They say that just like any other form of addiction, there is no single cure for alcoholism. Hence, a recent retrospective analysis shows hallucinogenic drugs helped problem drinkers. Learn more about this finding and see how it can help deal with alcohol abuse.
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a psychedelic drug and hallucinogen. This means that its primary action is to alter how people think and perceive. LSD is an illegal substance in most countries because of the risk of abuse and negative side effects. During the 1960s it became popular as a recreational drug.
It is strongly associated with the hippy culture of that era because people believed consuming the drug opened their mind to higher truths. One of the most famous proponents of the drug was Timothy Leary who famously suggested that people, turn on, tune in, and drop out. Because of rising public concern about the use of this drug recreationally it was made illegal in the US in 1968.
An analysis of old studies suggests LSD may have a role to play in treating alcoholism. The said powerful hallucinogen LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) has potential as a treatment for alcoholism, according to a retrospective analysis of studies published in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
One dose of the hallucinogenic drug LSD could help alcoholics give up drinking, according to an analysis of studies performed in the 1960s.
Alcohol Abuse Defined
Alcohol abuse is the source of a great deal of suffering in society. Most individuals who drink alcohol sensibly do not suffer as a result, but those who become heavy users can do damage to their physical and mental health. If people become addicted to this substance it can completely take over their life and lead to great misery – not only for them but also for their families.
There are currently many treatment options available for people who hope to escape this type of substance abuse but none of these are yet to prove fully effective for every alcohol abuse.
It seems that there is no one size fits all approach to this type of substance abuse – at least not at the moment anyway. Instead of different treatments are available to choose from. In recent months there has been some media attention given to the possibility of using LSD for the treatment of alcoholism.
What Researches Say about This
A study, presented in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, looked at data from six trials and more than 500 patients. It said there was a “significant beneficial effect” on alcohol abuse, which lasted several months after the drug was taken.
An expert said this was “as good as anything we’ve got”. LSD is a class-A drug in the UK and is one of the most powerful hallucinogens ever identified. It changes the way serotonin – which affects perception, behavior, hunger, and mood – everything that works in the brain.
Psychedelics were promoted by psychiatrists in the 1950s as having a range of medical uses — to treat conditions such as schizophrenia, for example — before political pressures in the U.S. and elsewhere largely ended the work.
According to reports, alcoholism was considered one of the most promising clinical applications for LSD. Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson is said to have espoused the benefits of LSD in the book, Pass It On: The Story of Bill Wilson and How the AA Message Reached the World.
In the last decade or so, however, a new generation of researchers have been interested in harnessing the therapeutic benefits of illicit drugs — such as 3 and 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ecstasy) for post-traumatic stress disorder, ayahuasca for drug and alcohol dependency, and psilocybin, the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms for smoking cessation.
Separate Inquiry Supports Previous Findings
Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology analyzed earlier studies on the drug between 1966 and 1970. Patients were all taking part in alcohol treatment programs, but some were given a single dose of LSD of between 210 and 800 micrograms.
For the group of patients taking LSD, 59% showed reduced levels of alcohol misuse compared with 38% in the other group. This effect was maintained six months after taking the hallucinogen, but it disappeared after a year. Those taking LSD also reported higher levels of abstinence.
The report’s authors, Teri Krebs and Pal-Orjan Johansen, said that “A single dose of LSD has a significant beneficial effect on alcohol misuse.” They suggested that more regular doses might lead to a sustained benefit.
“Given the evidence for a beneficial effect of LSD on alcoholism, it is puzzling why this treatment approach has been largely overlooked,” they added.
Prof. David Nutt, who was sacked as the UK government’s drugs adviser, has previously called for the laws around illegal drugs to be relaxed to enable more research.
He even added that “Curing alcohol dependency requires huge changes in the way you see yourself. That’s what LSD does. This is probably as good as anything we’ve got [for treating alcoholism].“