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Medicine Science

LSD Can Treat Alcoholism 346

Posted by Soulskill
from the effectively-useless-information dept.
ananyo writes "LSD has potential as a treatment for alcoholism, according to a comprehensive retrospective analysis of studies published in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The researchers sifted through thousands of records to collect data from randomized, double-blind trials that compared one dose of LSD to a placebo. Of 536 participants in six trials, 59% of people receiving LSD reported lower levels of alcohol misuse (PDF), compared to 38% of people who received a placebo. The study adds to the weight of evidence that hallucinogenic drugs may have important medical uses, including, for example, the alleviation of cluster headaches."
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LSD Can Treat Alcoholism

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  • Go figure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:52PM (#39304455) Journal

    Yet another Schedule 1 drug with actual medical applications. Is there any part of the war on drug users that isn't based on lies?

    • Re:Go figure (Score:5, Informative)

      by six025 (714064) on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:05PM (#39304693)

      Is there any part of the war on drug users that isn't based on lies?

      No!

    • Re:Go figure (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:11PM (#39304779) Homepage

      Not just lies but misinformation. I mean, LSD is often a far more exotic of a drug to the people who haven't done it than have. It isn't habbit forming. In fact, after a trip, I often said that if someone put more acid in front of me and suggested I do it again, I might punch them. At its best its long and draining, physically and emotionally. Do some people go crazy and do it every day? Sure, but they are hardly the norm.

      Don't get me wrong, I saw some people have some difficult times, and see things that sounded far more amazing than anything I ever saw. And I have seen it change lives.

      I had a friend who had a few very difficult experiences. He was a bit religious, and talked of seeing deamons around him and being convinced he was going to die. Took him a long time to get over that. Though, it also was the catalyst that changed his life, to become a better person, to get off the myriad of drugs he was using and get a career instead of going into his 20s as a petty crook on his way to jail.

      So do I think it can cure alcoholism? No. I think its a tool that could be used to gain perspective and insight and to become invested in change. That may very well be what enables a person to change... however, I don't think its a magic switch... and it might be a difficult ride.

      Actually LSD has been used in this manner, I highly recomend "LSD Psychotherapy" by Stanislav Groff. Excellent book on the subject, where clinics have been run outside the US for many years. However, its not just "LSD does the work", it is the entire therapy session surrounding it that guides it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by msobkow (48369)

        A psychiatrist actually talk to patients in North America in this day and age?

        Oops.

        Sorry.

        Time's up.

        Next patient, please!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      its based on lies, racism and religion.

      ie, all the bad things about mankind.

  • Makes sense (Score:5, Funny)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:52PM (#39304459) Journal

    They'll stop the first time they see their booze bottles as screaming fanged monsters.

    • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:03PM (#39304651)

      It's funny, but this was actually the original intent of the original 1950s studies. However, the study participants often enjoyed the LSD experience and were able to talk coherently and honestly with researchers about why they drank and why they wanted to stop. The sessions evolved into a kind of guided meditation, and eventually showed a success rate of about 45-50%. Compare this to the second most effective treatment for alcoholism - AA - which boasts a success rate of 10-12%.

      Hallucinogens can be powerful tools, and I'm glad we're starting to explore them more thoroughly.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Naltrexone + drinking is even more effective.

    • by cjb658 (1235986) on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:17PM (#39304869) Journal

      My name is Bob and I'm an LSD addict - formerly an alcoholic.

  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:54PM (#39304487)
    The study also found a 47% increase in believing they could fly and 39% increase in the belief that they were covered in spiders over that of the placebo group.
    • What about the guy who thought he was an orange and peeled himself?

      • by Nidi62 (1525137)
        He wasnt included in the results because unfortunately he did not finish the study, for obvious reasons
    • by teasea (11940)

      The study also found a 47% increase in believing they could fly and 39% increase in the belief that they were covered in spiders over that of the placebo group.

      The study included Really bad cop shows from the 70s?

    • by jamstar7 (694492)

      The study also found a 47% increase in believing they could fly

      They stopped believing in the TSA?

  • by Art3x (973401) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:54PM (#39304493)
    "I know an old lady who swallowed a fly . . . "
    • I get the feeling that this story ends with "When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death."
  • Placebo? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:56PM (#39304523)

    Placebo? Really? What possible placebo can you give somebody that they won't figure out it wasn't LSD?

    • Re:Placebo? (Score:4, Funny)

      by medv4380 (1604309) on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:20PM (#39304925)
      Toad Sweat
    • Not exactly a placebo (totally inert) but you could test it against the many other psychotropic drugs.

    • by Beerdood (1451859)
      Perhaps they're told they're given something to help with their alcoholism, and the red pill they're given does nothing. Would that be sufficient science for a double blind trial? Correct me if I'm wrong here, but maybe that's sufficient here for an analysis. The people taking the placebo only need to be told that they're being given some medication that will help with their alcoholism (or given some story to basically account for the placebo effect).

      The other alternative I could see is that they're
    • What possible placebo can you give somebody that they won't figure out it wasn't LSD?

