Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) as an Intervention for Alcoholism


LysergicAcid Diethylamide (LSD) as an Intervention for Alcoholism


Alcoholismhas become rampant and a disturbing issue in the society. When peopleget addicted to drug or substance, they cannot sustain theirmarriages, take care of the families nor sustain their jobs.Currently, there have been several interventions methods to treatAlcohol addiction such as rehabilitation. However, according toLiester(2014), many of the interventions methods to treat drug and substanceaddictions have proven to be ineffective. The issue of alcoholaddiction has forced many scientists to conduct research to determineLSD`s efficacy in treating alcoholism. Lysergic Acid Diethylamide(LSD) is a drug that its primary function is to change a person`sthinking and perception (Hintzen and Passie, 2010). In other words,LSD is a type of a hallucinogen.

Incountries such as the United States, LSD is considered illegal due toits high risk to misuse and adverse side effects. Back in the 1960s,LSD became popular as a recreational drug and, as a result wasmisused. Following such a trend, the drug was declared illegal in theUS in 1968. Recently, scientists such as Krebs and Johansen haverevisited the issue on the use of LSD in treating addictions such asalcohol addiction (2012). Several researchers point out that there isthe need for further research to prove the benefits of LSD as a drugfor treating substance addictions. The current research aims toreview several studies on the use of LSD as an intervention fortreating addictions.

1.1Thesisstatement:LSD,if properly used properly as per recommendations by physicians is aneffective drug for treating narcotic addictions such as alcoholism.

2.0.Discovery of LSD

LSDwas discovered in 1938 by Albert Hoffman in an effort to manufacturea circulatory and respiratory stimulant from ergot (B Liester, 2014).He named the compound lysergic acid diethylamide-25 since it was the25thsubstance to be synthesized from lysergic acid. Upon first testing ofthe compound, it was found to have adverse effects on the uterus(Hintzen and Passie, 2010). Further testing of the compound inanimals caused restlessness, and this led to the ban of furthertesting of LSD. In 1943, Hoffman synthesized LSD for a second time.He injected small portion (about 250mocrograms) of LSD under his skinto investigate its effects. Despite the fact that 250 micrograms werea small quantity according to Hoffman, he experienced symptoms suchas mental confusion, dizziness, perceptual distortion. However, asHintzen and Passie explain, Hoffman also experienced instances ofenhanced thinking and a perception that his consciousness existedoutside of his body (2010).


Accordingto Liester (2014), before the ban of LSD, it was a significantsubstance in psychoanalysis. However, in the 1960s, the drug wasmisused for recreational purposes and highly criticized bypoliticians and the media, leading to its ban. According to Krebs andJohansen (2012), some of the studies carried out back in the 1960sproved that LSD could help in treating alcoholism. Up to date, manyscientists believe that if further studies were approved, they couldvalidate the arguments that LSD can be a valuable drug in treatingnarcotic addictions. However, clear rules and regulations need to beestablished to prevent its misuse. Unfortunately, the fact that LSDremains a prohibited substance in the US and many other countries,there has been no further research and study to determine the medicalvalue and potential of the substance.

3.0Historical use of LSD in treating Alcoholism

Followingits discovery in 1938, human trials with LSD were initiated.According to Krebs and Johansen, after the initial tests to determineLSD’s properties and potential uses, revealed some possibilitiesthat the substance could be a significant research tool in psychiatry(2012). Low doses of LSD showed to assist psychotherapy by permittingself-conscious materials to flow more smoothly into perception(Hintzen and Passie, 2010). According to Gasser and others, LSDhistorical trails revealed possibilities that it is a crucial drugfor managing life-threatening diseases such as mental disorders(2014). Following these trials in the 1950s, researchers in Europeand America started exploring LSD’s curative potential (Liester,2014). Various experiments proved that LSD was useful not only inpsychotherapy but also had the potential to treat narcotic addictionsespecially alcoholism (Krebs and Johansen, 2012).

Afterseveral trials that proved LSD a potential curative drug for treatingnarcotic addictions, Hoffer and Osmond developed a treatment modelfor treating addictions in 1953 (Liester, 2014). The treatment model,which they gave the name “psychedelic therapy”, involved threesessions, in which 300 to 1500 micrograms of LSD were administeredeach session. The aim of the therapy was to generate a “psychedelicpeak experience” to assist the individual in overcoming theaddiction. The primary goal of a Psychedelic therapy as Liesterexplains is the initiation of a supernatural experience that altersan individual’s personal perception and the world around him(2014). For almost ten years before the use of LSD was prohibited,psychedelic therapy was used in treating not only alcoholism butseveral other narcotic addictions (Krebs and Johansen, 2012).

4.0Recent studies to prove LCD as an effective intervention for treatingalcoholism

4.1StudyI (By Rick Doblin)

Recently,Rick Doblin, a senior scientist at MAPS revisited the research fourdecades ago, aimed at establishing the benefits of LSD. MAPS is anon-profit organization that carries out scientific studies on drugssuch as LSD, marijuana, MDMA and others. According to Gasser andothers, Doblin agrees with Hoffman arguments that LSD was misused(2014). Doblin and other scientists at MAPS carried out a study on 12patients in the last stages of life-threatening conditions. Eight ofthe patients were randomly picked to under free psychotherapysessions and get treated with LSD to manage anxiety. The remainingfour patients were administered with a placebo and served as thecontrol group. True to the scientist` expectations, patients treatedwith LSD showed significant improvement in anxiety management. Thecontrol group, on the other hand, indicated increased levels ofanxiety (Gasser, et al. 2014). Similar to treatment of alcohol withLSD, the scientists in this study made use of LSD to create apsychedelic peak experience, enabling the patients momentarily forgetabout their conditions and achieve happiness and satisfaction(Liester, 2014).

