LSD and Alcoholism

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You can't make this stuff up. A history of medicine professor at the University of Alberta, Erika Dyck, has rediscovered studies from '60s Canada that show LSD can be an effective treatment of alcholism.

According to one study conducted in 1962, 65 per cent of the alcoholics in the experiment stopped drinking for at least a year-and-a-half (the duration of the study) after taking one dose of LSD. The controlled trial also concluded that less than 25 per cent of alcoholics quit drinking for the same period after receiving group therapy, and less than 12 per cent quit in response to traditional psychotherapy techniques commonly used at that time.

Published in the Quarterly Journal for Studies on Alcohol, the 1962 study was received with much skepticism. One research group in Toronto tried to replicate the results of the study, but wanted to observe the effect of LSD on the patients in isolation, so they blindfolded or tied up the patients before giving them the drug. Under such circumstances, the Toronto researchers determined LSD was not effective in treating alcoholism.

The Saskatchewan group argued that the drug needed to be provided in a nurturing environment to be effective. However, the Toronto researchers held more credibility than the Saskatchewan researchers--who were led by a controversial, British psychiatrist, Dr. Humphry Osmond--and the Saskatchewan group's research was essentially buried.

I just have to wonder, did they researchers in Toronto tell the subjects they were going to be tied up or blindfolded?

Wikipedia has more about Dr. Humphry Osmond, the man who coined the term "psychedelic" and who's middle name was "Fortescue", including this bit about the study in question:

Osmond is also known for one study in the late 1950s in which he attempted to cure alcoholics with acute LSD treatment, resulting in a claimed 50% success rate. He also treated Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill W. with LSD with positive results. There exists however an alternate version of the events that is told by psychiatrist Abram Hoffer, MD. Osmond and Hoffer not only worked with LSD but also with niacin, which is now called vitamin B3. It is Bill W. himself who made this term popular, after he realized, thanks to the two researchers, the antipsychotic potential of this vitamin when given in supraphysiologic doses. B3 became known as a treatment for alcoholism, as well as for LSD-induced and schizophrenic psychosis Vitamin B-3: Niacin and Its Amide by A. Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.. The underlying adrenochrome and kryptopyrrole (mauve factor) hypotheses were met with stiff, unsubstantiated opposition. The B3 protocol for alcoholism, despite encouraging results, fell into oblivion amongst the Alcoholics Anonymous organization, which gradually became a faith-based organisation reflecting the orientations of the other AA co-founder.

I'm glad I'm not an alcoholic so I don't wind up tied to a bed on an acid trip in the name of science. I think I'll just stick with the niacin I take to help lower my cholesterol.


Inositol Hexaniacinate (also called inositol hexanicotinate) is an alternate form of niacin that is "no flush." See

also in the body of the text are these comments:

There are a number of other conditions which respond favorably to niacin therapy. It is this author's contention that they might respond as well or better to treatment with IHN. A brief review of some of these conditions follows. Elevated levels of acetaldehyde are postulated to contribute to addiction in alcoholics while a possible deficiency of NAD is believed to cause restlessness and irritability in this population. Niacin oxidizes alcohol to reduce acetaldehyde levels and also saturates NAD receptors in the brain to abolish a possible deficiency of NAD.31 A five year study of 507 alcoholics receiving 3 or more grams daily of niacin reported that 30-60% of alcoholics benefit from supplementation by reduced recidivism and symptom reduction.32 Most studies examined recommended a minimum of 500 mg daily for therapeutic efficacy. The obvious concern lies with the supplementation of high doses of niacin to a population with already compromised liver status. The use of IHN with its apparent lack of side effects coupled with the well-known lipotropic effects of inositol would seem a better choice.

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This page contains a single entry by Kevin Murphy published on October 6, 2006 12:21 PM.

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