      A sugar pill, the same as always. Given a sugar pill and told that it's a new experimental drug that may cure their problem, a significant portion of people will either be cured or report being cured. It's a large percentage for diseases with a significant psychological component like alcoholism. A significant percentage will also report a wide range of side effects, regardless of the nature of the disease.

      You also don't tell either the LSD or the sugar group that they're receiving LSD. You just tell BO

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:57PM (#39304537)

    In other news, cocaine addiction has been shown to lower marijuana abuse.

  • by Nyder (754090) on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:04PM (#39304663) Journal

    Man, those were the good old days, when acid was plentiful (the 80's). I really miss taking acid. They said I'd get flashbacks when I got older, which I am still waiting for. I mean, free acid trips? I'm down. Except they aren't happening.

    I want some mother loving acid, LSD, shit, i'll even eat the brown acid from woodstock. Prefer liquid, but I'll take blotter, 4 way, gels, whatever you got.

    Tune in, Turn on, Drop out.

    One of my best trips was when I took some liquid acid, 2 drops, and 20 mins later, i'm watching these crab aliens rip up my ceiling, while blood was dripping down the wall. Not only was I not scared, I was loving it. I don't lose reality on acid, and this was by far the best show ever. I kept thinking my roommate wanted to sleep with (like I really want to have sex on acid, not!), she thought I was the devil, and we were really fucked up.

    I would love to take acid again, but I have no idea where to get it. Guess I can go find some hippies somewhere...

    While acid isn't for everyone, 'cause some of you are crazy upstairs, most everyone should take it. It opens your mind to other ways of thinking, and honestly, most the world needs to open their minds and wake the fuck up.

  • meh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by forgottenusername (1495209) on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:05PM (#39304681)

    A strong dose of LSD removes any underpinnings with reality. There's no way to prepare for it. For some people it's a good, useful thing which helps them gain a different perspective and form new thought patterns or approach problems in a different way. For others its a hellish experience that causes permanent damage to their psyche. Psychoactive drugs can trigger latent personality disorders. I know this from personal experience.

    Think of LSD as a focuser; if you're prone to anxiety, you're likely to have an extremely hard time, especially if you're in an sterile lab environment (your ambient environment makes a huge difference to your experience, along with the people you are around).

    Anyhow, I have a hard time trusting that study for much. I can see psychoactive drugs having lots of benefits, but a lot of risks too. It's hard to picture someone suffering from alcoholism (which encourages denialism, depression etc) really getting much positive benefit.

    • Re:meh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by brainzach (2032950) on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:14PM (#39304823)

      Why would they have to do the experiment in a sterile lab environment?

      You can minimize the chances of a bad trip by conducting the test in a more comfortable environment and have a counselor guide the patient through the experience. It will probably be much more positive and effective treatment than giving a guy a lot of acid and locking him in the room for 12 hours.

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Why would they have to do the experiment in a sterile lab environment?

        You can minimize the chances of a bad trip by conducting the test in a more comfortable environment and have a counselor guide the patient through the experience. It will probably be much more positive and effective treatment than giving a guy a lot of acid and locking him in the room for 12 hours.

        But not as much fun to watch.

      • That's a good point.

        There's been a whole lot of good research done on the mechanisms of addiction, how brain chemistry is changed.. a lot of data suggests (common sense) that if you change your environment, it's easier to break patterns. Charle Rose had a really good series on the brain where this was discussed..

        I _think_ this one is it: http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/10974 [charlierose.com] - the whole series is great though.

        It'd be really interesting if they used some modern techniques to figure out what was goi

        • The conclusion that a change of environment is often crucial to let someone stay sober, wasn't discovered through studies of neurobiology.

      • You can minimize the chances of a bad trip by conducting the test in a more comfortable environment and have a counselor guide the patient through the experience.

        Yeah, that way you can also minimize (or more like obliterate) what little there is of blinding.

  • How is this news? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dmt0 (1295725) on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:08PM (#39304733)
    Some studies in the 1950s that used LSD to treat alcoholism professed a 50% success rate,[29] five times higher than estimates near 10% for Alcoholics Anonymous.[30] A 1998 review was inconclusive.[31]

    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Lysergic_acid_diethylamide#Alcoholism [wikimedia.org]
    • Yes this is old news, but I am glad it is finally getting reported, even if it is 50 years late. Alcholism does serious damage in society and the failure to use this technique is just another example of the horrific damage done by prohibition.

