Gee, was Bill right all along? Picked this up from Time magazine's web site. It's not the complete article, but the rest is drivel about mushrooms and heroin. Just think, we can now tune in, turn on and drop out. Or something like that.
The psychedelic drug LSD can help people with alcoholism quit or cut back their drinking, according to a new analysis of data originally collected in the 1960s. The study adds to a renaissance of research interest in mind-expanding medications for psychiatric disorders.
Norwegian scientists conducted a meta-analysis, combining the results of six randomized trials that tested the effect of a single dose of LSD for alcoholism in 536 adults. Researchers 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.
Earlier conclusions from the literature have suggested that LSD was not effective for alcoholism, but those results appear to e related to the fact that individual studies on the subject did not include enough participants to demonstrate significant differences between the groups.
“LSD had a significant beneficial effect on alcohol misuse at the first reported follow-up assessment,” write the authors of the new paper, published in the Journal of
Psychopharmacology. “The effectiveness of a single dose of LSD compares well with the effectiveness of daily naltrexone [reVia, Vivitrol] acamprosate [Campral], or disulfiram [Antabuse].” Those are the drugs currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat alcoholism.
The study found that the differences between LSD and control groups were statistically significant from two months to six months after treatment, but one year later, there was no longer a measurable improvement in those who had taken LSD. But given the persistence of alcoholism, it is perhaps more surprising that the effects of one dose of LSD lasted up to six months than it is that it would “wear off” a year later.
The treatment of alcoholism using LSD is not as unconventional as it may appear to the unitiated. In fact, AA co-founder Bill Wilson was an early advocate of acid treatment for alcohol abuse; unlike some of his followers, Wilson never believed that AA was the only way to deal with alcoholism. He took LSD himself, finding that the mind-expanding substance facilitated a similar spiritual state to the one that had helped him stop drinking in the first place. In his official AA biography, Pass It On, he’s quoted as saying:
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.
Similarly, the rationale for the treatment regimen used in some of the early LSD trials was that the powerful drug would “break down” alcoholics’ egos and thereby create a spiritual awakening. This was not supposed to be a fun or mellow trip.
For example, in one of the trials included in the current analysis, the patients were actually strapped to their beds within a therapeutic community, a setting that typically involves extensive confrontation and humiliation aimed at revising their personalities. Research now shows, rather unsurprisingly, that trying to annihilate people emotionally is dangerous and can lead to long-term damage, even when it’s done without a powerful hallucinogen. Previous studies on LSD suggest that researchers may have underestimated the drug’s potential by using it as part of a counterproductive therapeutic strategy.