LSD Therapy for Alcoholism | CBD project


The following is adopted from LSD The Wonder Child: The Golden Age of Psychedelic Research in the Fifties by Tom Hatsis.

In the late 1950s, five hospitals in the Saskatchewan district of Alberta, Canada, offered a new type of psychedelic therapy: the treatment of alcoholism with LSD. Duncan Blewett, an Irish psychologist, played an “active role” as a LSD facilitator in Saskatchewan, administrator LSD to numerous alcoholics who could not step on the twelve steps. While there, in 1959 he wrote (perhaps) the world’s first medical manual for use LSD to treat alcoholism, The manual for the therapeutic use of lysergic acid diethylamide-25: individual and group procedures.

The use of a psychedelic to treat alcoholism had its origins in the early twentieth century. Anthropologists working in 1907 reported on alcoholics among Native Americans, who had successfully given up the bottle in favor of peyote, the hallucinogenic cactus. Those who had made the transition from whiskey to dry whiskey became “successful, healthy and prominent members” of their society. Think of the following testimony: “Jilt [peyote] it heals us of our temporary ills, as well as those of a spiritual nature. Take away the desire for strong drink [.] I myself have cured myself of a disgusting disease too horrible to mention. Hundreds of others have it too ”.

Modern clinical work in this area had begun with psychiatrist Colin Smith of Saskatchewan, who attempted to replicate delirium tremens (DTs) It is often felt by alcohol abstinence, which includes high fever, profuse sweating, nightmares, irritability, and hallucinations. Some serious cases can cause death. Smith hoped to “crash” [alcoholics] in full awareness of its degradation and [generate] a desire for reform, ”through use LSD simulate DTs.

Others caught on quickly. Dr. Humphrey Osmond and Dr. Abram Hoffer considered alcoholics to be the main candidates. LSD experimentation “because it’s often easier to know if they’re improving or not.” Either they stopped drinking or they continued. And so they began to try to find if LSD it could effectively cure the “spiritual disease” of alcoholism. Osmond and Hoffer gave LSD to 500 alcoholics who had not been left over after receiving Alcoholics Anonymous treatment and who had not had any luck with traditional psychotherapy.

Psychosis or Gnosis?

Thinking about the time (1954) that LSD and related compounds resting on the family of psychotomimetic chemicals (“mimicking madness”), Osmond and Hoffer “conceived the idea that [LSD and mescaline] it represented something very similar to delirium tremens: that many people who actually give up alcohol do so based on the fact that they have had a DT attack and become them. We [thought] it might be a very good idea to “attack” a person before they have been completely destroyed. “

The plan backfired. Instead of experimenting DT, patients had “[f]abrupt personality changes … although that was not the purpose of the experiment. “Where they had tried to unleash terror, they provoked” enlightening “experiences. Dr. Smith noted that the change of alcoholics.” it resembles the state of religious conversion. “One patient sounded about his” momentary union with God. ” LSD. “Those who have not had the transcendental experience do not change. They keep drinking, “Hoffer told Josiah Macy Jr.’s conference in 1959.” The large proportion of people who had them have changed. “

Follow – up surveys conducted after the LSD the treatment revealed surprising results: “about half of the patients improved or stopped drinking altogether,” a Saturday evening article stated four years later. So promising was the success rate of recovering alcoholics with LSD therapy he called the Saskatchewan Office of Alcoholism LSD “The most useful remedy we have ever known.”

Not bad for a chemical that supposedly drives people crazy.

This excerpt is adapted from LSD The Wonder Child: The Golden Age of Psychedelic Research in the Fifties by Tom Hatsis (Park Street Press, 2021).

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