      It should also be noted that this technique involved a certain type of therapy which is done while under the influence of the psychedelic, and part of the reason for the original suppression of these results was that anti-drug scientists who wanted to discredit the
    • by ananyo (2519492)

      Some studies in the 1950s that used LSD to treat alcoholism professed a 50% success rate,[29] five times higher than estimates near 10% for Alcoholics Anonymous.[30] A 1998 review was inconclusive.[31]

      https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Lysergic_acid_diethylamide#Alcoholism [wikimedia.org]

      Because it's a meta-analysis - like the story says. Each of the trials that wikipedia mentions is underpowered by itself - the results are not strongly significant even when they did show 'an effect'. The reason was they were often unable to recruit enough people for the trial. There were also trials that showed little effect (and as the review you quote says - the overall evidence was 'inconclusive'). This is the most comprehensive analysis to date of exactly those past studies - and the picture is more co

  • by stox (131684) on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:10PM (#39304769) Homepage

    Sadly, further research was abandoned due to the difficulties of getting permission from the government.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:10PM (#39304773)

    Posting as AC because I don't have an account. I took LSD this very last Saturday, and I can honestly say that having looked at myself and alcohol and what I realize it's been doing to me, I haven't touched it since or had a single craving. I mean, I'm not an alcoholic, I just drink a 6-pack of tall boys every night for a year, right? It was like turning a switch on and off. I dunno, I'm a reasonably happy person, so I think that it's easier for me to say all of this. "Treatment" for addiction (ANY addiction - even sugar) very rarely focuses on the actual underlying cause of the addiction. Yes, some people just like to party. But LSD has a way of making you look inward at yourself....

  • Q: How do you get rid of onion breath?
    A: Eat some garlic.

  • In related news, Pot is found to successfully treat some eating disorders, and Heroin is found to be helpful treating rebound headaches.

  • But it's certainly not recommended except for the morbidly obese (in which case the doses are very small compared to what an addict would use and the dispension is tightly controlled).

  • by medv4380 (1604309) on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:28PM (#39305061)
    About the Time the CIA was doing "tests" to see if it would work as a truth serum. I would bet that the study was probably just a cover to test LSD on people. Even if LSD worked the drawback of Flashbacks or Persistent Hallucinations would make it unusable. Now if LSD were the cure for cancer then persistent hallucinations would be acceptable.
  • Demonstrably so. Well proven to be less addictive than no-doz and lollipops. All whose comments or arguments cite LSD addiction get a zero on this subject and should do a bit of further reading.

    (Funny you should ask. Why no, I am not promoting the use of LSD.)

  • Why does this remind me of the Simpson's episode where they use lizards to kill pigeons, then snakes to kill the lizards, then gorillas to kill the snakes?

    "We've cured his alcoholism with LSD."
    "Yes, but now he's hooked on LSD."
    "No problem. We can cure that with some cocaine."
    "But then won't he be addicted to cocaine?"
    "That's when we introduce him to crystal meth..."

  • put LSD in beer. or legalize it for sale at bars. brilliant. give me a nobel prize.
  • The folks making LSD in the 1980s that I knew were all hippy communes. No marijuana drug wars in Mexico, no Columbia cocaine wars, no Al Capone St. Valentines Day massacres. Perhaps the utility of a psychotropic drug should be measured by how peaceful its distribution system is while it's illegal. I'd tend to let LSD off for good behavior, obviously nobody is hooked on it enough to want to kill other people or pay other people so much that they are willing to kill people.
  • Ibogaine. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Xoltri (1052470) on Friday March 09, 2012 @05:03PM (#39305537)
    I watched a really interesting show called Drugs Inc. The talked about one psychadelic drug called Ibogaine that can be used to cure opiate addiction. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibogaine#Treatment_for_opioid_addiction [wikipedia.org]

    The show is worth watching for sure.
  • by Colourspace (563895) on Friday March 09, 2012 @05:36PM (#39306041)
    Sorry - new build machine, didn't mean to AC... In this order I have become addicted to the following on a pretty much full time basis: Tobacco, Alcohol and the 60mg Prozac I have to take a day to deal with life. Before anyone comments on the Prozac/Drugs cycle - I've suffered depression forever, long before I tried anything I 'shouldn't have'.. But I have no regrets on the whole - but weirdly alcohol takes responsibility for 99.9% of those regrets I truly do. Yes less drugs over the years may well have made a difference, but too late to know for sure now. Putting that aside.. E? Can't really handle the stuff. Love it, but I've embarrassed myself on more than one occasion as more than one or at most two pills is too much for me. I end up trying to tell peoples ankles how much I love them. Tried Ketamine a couple of years ago. I suspect I did too much at the time (it being my first and all) but I won't give that a second chance. 'Being in the closet talking to God' is the most accurate description I've heard of anything, ever. Cocaine? Had a bit of a fling with it around 2005-2006, but got over that. Just in time, I think. Still like the odd nosebleed but always end up with a porn bill. Could smoke pot for the UK Olympic team, but then I don't smoke skunk anymore. LSD? Never had a bad trip personally and I swear it has unlocked parts of my mind that would never have been accessible otherwise. I genuinely feel a more rounded person for the times I've taken it (maybe 15 times over the past 23 years?) I drink and smoke every day. Now tell me what is the most damaging drug? I wake up every day hacking my lungs up due to 'light' cigarrettes, ans surely at 20 a day I'd hardly be considered heavy, even by today's standards. Having said that, it's always horses for courses. If it wasn't, Slashdot probably would have burnt itself out through too much agreement a long time ago. I find it hard to get LSD nowadays but I would trip for the next week if it meant giving up the crap I currently find myself spending too much on and really actually damaging my health with.

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