(NaturalNews) It might seem like trading one destructive dependency for another, but once upon a time, 40 years ago, scientists and doctors used the hallucinogen LSD to treat alcoholism. These days, that treatment modality is being reconsidered.
A new analysis of that decades-old research "provides a clear and consistent beneficial effect of LSD for treating alcohol dependency," says a report published recently in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) did a meta analysis of data from six studies conducted in the late 1960s and early 1970s of utilizing lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, to treat alcoholics.
The study involved 536 people, most of whom were enrolled in an alcohol treatment program. The study compared of subjects given low-dose LSD, stimulants or non-drug treatments. The results were clear: Though subjects were given various doses, in every trial LSD had a beneficial effect on alcohol abuse.
'Opens your mind'
On average, the data showed that 59 percent of those being treated for alcohol abuse showed improvements after treatment, compared to 38 percent who were given alternatives. Only subjects given LSD were more likely to refrain from any further ingestion of alcohol.
"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," the researchers said.
Lead researcher Teri Krebs said the LSD interacts with a specific brain chemical process that could arouse "new connections and open the mind for new perspectives and possibilities."
Still, "LSD had a significant beneficial effect on alcohol misuse at the first reported follow-up assessment," the study's authors said. "The effectiveness of a single dose of LSD compares well with the effectiveness of daily naltrexone [reVia, Vivitrol] acamprosate [Campral], or disulfiram [Antabuse]" - all drugs currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of alcoholism.
Further examination of the meta data found that LSD treatments produced the most significant results from two months to six months after treatment, but that there was no significance difference between control groups at one year. What's surprising, though, is the lasting effect on the recurrence of alcoholism from just a single dose of the hallucinogen.
Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder convinced
One of the early advocates of using LSD to treat alcoholism was none other than Bill Wilson, the co-founder of the treatment-and-therapy group Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Wilson, Time magazine reported, was never a believer that AA alone was enough to be effective in the overall treatment of alcoholism. In fact, he was an LSD user himself, discovering that the deleterious effects of the drug produced a spiritual state similar to the one that helped him give up drinking in the first place.
In his AA biography, Pass It On, he wrote:
"It is a generally acknowledged fact in spiritual development that ego reduction makes the influx of God's grace possible. [...] I consider LSD to be of some value to some people, and practically no damage to anyone. It will never take the place of any of the existing means by which we can reduce the ego, and keep it reduced."
LSD isn't the only substance that researchers say improves the state of mind. Psilocybin, the hallucinogenic drug in 'magic mushrooms,' can trigger transformative spiritual states in low-to-moderate doses, which can also improve long-term psychological health, researchers say.