While treating alcoholism with LSD is not a new concept, a recent meta-analysis confirms there is merit behind using the psychedelic as a form of therapy for the addicted.
Norwegian researchers examined six studies conducted in the United States and Canada between 1966 and 1970 in which LSD was used to help people overcome alcoholism. Analyzing data of 536 patients, scientists noted a single dose of LSD helped heavy alcoholics quit drinking and reduced their risk of relapsing.
"It was rather common for patients to claim significant insights into their problems, to feel that they had been given a new lease on life, and to make a strong resolution to discontinue their drinking," explained researchers in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, published by SAGE online on March 8.
Patients who received a full dose of LSD showed the most improvement. On average, 59 percent of those patients exhibited strong recovery, compared with 38 percent of patients in other groups, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology researchers said.
The hallucinogenic drug proved the most effective during the first few months of treatment; the beneficial results gradually decreased over time. "We do not yet fully know why LSD works this way," researchers Teri Krebs and Pal-Orjan Johansen said in a university news release, reported HealthDay News. "But we know that the substance is nontoxic and that it is not addictive. We also know that it has a striking effect on the imagination, perception and memories."
LSD triggers certain serotonin receptors in the brain, which may stimulate new connections, thus unlocking the mind and raising awareness of opportunities, Krebs explained in a SAGE press release.
"It was not unusual for patients following their LSD experience to become much more self-accepting, to show greater openness and accessibility, and to adopt a more positive, optimistic view of their capacities to face future problems," said investigators of another trial.