For smokers who found that nothing could help them kick the habit, once and for all, there may be one last option: hallucinogenic mushrooms. The link between mushrooms and nicotine withdrawal has been long observed, but recently a John Hopkins study suggested these claims may actually be backed by science.

In the controversial but completely legitimate study, 12 long-term smokers were asked to take a pill containing psilocybin, the active hallucinogenic ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” to aid in their smoking cessation, Bloomberg News reported. The volunteers, which included everyone from teachers to museum workers, were asked to take the drug in a laboratory set up to look like a living room and had their eyes closed while they listened to relaxing music for several hours. This was done to help avoid the occurrence of a “bad trip” that is so often associated with the drug. The “magic mushroom” therapy was repeated two or three times, depending on the volunteers’ preference.

Results were extremely promising. "The rates of quitting were so high, twice as high as what you typically see with the gold standard medication,” Matthew Johnson, a researcher involved in the study explained to Bloomberg News. Six months later, 12 of the 15 participants remained smoke-free. The researchers noted that those who experienced hallucinations or out-of-body experiences were most likely to successfully quit tobacco.

Quitting smoking is extremely difficult and, unfortunately, the current smoking cessation medications have disappointingly low success rates. For example, Chantix, perhaps the most famous of all these drugs, has a success rate of about 35 percent for six months. Nonprescription methods, such as patches and gum, are even less successful. According to Johnson, the results from this study are “an indication that something very strong is going on here,” and suggest that psilocybin’s nicotine quenching capabilities require further exploration.

Part of magic mushrooms’ popularity is the fact that they can be found quite easily growing in the wild, and for those without access to mushroom patches, they are relatively inexpensive. The drug affects an individual’s nervous system and causes the experience of “tripping.” Those who have experienced the effects of magic mushrooms report experiences such as seeing distorted colors and patterns, as well as having intensified emotions.

The drug, although illegal, is not considered to be dangerous. There is no documented evidence of anyone ever dying from magic mushroom consumption. In other countries, such as Mexico, where the drug has long-established historical roots, there are exceptions to the law for indigenous populations during religious ceremonies.

Source: Johnson MW, Garcia-Romeu A, Cosimano MP, Griffiths RR. Pilot study of the 5-HT2AR agonist psilocybin in the treatment of tobacco addiction. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2014.