Using LSD to Treat Alcoholism
Always looking for new and effective ways to treat alcoholism, researchers are exploring some interesting options. A new analysis of data is suggesting that the psychedelic drug LSD could be a tool to treat alcoholism.
The researchers analyzed data from the 1960s and found that LSD was indeed beneficial for recovering alcoholics. “A single dose of LSD had a significant beneficial effect on alcohol misuse at the first reported follow-up assessment, which ranged from 1 to 12 months after discharge from each treatment program,” the researchers wrote. (1)
The Norwegian scientists found that 59% of participants who took acid either dramatically cut back their drinking or quit, compared with 38% of controls, who either took a much smaller dose of acid or used another drinking-prevention treatment. Only eight cases of adverse effects or “bad trips” were reported, none of them lasting longer than the high itself. (2)
Open and Optimistic
Before people jump to conclusions that this kind of treatment is absurd, these researchers have made it clear that using the drug to treat alcoholism would be no fun acid trip. The benefit from LSD is that it breaks down egos and helps people bring emotions to the surface, to be more open and optimistic. Researchers say the drug helps patients “to become much more self-accepting, to show greater openness and accessibility, and to adopt a more positive, optimistic view of their capacities to face future problems.” (1)
When asked why LSD has not been explored as an option for alcoholism in the past, researchers point to the unstable history of LSD and its criticism over the years. Still, AA co-founder Bill Wilson was an advocate for LSD to treat alcoholism. “It is a generally acknowledged fact in spiritual development that ego reduction makes the influx of God’s grace possible. … I consider LSD to be of some value to some people, and practically no damage to anyone. It will never take the place of any of the existing means by which we can reduce the ego, and keep it reduced.” (2) Researchers today say, “Given the evidence for a beneficial effect of LSD on alcoholism, it is puzzling why this treatment approach has been largely overlooked.” (1)
Whether LSD helps give alcoholics an edge when it comes to beating their addiction or not, experts agree that a medication like LSD will not solve all of an alcholic’s problems. “There have been plenty of people who have been alcoholics who have taken LSD, and it has done nothing for their alcoholism,” Matthew Johnson, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins said. (3) It is still imperative to use therapy and support groups to get a person to turn their life around.
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