LSD alcoholism treatment

Discussion in 'Alcohol addiction' started by Paracelsus, Nov 2, 2006.

  1. Paracelsus

    Paracelsus Platinum Member & Advisor

    Reputation Points:
    Aug 31, 2006
    from U.S.A.
    Long-forgotten LSD treatment might aid alcoholics start a trip to recovery

    Sean McClure

    When most people hear the term LSD, ideas of little pieces of blotter paper soaked in mind-expanding liquid that offer users a new world of altered perception and oneness come to mind—not to mention jail time and parole.

    The illicit reputation of the drug may, however, hinder its potential as a powerful treatment to a serious addiction.

    Dr Erika Dyck, professor of the history of medicine at the University of Alberta, has been taking an historical look at the use of LSD as a treatment for alcoholism.

    “What the research was showing was that [alcoholism] was something psychological in nature,” Dyck said.

    Dyck explained that during the 1950s, researchers in Saskatchewan were treating alcoholism with the drug known scientifically as d-lysergic acid diethylamide. The researchers originally made the connection between the effects of LSD and alcoholism withdrawal by examining what are known as delirium tremens. Delirium tremens are acute psychotic states caused by withdrawal from heavy drinking resulting in confusion, tremors and hallucinations—something quite similar to the effects of taking LSD.

    Since these tremens seem to mark a turning point in the disease, the researchers were interested in seeing if LSD could offer a therapeutic start to a recovering alcoholic.

    The researcher’s results showed significant rates of recovery and helped strengthen the idea that alcoholism should be characterized as a disease.

    Although the approach gained support from the provincial government, local chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Bureau of alcoholism, negative media attention of LSD as a harmful recreational drug curtailed further clinical trials.

    However, in an article published in the journal Social History of Medicine, Dyck recently showed that there may be good reasons to re-examine these experiments. She hopes that closer examination will lead to a fuller understanding of alcoholism, especially the emotional aspect of the addiction.

    The past experiments would take place in a private room during which a nurse and/or psychiatrist would continually offer positive reinforcement while the drug took effect. The following day, subjects were encouraged to compose a written description of their experience allowing the researchers to keep records.

    Conventional treatment programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), include support systems that deal with the social aspects of why a person may be drinking.

    “These support systems are actually closely related to the idea of using LSD as a treatment,” said Dyck.

    In fact, according to Dyck, LSD therapy may offer a better option for certain individuals.

    “For some people, going to AA once a week represents a clash of environments,” Dyck said. “Psychedelic therapy offers a more comfortable surrounding where withdrawn individuals can feel at ease.”

    Another similarity between LSD treatments and AA is the idea of a higher power. Step number two in AA reinforces the belief that a power greater than the patient is needed to restore self-control. Interestingly, LSD users often say that the experience generates a sense of spirituality. The treatment, according to Dyck, thus addresses the spiritual aspect of therapy, something that is left out of many medical models.

    Since the treatment consists of a one-time dose, the risk of chemical dependence or flashbacks appears to be negligible.

    “The studies showed that only a minority of the patients showed anything remotely close to overly negative effects from the LSD,” Dyck explained.

    Acting as a chemical analog to group therapy, LSD may allow otherwise desperate individuals to re-examine themselves both spiritually and emotionally; something that many feel is essential to successfully overcoming alcoholism.

    Regardless of whether or not the LSD treatment, or similar methods, will ever be used again, Dyck believes that a re-examination of the experiments done in the ’50s should be done, and hopes that it would reveal a great deal more about the disease than we know now.

    [The idea of rediscovering old-fashioned psychedelic therapy sounds GREAT! Although it is most likely to not be accepted by governments.]
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2006
  2. Bajeda

    Bajeda Super Moderator Platinum Member & Advisor

    Reputation Points:
    Jul 13, 2006
    from U.S.A.
    The Globe and Mail
    Editorial, October 16, 2006 The LSD Treatment
    A new study that looks back at LSD research conducted by a team of scientists in Canada more than four decades ago demonstrates the degree to which anti-psychedelic hysteria derailed promising scientific research for the treatment of alcoholism.
    The original work, led by British psychiatrist Humphry Osmond at a hospital in Saskatchewan, was one of the stranger chapters in Canadian scientific investigation. Dr. Osmond, who invented the term "psychedelic" and famously assisted the writer Aldous Huxley in experimenting with drugs, had observed that alcoholics would stop drinking if they suffered delirium tremens during withdrawal. He believed that LSD, in a single dose, could simulate such symptoms and have the same beneficial results.
    That is precisely what happened when he tested his theory. In one study, half of all subjects who took LSD either stopped drinking entirely or reduced their alcohol dependency. The results from a control group were not nearly as good: "As a general rule . . . those who have not hadthe transcendental experience are not changed; they continue to drink." Despite these promising findings, and the fact the research was supported by the Saskatchewan and federal governments, the explosion of illicit use of LSD among the counterculture of the 1960s and fears fanned by authorities resulted in the outlaw of even scientific and clinical uses for the drug.
    Erika Dyck, a professor of the history of medicine at the University of Alberta, has produced a new study about the research in the journal Social History of Medicine. Dr. Dyck tracked down and interviewed some of the original patients treated with LSD and found that many had never touched alcohol again and, even 40 years on, spoke highly of the treatment. "I was surprised at how loyal they were to the doctors who treated them, and how powerful they said the experience was for them -- some even felt the experience saved their lives," said Dr. Dyck, who added that the drug has intriguing properties that should be explored further.
    It may be that the crackdown should never have been applied to scientific research, but it is also the case that psychedelics do pose a potential hazard when taken casually or abused. Consequently, it is unlikely there will be a change in drug laws in this country any time soon. Still, it is interesting to consider that, had the Saskatchewan research continued, LSD use might have had a very different connotation and produced a different twist to an old adage: Tune in, turn on, sober up.