An analysis of six scientifically sound studies on LSD and alcoholism concluded that a single dose of LSD, provided for treatment purposes, helped heavy alcoholics and made it less likely that they would relapse.The research, which is being published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, combined data from studies conducted either in the U.S. or Canada between 1966 and 1970. The subjects, nearly all men, were admitted to treatment for alcoholism or voluntarily participated.
In each study patients were given the same treatment program. But on one treatment day some patients received a single large dose of LSD while others received a low dose of LSD, a stimulant drug or nothing.
Neither patients nor the individuals treating them knew in advance who would get a full dose of LSD.
In some of the studies patients talked with a therapist during the duration of the drug effects while in others patients received reassurance only if they asked. Participants in all of the studies were encouraged to reflect on their alcohol problem.
Follow-up examinations in all of the studies showed that the patients who had received a full dose of LSD fared the best— on average, 59 per cent of full-dose patients showed a clear improvement compared with 38 per cent in the other groups.
The LSD patients were less likely to relapse into problematic alcohol use and had higher levels of total abstinence. They also reported greater self-acceptance and openness, as well as greater faith in their ability to deal with future problems.
The researchers, Teri Krebs and Pal-Orjan Johansen, said that they could safely conclude that a single dose of LSD had a positive treatment effect that lasted at least six months after combining studies that had sound methodology.
The study recommends that, given the prolonged success of the treatment, it is time to look at the use of psychedelics in treating addiction and other conditions.
“It is unusual for psychiatric drugs to have an effect that lasts for several months after a single dose. We now better understand that alcoholism is a chronic, relapsing disorder that typically requires ongoing treatment. The next step should be to periodically provide additional doses of LSD in combination with modern evidence-based treatment programs,” the researchers conclude.
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