Early Experiments With LSD: Treating Alcoholism With LSD Was A Proven Success
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), also known as acid, is a psychedelic drug known for its psychological effects. Currently, it is illegal in the United States, and the DEA has categorized it as a Schedule I Drug, meaning that LSD has been deemed to have no legitimate medical use. However, LSD wasn’t always illegal, and during the early years after its discovery, doctors conducted experiments on patients with alcoholism. They found that LSD was a legitimate and proven treatment for the disease.
In a recent episode of Straight Talk MD, our guest Tom Shroder, author of the “Acid Test”, explained the interesting story behind these early experiments, and how LSD helped many alcoholics overcome their addiction.
“Every person who studied this, self-experimented with it. Today, people would definitely look at you like you’re crazy. I’m an anesthesiologist and if I started experimenting with fentanyl, I’m a dead man. I’m done. Here, it was like standard.”
“Well early in the history of psychopharmacology, this is what people did. They did do self-experimenting. It does sound a little crazy, but when Hoffman’s first did it, he took a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny dose, a fraction of what you think might have an effect, and then slowly he worked his way up.
A lot of people were doing this. And the other thing is, that the effects were so profound, that someone who did do that would likely want to continue in the research, because suddenly they’re thinking ‘This is the most valuable insight of my life. So, obviously, this has to be something that could be useful.’ Humphry Osmond was one of these people, and he went to a tiny psychiatric hospital, in nowhere in Canada. I mean, in the middle of nowhere in Saskatchewan, and they started doing experiments.”
"It wasn't the drug that cured them, but it was rather the experience that the drug enabled."
“They were treating alcoholics by giving them an LSD experience, and what they discovered was that – unlike with penicillin, where you have an infection and you give somebody penicillin, and without any conscious involvement on the patient’s part, the drug attacks the infection, kills off the bacteria and the wound heals. In the case of psychedelics, it wasn’t like you gave them the drug, and it sort of somehow attacked the alcoholism and made it go away. Instead, it enabled these profound, spiritual type experiences, that gave people the insight that made them not want to drink anymore because they had a new attitude about themselves and their bodies. It wasn’t the drug that cured them, but it was rather the experience that the drug enabled. This was sort of the core of all future therapeutic uses of these drugs.”
“He was very successful. He was far more successful in fact than any other treatment of alcoholism.”
“Yes! In fact, Canada had said that this was no longer an experimental treatment. It was, in fact, a proven treatment, and this was right about 1970 and the late 60s, where it all got shut down because everybody started freaking out about it, and they put it on the most restrictive category of prohibited drugs.”