LSD treatment for alcoholism gets new look
Sunday, October 8, 2006
Some participants still have not had a drink 40 years after the trials. For the past five years, Dr. Erika Dyck has been unearthing some intriguing facts related to a group of pioneering psychiatrists who worked in Saskatchewan, Canada in the '50s and '60s.
Among other things, the University of Alberta history of medicine professor has found records of the psychiatrists' research that indicate a single dose of the hallucinogenic drug LSD, provided in a clinical, nurturing environment, can be an effective treatment for alcoholism...
After perceiving similarities in the experiences of people on LSD and people going through delirium tremens, the psychiatrists undertook a series of experiments. They noted that delirium tremens, also know as DTs, often marked a "rock bottom" or turning point in the behavior of alcoholics, and they felt LSD may be able to trigger such a turnaround without engendering the painful physical effects associated with DTs.
"The LSD somehow gave these people experiences that psychologically took them outside of themselves and allowed them to see their own unhealthy behavior more objectively, and then determine to change it," said Dyck, who read the researchers' published and private papers and recently interviewed some of the patients involved in the original studies - many of whom had not had a sip of alcohol since their single LSD experience 40 years earlier...
"The LSD experience appeared to allow the patients to go through a spiritual journey that ultimately empowered them to heal themselves, and that's really quite an amazing therapy regimen," Dyck said...
In spite of the promise LSD showed as psychotherapy tool, its subsequent popularity as a street drug, and the perception of it as a threat to public safety, triggered a worldwide ban in the late 1960s - including its use in medical experiments. However, the ban on its use in medical experiments appears to be lifting, Dyck noted. A few groups of researchers in the U.S., including a team at Harvard, have recently been granted permission to conduct experiments with LSD.
"We accept all sorts of drugs, but I think LSD's 'street' popularity ultimately led to its demise," Dyck said.
See also: LSD — The Problem-Solving Psychedelic