are not funny at all. There’s nothing humorous about the intoxicated driver who kills someone, or the man drinks too much and abuses his wife and children. Alcohol addiction wreaks havoc on families, communities and society at large. Having briefly worked in a prosecutor’s office, I’ve seen first-hand alcohol’s destructive side. The vast majority of alcohol drinkers are responsible, but having one too many sometimes brings out the worst in people.

I was never a violent drunk. I suppose I was funny at times, in a juvenile way. I did my share of binge drinking with my buddies as a young man but I was tame compared to some others. When I matured, I cultivated what I thought was a healthy relationship with alcohol. After moving to Europe in my twenties, I developed a taste for red wine. Europeans have a different relationship with alcohol than North Americans. Binge drinking generally isn’t part of the culture, drunken British football hooligans notwithstanding. Drinking wine is a sign of sophistication. The Romans drank wine and found truth in it. In moderation, it’s said to be good for you. It aids in digestion, promotes heart health, and serves as a social lubricant. My parents were Croatian immigrants born and raised in the old country. Good wine was in my blood.


Beginning in my mid-twenties, I drank a glass or two of red wine every evening for about fifteen years. There’s no doubt it aided my digestive system. After a large meal, wine made me feel lighter. I became mellow, if a little sleepy. I’d often wind up on the couch, half awake and half asleep. It began with a glass an evening and over time became two. The standard recommendation for men is two glasses a day, so I thought nothing of it. I could feel the positive benefits in my body and there was science to back it up. Part of me wanted to drink more, but I knew the risks. Alcohol and cigarettes took my father at the age of forty-eight. I stuck to the two-glass limit. But, my desire to drink more subconsciously played out in other ways. I just purchased bigger wine glasses. 

You can guess what happened next. As the servings got bigger, so too did the unintended consequences. I didn’t become violent. I never physically abused a single person. I didn’t foolishly get into my car and injure someone. Most evenings, I wound up in the same place on the same couch. The wine continued to mellow me out. It worked so well, it mellowed me right out of my marriage. 


I never thought of myself as having an alcohol problem. I never sought treatment. Why would I? It wasn’t like I was a stumbling, incoherent buffoon. My career never suffered. Only my relationships did. But I only came to realize that years later.


I’ve always been an introvert, though my extroverted side has come out more in recent years. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with introversion – some brilliant minds and beautiful souls have been introverts, including Einstein, Rosa Parks, Gandhi and Tesla. Unfortunately, alcohol amplified my introversion. After a long day at work, my spouse wanted to talk, to share, to communicate. All I wanted to do was tune out. I never thought of myself as having an alcohol problem. I never sought treatment. Why would I? It wasn’t like I was a stumbling, incoherent buffoon. My career never suffered. Only my relationships did. But I only came to realize that years later.

There’s some really interesting research about psychedelics and addiction. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have conducted studies showing the efficacy of psilocybin mushrooms in treating alcohol addiction and helping long-time smokers kick the habit. Michael Pollan’s book highlighted how a lot of similar research in the 50s and 60s was kiboshed during the War on Drugs. The funny thing in my case is, I wasn’t even trying to quit. 

But then I had my first experience with magic mushrooms. And a few months later I just decided to quit. Cold turkey and out of the blue.

It’s been five years and I’ve had the odd drink since then, but I’ve largely abstained. After drinking every day for fifteen years, quitting was remarkably easy.

My revelation came one evening while, ironically, out drinking with some British footballing friends. We had just finished playing and hit a pub to partake in the time-honoured post-match tradition of throwing back a pint. Up to the point the beer arrived, I was jovial, friendly and fully engaged in the conversation. Within minutes of the alcohol entering my system, my mood shifted. I withdrew. I was still there, listening, but I was no longer as engaged. I retreated into myself, like so many times before. Except this time, I noticed. 

Later that evening in meditation, I played over the scene in my mind, asking myself why my demeanour changed. For the first time, it dawned on me that alcohol had a depressive effect. I was blind to it over many years, but the truth was undeniable. Alcohol had not served me nearly as well as I thought. My psychedelic experience opened my eyes to destructive subconscious behaviours and how and why I might change them. Over time, I evolved into a tea-drinking, yoga-practising, reggae-listening hippie. I don’t run around with flowers in my hair, but I live life on my own terms and try to be the best version of myself.

My friend still enjoys downing a pint or three. He’s a good father, successful, and a responsible member of society. We’re still good friends and I enjoy his company. In spite of my own experience, I would never impose my views or lifestyle on others. If you like to drink responsibly, that’s your business. As for me, I prefer being high and dry.


For more on the potential benefits of psychedelics for Alcohol Use Disorder, check out New n Study Shows Psilocybin Reduces Drinking in 83% of Patients and Awakn Announces Positive Results from Phase II Trial of Alcohol Use Disorder


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