What to Know When Visiting Our Psilocybin Retreat with Alcohol Addiction
Eleusinia is an alcohol-free retreat. It is our policy that our guests refrain from ingesting additional substances during this experience. However, many of our guests are looking to make real and sustained changes in their habituated lifestyles with the help of psilocybin. If you are someone who has struggled with alcohol, we do support you in your decision to attend this retreat, however, we would like to help you create a plan to avoid being in a withdrawal state during your retreat experience.
We have prepared this article to support you in making informed decisions about working with psilocybin and alcohol whether your end goal is completely abstaining or changing your relationship with alcohol.
What Is The Research Saying?
There is promising research that points to the potential benefits of psilocybin-assisted therapy for those looking to quit alcohol for good. Numerous studies were conducted in the last decades on the potential of psilocybin-assisted treatment to improve drinking outcomes in patients with alcohol use disorder. In the most recent study published in August 2022 titled, “Percentage of Heavy Drinking Days Following Psilocybin-Assisted Psychotherapy vs Placebo in the Treatment of Adult Patients With Alcohol Use Disorder,” 93 individuals participated in a randomized clinical trial comparing psilocybin to a placebo (Michael P. Bogenschutz, MD; Stephen Ross, MD; Snehal Bhatt, MD; et al).
What the researchers found was significant.
What Did They Find?
In this double-blind, randomized clinical trial with 93 participants with alcohol use disorder, two groups received ongoing psychotherapy. One group has multiple doses of psilocybin in a controlled psychedelic-assisted therapy setting. The other group was given diphenhydramine (commonly known as Benadryl) for their sessions.
The group that took psilocybin had 41% fewer heavy drinking days during the 32 weeks of follow-up traced by the study as compared to the placebo group. The group who took psilocybin alongside psychotherapy was also significantly more likely to remain fully abstinent from alcohol consumption during the time period studied than the group that involved the placebo and psychotherapy.
The study was published online on August 24, 2022. You can read this study here: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2022.2096
10 Insights In Preparation For An Alcohol-Free Retreat Experience
1) Make A Plan
Having a clear game plan will be the best way to step forward into your retreat experience. What is your end goal? Dedicated sobriety or a different relationship with alcohol? Set up a meeting with the medical coordinator of your retreat to discuss your history of use and your plan to wean down. This is a space in which you are encouraged to be as honest as possible so we can offer you the best quality of support and meet your unique circumstances as best we can.
Note: We are not a rehab center, so much of your pre-planning will involve your capacity to spend 2-4 weeks substance free prior to your attendance at Eleusinia Retreat. Ideally your nervous system should be back to a baseline of relative calm to create the best chance of a wonderful experience.
2) Create A Support Team
Eleusinia was designed with ongoing support for all of our guests in mind. It often takes time, even when working with psilocybin, to sustain changes we hope to make in our lives. Once you have attended Eleusinia, you will have access to additional and ongoing monthly support experiences. This does not, however, mean that we take the place of your informed medical care team at home.
Having a homebase therapist and a supportive care team of qualified healthcare professionals at home will set you up for ongoing success.
3) Build Your Community
Eleusinia is a retreat that provides an ongoing sense of community in addition to ongoing integration, cultivation support, and mindfulness exercises even after returning home. However, maintaining sobriety and building new lifestyle habits depends on you feeling connected to a community that is accessible to you when you need it.
We encourage you to set up relationships with sober support groups prior to your retreat, so that you go home with this sense of community and structured support already in place. Nothing takes the place of having a friend or trusted contact to call in those challenging moments.
4) Prepare Your Homecoming
There is nothing quite like returning from a transformative experience to the comforts of home. We highly encourage you to take the time before leaving home to prepare for the easiest landing upon your return.
Set yourself up for success by emptying your fridge and cabinets of alcohol and replacing your stores with delicious alcohol-free drinks you can enjoy upon returning home. Clean your space. Change your sheets so you can feel at ease when preparing to rest after a long journey. Feeling tired and uncomfortable are triggers to revert back to old habits. Come home to rest and choose delicious preplanned alcohol-free drinks to support your transition back home.
5) Prepare For Easeful Travel
Airports and airplanes are huge triggers for individuals who drink regularly. Be prepared for the challenge. Have enjoyable distractions prepared for yourself like movies, music, and books downloaded and ready to enjoy. Stock up on snacks and alcohol-free beverages at the airport so you’re not lacking in glucose on the plane ride.