Afterthe experiment, Doblin, and his colleagues measured the long-termeffects of LSD in treating anxiety. They measured anxiety repeatedlyfor one year. The scientists noted that the patients who underwentLSD therapy recorded reduced anxiety, and the trend became betterwith time. From ma scientific point of view, LSD affects the mentalperspective by making it a bit unreal hence creating confusion anddizziness (Hintzen and Passie, 2010). Doblin argues that LSD–assisted therapy is a special experience, both therapeutic andnuminous (Gasser, et al. 2014). According to the researchers at MAPS,LSD can be an efficient drug for treating not only anxiety bynarcotic additions such as alcoholism. Scientists such as Pollanargue that LSD helps patients focus on the present and forget abouttheir challenging and pressing issues (2015).

4.2Study2 (By Krebs and Johansen)

Morerecently, researchers have suggested the use of psychedelicdrugs such as LSD as a means of therapy (Gasser, et al. 2014). In2011, magic mushrooms were suggested as an efficient substance fortreating depression,anxiety and addiction. In 2012, Krebsand Johansen embarked on a study to review the studies carried outback in the 1960s and 1970s to establish the uses of LSD in treatingalcoholism. From the study, a total of 536 patients were taking partin alcohol treatment programs and some of them were treated withsmall doses of LSD (210 to 800 micrograms). According to theresearchers, 59% of the patients treated with LSD showed reducedlevels of alcohol abuse, compared with 39% of the other group nottreated with LSD.

Accordingto Krebs and Johansen, from their analysis, people treated with LSDreported higher levels of abstinence (2012). The scientists arguethat a single dose of LSD has a significant beneficial effect onalcoholism. According to their speculation, if a single dose canproduce such a significant effect, then multiple doses of LSD canlead to total and permanent abstinence from alcoholism. Krebsconfessed that the results of the various studies they analyzed wereconsistent despite the fact the studies involved few participantslimiting the studies’ statistical power. Krebs and Johansen arguethat governments should consider revisiting the issue of LSD andapprove further studies to validate its potential uses in the medicalfield.


Itis important to note that up to date, no deaths from the toxicity ofLSD have ever been reported. According to Zilliac, many psychedelicdrugs have been proved to be non-addictive contrary to other drugssuch a cocaine and heroin (2015). Therefore, the governments shouldconsider uplifting the ban on the use of LSD to enable scientistsunlock its therapeutic potential. The primary argument leading to itsillegalization back in 1966 was that the substance was being abusedfor recreational purposes. Therefore, the government should legalizethe use of LSD in clinical settings and set rules and regulations toprohibit its misuse (Zilliac, 2015). Pollan argues that LSD is ahighly potential drug in terms of medical properties that governmentshould consider approving further studies (2015). Apart fromregulating the use of LSD, governments should create awareness amongthe public through education forums on the negative impacts LSDmisuse. If properly regulated and its use restricted to clinicalsettings only, LSD can significantly impact on treating of narcoticaddictions such alcoholism (Krebs and Johansen, 2012).


Fromthe paper, there is more than enough evidence from past scientificresearchers that psychedelic drugs such as LSD have great therapeuticpotentials. It is unfortunate that LSD was declared illegal in manynations without being fully explored to establish its medicalproperties and how it could assist in treating conditions such asaddictions, anxiety and other mental-related diseases. Various recentstudies agree with Hoffman’s argument that LSD-assisted therapy canbe an effective intervention for treating alcohol addiction. MAPS, areputable organization has released results that LSD is an effectivetreatment for intervention and hence can also be used in otherconditions such as addictions. It is of great importance thatgovernments consider lifting the ban on the use of LSD in clinicalsettings to enable its exploration to unlock its medical potential.However, LSD legalization should be accompanied by strict regulationsand creation of awareness among the public to avoid its misuse.


Gasser,P., Holstein, D., Michel, Y., Doblin, R., Yazar-Klosinski, B.,Passie, T., &amp Brenneisen, R. (2014). Safety and efficacy oflysergic acid diethylamide-assisted psychotherapy for anxietyassociated with life-threatening diseases.TheJournal of nervous and mental disease,&nbsp202(7),513.

HintzenA, &amp Passie T (2010). Thepharmacology of LSD.Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Krebs,T. S., &amp Johansen, P. Ø. (2012). Lysergic acid diethylamide(LSD) for alcoholism: meta-analysis of randomized controlledtrials.&nbspJournalof Psychopharmacology,&nbsp26(7), 994-1002.

Lawrence,J. (2014). Psychedelics: entering a new age of addictiontherapy.Hospital,&nbsp16,20.

Liester,M. (2014). A Review of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) in theTreatment of Addictions: Historical Perspectives and FutureProspects.&nbspCurrentdrug abuse reviews,&nbsp7(3),146-156.

Pollan,M. (2015). The Trip Treatment. Annals of Medicine.

ZilliacG. (2015). Why(and How) We Should Legalize Psychedelics: Psychedelics hold enormous potential for understanding the human mind. Retrievedfrom: