LSD: High-Flying Cure for Alcoholism?

Norwegian neuroscientists propose an unlikely dose of sobriety.

Treatment professionals agree that responsible drinking is impossible for an individual afflicted with alcoholism or addiction. LSD may provide a way for sufferers to accept that view. (Photo: Darren Staples/Reuters)

Mar 9, 2012
Allan MacDonell is TakePart’s News + Opinion editor, with a focus on social justice.

A pair of Norwegian neuroscientists is suggesting that lysergic acid diethylamide, a drug commonly called LSD, might provide an antidote to alcoholism.

Writing in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, Teri Krebs and Pål-Ørjan Johansen of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology concluded, “We think it is time to look at the use of psychedelics in treating various conditions.”

The scientists didn’t spell out the various conditions they would consider treating with psychedelics, other than alcoholism.

These positive effects appear to have worn off after six months, which may be one justification for further research.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Drug Intelligence Center acknowledges that, “LSD, if consumed in a sufficiently large dose, produces delusions and visual hallucinations that distort the user's sense of time and identity.” The government, however, classifies the drug among controlled substances that “serve no legitimate medical purpose.”

As reported by Raw Story, the Scandinavian neural scientists cite psychiatric research from six different 1950s and 1960s studies that tested LSD in the treatment of chronic alcoholism. Test groups of patients were administered liberal doses of acid and encouraged to ponder their alcoholic dilemmas. Of the frying group, 59 percent showed a clear improvement in mental state and alcoholic intake as opposed to 38 percent of those who were left to ponder without the LSD.

These positive effects appear to have worn off after six months, which may be one justification for further research.

“We do not yet fully know why LSD works this way,” Krebs and Johansen admit, “[But] there has long been a need for better treatments for addiction.”

While waiting for that flashback prescription for sobriety to clear the Food and Drug Administration pipeline, anyone who thinks they might have a drinking problem should avail themselves of current resources and support organizations.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence provides information and links to help for addiction sufferers, family and friends. Its hotline for immediate assistance is 1-800-622-2255. Or you can enter your zip code on the NCADD site for local resources.

First Call Drug Dependency is a collection of informative resources, a sort of recovery central as the organization’s URL suggests, that aims to help individuals struggling with drug dependency, whether that drug is lysergic acid diethylamide, ethyl alcohol, or any combination these and other substances.

Alcoholics Anonymous is often viewed with trepidation by practicing alcoholics and addicts due to the organization’s “spirituality based” recovery system. However, most practitioners in the so-called recovery industry tend to include AA attendance and eventual membership as an essential of their treatment.

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