The liver gets accustomed to the rapid breakdown of glucose from alcohol, and so the physiological symptoms of cravings can be sharply reduced with the intake of simple sugars. This is not the time to be hard on yourself about craving sweets as your liver reaccustoms to an alcohol-free life.
6) Prepare For Sobriety With Mindfulness
Some people who are struggling with alcohol use disorder may be attached to the idea of having one powerful psychedelic experience that resets their brain to a state that may have existed prior to drinking. But this “one-and-done” experience is not a realistic approach. It often takes more than one dose to achieve the desired shifts and occasional doses to maintain them. But how can you know when or how often to dose to help support you on your sobriety journey?
At Eleusinia we teach an empowerment model of working with psychedelics. At the retreat, you will learn not only to navigate psychedelic experiences on your own but also how to cultivate mushrooms yourself for your ongoing treatment. Additionally, you will walk away with mindfulness tools to be able to tune into cues from your body, mind, and overall sense of well-being. These cues can translate into information as to when it might be a good time to re-dose. Incorporating mindfulness techniques into your life can also enhance your overall sense of well-being and support you in the process of sobriety.
7) Learn To Create A Sustainable Practice
Many people are able to give up alcohol for weeks at a time, only to hit an internal roadblock and turn back to the habit of alcohol consumption. Most often people journeying towards sobriety revert to alcohol to compensate for an inability to feel an internal sense of resilience or an embodied sense of wellbeing and ease with the process.
How do we fill what feels like holes or gaps without turning back to alcohol? How can we get to that place of feeling comfortable enough within ourselves to not need it? How can we meet our challenges with grace and ease, in an alcohol-free way?
This is where an informed and sustainable practice becomes necessary. Making big changes isn’t easy, but working with psilocybin can be a catalyst for change. Even after your psilocybin experiences at the retreat, it will take some forethought, dedication and grit to build a practice that can help you sustain the changes you’re hoping to make. You may start to incorporate things like breathwork, meditation, mindful journaling, committing to showing up with support groups on a regular basis, or dosing with psilocybin on a regular basis as part of your ongoing self-support in your evolution. We are also big believers that the most sustainable practices are ones fed by small actions.
8) Go With A Clear Personal Definition Of Sobriety
You may be wondering, “Can I consider myself sober if I’m using psychedelics on a regular basis to help heal my brain?” This is a very personal question that only you alone get to answer. The well-studied effects of psilocybin on the brain and body stand in stark contrast to those of alcohol and are well worth investigating. There are also support groups that do, in fact, support the use of psychedelics in recovery from alcohol use disorder.
There is also evidence to suggest that Bill W., the founder of AA, himself had meaningful, mystical, and insightful experiences with the help of psychedelics that helped him form AA and inform its processes in the first place.
9) Consider The Nature Of Decision-Making
Sobriety is a decision. And a big one at that. Emotions are often a significant component underlying the decisions we make. This is why even though sobriety might seem like a logical next step, it is more easily said than done and more challenging when first put into practice. Logic alone can’t sustain sobriety. Something within us has to shift.
Research is continuing to suggest that individuals who have a mystical experience, defined as a feeling of strong interconnectedness when taking psilocybin, have the longest lasting and most sustained benefits. Support groups like AA often also rely heavily on spiritual experiences to help individuals attain the insight about our lives needed to make the solid decision to make a change for good. And for many, having what you could define as a mystical or spiritual experience is difficult to attain without the aid of psychedelics.
Psilocybin has a unique ability to bring you to this place of connection, which has helped countless people process long-held emotions and re-construct long-held beliefs about themselves and the world. Profound and meaningful insights gained during and after psilocybin experiences can set a sturdy foundation for ongoing work of personal transformation.
At Eleusinia, we also prepare you to go on to be able to cultivate and navigate your continued work with psilocybin, increasing your chances of experiencing particularly mystical, meaningful and insightful sessions.
10) Decide To Journey Towards Lasting Change
Eleusinia was made for people looking to make lasting changes and boost their quality of life. If you are considering coming to Eleusinia to work towards sobriety, we are excited to be a part of supporting you in making this important shift.
Most of us have lived long lives of needing to put ourselves, our emotions, and our needs last. When you start your practice of working with psilocybin, you will likely find that it quickly turns into a daily practice of self-care and self-compassion. This practice is the art of making space for yourself, especially the parts that need the most support. Through this practice you will learn to get skillful at tending to your own needs in a profound and healing way.
A better quality of life is attainable if we can remember to have self-forgiveness, compassion, and trust as we forge new pathways of change in our lives. And it all starts with the decisions and promises you make to yourself.