Study: Can LSD Treat Alcoholism?

New research confirms what many psychedelic scientists already knew: LSD helps treat addiction, and in this case, alcoholism.

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology reviewed six old studies on 536 alcoholics, and found that an astounding 58 percent of alcoholics given one dose of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) showed clear benefits from the treatment. The LSD-treated patients were less likely to relapse (59% abstinent) than the control group (38%) and reported "greater self-acceptance and openness," that gave them a new understanding of their alcoholism, as well as the motivation to address it. 

Professor David Nutt, former drug adviser in the United Kingdom and an expert in psychedelic research, told the BBC why the treatment worked. 

"Curing alcohol dependency requires huge changes in the way you see yourself. That's what LSD does," he said. 

His statement echoes the supervisors of one trial in the study, who said, "It was rather common for patients to claim significant insights into their problems, to feel that they had been given a new lease on life, and to make a strong resolution to discontinue their drinking." 

According to the study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, just a single dose of LSD can reduce alcohol misuse for 6 to 12 months. Authors believe that multiple dosings could lead to langer-losting effects, and are troubled by the lack of research into a treatment that shows such promise.  

"Given the evidence for a beneficial effect of LSD on alcoholism, it is puzzling why this treatment approach has been largely overlooked," the study's  authors said.

Many experts in the psychedelic field attribute the strain on research to the knee-jerk reaction to criminalize these drugs, and the stigma that followed. For decades, the scheduling of psychedelic drugs has made asking the government to hand over these substances (for research) an action with unlikely reward. But psychedelic drugs have long been studied for treating addiction, and hallucinogens like psilocybin, Iowaska, and Ibogaine show great potential.

That being said, this latest research could have a huge impact on addiction treatment. As Professor Nutt told the BBC, "This is probably as good as anything we've got [for treating alcoholism]." More than 17 million Americans struggle with alcohol dependency, and treatment is often limited to 12-step programs known not only to exclude people based on religion and race, but also to hold some unrealistic expectations for participants. 

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at March 9, 2012, 4:27am

Today's Top Stories