Psychedelic Therapy and Alcoholism

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Psychedelic Therapy and Alcoholism

Psychedelic therapy uses serotonergic (5-HT) psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin, DMT, and 2C-B to assist with a non directive psychotherapy. This allows the patient to explore their psyche, all the while psychotherapy is occurring to help integrate the patient with the experience. [1] A patient on LSD may perceive family members distorted onto the psychiatrist being. This is called “perceptualizing the transference.” [2] The psychedelic scientific community is experiencing a resurgence in psychedelic therapy research which has been showing that psychedelics have treated PTSD, Depression, OCD, and Alcoholism. [3] In the 15 years that LSD was legal, beginning in the 1950s, over 1000 peer -reviewed clinical papers were published and approximately 40,000 patients were administered psychedelic therapy. [4] It is documented that the psychedelic drugs, coupled with psycho analysis was useful for patients suffering from alcoholism. [4]

Recovery- an alcoholic’s story & the reemergence of psychedelic medicine | Robert Rhatigan | TEDxABQ

Humphrey Osmond and others examined the usefulness of treating alcoholism with psychedelic therapy and concluded that the likelihood is neither proven nor disproven. [5] After a single high dose session, 50% alcoholics were treated but the studies control’s were insufficient as there were no objective measuring stick of actual change. [6] Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous used LSD to spear head medically supervised experiments on alcoholics in 1950s. He is quoted in saying, “It is a generally acknowledged fact in spiritual development that ego reduction makes the influx of God’s grace possible. If, therefore, under LSD we can have a temporary reduction, so that we can better see what we are and where we are going — well, that might be of some help. The goal might become clearer. So I consider LSD to be of some value to some people, and practically no damage to anyone.” [5] LSD was proving to be a potential tool to treat alcoholism in well supervised clinical settings.

Artist: James McCarthy-Halloween

Artist: James McCarthy-Halloween

Two years ago Teri Kreb and Pål-Ørjan Johansen who were from the department of Neuroscience at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology noticed a gap in the understanding of LSD’s potential benefit for treating alcoholism. [6] What the researches noticed was that a quantitative meta-analysis was never conducted on the previous LSD-Alcoholism clinical trials. They collected data, that resulted in 6 trials from the 60s and early 70s, that included 536 participants, most of whom were already enrolled in alcohol based treatment programs and excluded people who had a history of psychosis or schizophrenia. [6] Experiments varied in dosage but LSD had a beneficial effect on alcohol misuse as 59% of LSD patients and 38% of control patients improved during their follow up which used a standardized assessment of alcohol misuse. A single LSD dose’s positive effects last at least 6 months and faces at 12 months. The lasting effects of the LSD experience in alcoholics, was noted by one of the trials investigators: “It was rather common for patients to claim significant insights into their problems, to feel they are given a new lease on life, and to make a strong resolution to discontinue their drinking.” And investigators of another trial noted, “It was not unusual for patients following their LSD experiences 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.” [6]

As LSD interacts with the 5-HT(2A) receptors in the brain, new connections are stimulated which open the m ind for new perspectives. Kerb notes that LSD has striking effects on imagination, perception, and memories and can elicit periods of intense anxiety and confusion”. Johansen continues, “Given the evidence for a beneficial effect of LSD on alcoholism, it is puzzling why this treatment approach has been largely overlooked”. [6] When pooled together, these trials show promising results and it is unusual for psychiatric medication to have such a long lasting positive effect in a single dose. They note that repeated doses of LSD, coupled with modern, evidence-based alcohol relapse prevention treatments could provide more sustained results. Moving forward with alcoholism treatment, plant based psychedelics such as ayahuasca must be investigated further as it promotes mental health and sustained sobriety.

References

  1. “A Manual for MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder”. Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. 4 January 2013.
  2. Baker, E. F. W. (December 5, 1964). “The Use of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) in Psychotherapy”. Canad. Med. Ass. J, vol. 91. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  3. Shamanic Guidelines for Psychedelic Medicine” by Michael Winkelman, IN Winkelman, Michael, and Roberts, Thomas B. (editors) (2007) Psychedelic Medicine: New Evidence for Hallucinogens as Treatments 2 Vols. Westport, CT: Praeger/Greenwood.
  4. Dyck E (June 2005). “Flashback: psychiatric experimentation with LSD in historical perspective”. Can J Psychiatry 50 (7): 381–8.
  5. Mangini M (1998). “Treatment of alcoholism using psychedelic drugs: a review of the program of research”. J Psychoactive Drugs 30 (4): 381–418. Smart RG, Storm T (March 1964). “The Efficacy of LSD in the Treatment of Alcoholism” (PDF). Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol 25: 333.
  6. Teri S. Krebs and Pål-Ørjan Johansen. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) for alcoholism: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 9 March 2012
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About The Author
Amir Pouya
I'm the Founder, Designer and Developer of SpiritMolecule.com. I have a love and interest for the history and chemistry of visionary plants and their interaction with humankind. I believe these plants and their effects to not be Hallucinations, but another form of reality we are yet to fully understand. The reason for this website is to gather as much information as possible to eventually be able to put together some sort of explanation as to What these plants are, Why they exists and How they have these extraordinary effects on Human Consciousness.