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LSD for Alcoholics?

A retrospective meta-analysis suggests that LSD may aid in treatment of alcoholism.

By | March 12, 2012

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, DENNIS MOJADO

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) may help treat alcoholism, according to a new study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Sifting through studies published on LSD as an alcohol addiction treatment in the 1960s and ’70s, the authors were able to collate data from double-blind and randomized trials. The studies were initially too small to yield positive results, author Teri Krebs, a neuroscientist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, explained to Nature. “But when you combine the data in a meta-analysis, we have more than 500 patients and there is definitely an effect.”

While 38 percent of people receiving a placebo reported misusing alcohol less often, 59 percent of those receiving LSD as a treatment claimed to have reduced their alcohol intake. Even one dose of LSD showed a beneficial effect, and the effects lasted 3 to 6 months.

“This is impressive and important work,” Matthew Johnson, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University, currently investigating effectiveness of psilocybin as a treatment for nicotine addiction, told Nature. “Although this meta-analysis does not replace the need to test the approach in new, well-designed and rigorous clinical trials, it puts some more muscle behind the interpretation that the older literature shows hints that psychedelic therapy might really help addiction.”

Though the mechanism by which LSD acts is unclear, the drug shares structural similarities with and activates some of the same brain receptors as the neurotransmitter serotonin. Some researchers hypothesize that psychedelics may work by reordering brain pathways leading to addiction.

“Psychedelics probably work in addiction by making the brain function more chaotically for a period—a bit like shaking up a snow globe—weakening reinforced brain connections and dynamics,” explained Robin Carhart-Harris, a psychopharmacologist at Imperial College London who was not involved in the work, to Nature.

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Comments

Avatar of: Scientist55

Scientist55

Posts: 6

March 12, 2012

amazingly naive!

Avatar of: Tumelo Kwame

Tumelo Kwame

Posts: 2

March 12, 2012

In response to above researcher, quoted as implying that the take home message is that we need further studies.

Is there a double standard here? Approved daily medications, motivational interviewing or cognitive behaviour therapy do not have better
outcome or evidence base than LSD for treating alcoholism.

A meta-analysis of randomized
controlled trials of motivational interviewing for alcohol-use
disorders: It's a bit better than nothing (no treatment) for a few
months but not statistically different from treatment-as-usual.

Smedslund G, Berg RC, Hammerstrøm KT, Steiro A, Leiknes KA, Dahl
HM, Karlsen K. (2011) Motivational interviewing for substance abuse.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev 5: CD008063.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu...

A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of
cognitive-behavioral treatment for alcohol-use disorders: No
statistically significant effect (See Table 2).

Magill M, Ray LA
(2009) Cognitive-behavioral treatment with adult alcohol and illicit
drug users: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Stud
Alcohol Drugs 70: 516-527.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu...

The studies included in the above meta-analyses are mostly low quality compared to the LSD randomized controlled trials.

Prof David Nutt, Imperial College London, quoted by BBC: "Curing
alcohol dependency requires huge changes in the way you see yourself.
That's what LSD does", "Overall there is a big effect, show me another treatment with results as good; we've missed a trick here", "This is probably as good as anything we've got [for treating alcoholism]."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/heal...

Also of interest:

BBC World News interview video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Avatar of: Tumelo Kwame

Tumelo Kwame

Posts: 2

March 12, 2012

In response to Johnson, who is quoted as implying that this is impressing work, but there is a need for further studies. Is there a double standard here?

A meta-analysis of randomized
controlled trials of motivational interviewing for alcohol-use
disorders: It's a bit better than nothing (no treatment) for a few
months but not statistically different from treatment-as-usual.

Smedslund G, Berg RC, Hammerstrøm KT, Steiro A, Leiknes KA, Dahl
HM, Karlsen K. (2011) Motivational interviewing for substance abuse.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev 5: CD008063.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu...

A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of
cognitive-behavioral treatment for alcohol-use disorders: No
statistically significant effect (See Table 2).

Magill M, Ray LA
(2009) Cognitive-behavioral treatment with adult alcohol and illicit
drug users: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Stud
Alcohol Drugs 70: 516-527.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu...

The studies included in the above meta-analyses are mostly low quality compared to the LSD randomized controlled trials.

Prof David Nutt, Imperial College London, quoted by BBC: "Curing
alcohol dependency requires huge changes in the way you see yourself.
That's what LSD does", "Overall there is a big effect, show me another treatment with results as good; we've missed a trick here", "This is probably as good as anything we've got [for treating alcoholism]."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/heal...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

March 12, 2012

amazingly naive!

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

March 12, 2012

In response to above researcher, quoted as implying that the take home message is that we need further studies.

Is there a double standard here? Approved daily medications, motivational interviewing or cognitive behaviour therapy do not have better
outcome or evidence base than LSD for treating alcoholism.

A meta-analysis of randomized
controlled trials of motivational interviewing for alcohol-use
disorders: It's a bit better than nothing (no treatment) for a few
months but not statistically different from treatment-as-usual.

Smedslund G, Berg RC, Hammerstrøm KT, Steiro A, Leiknes KA, Dahl
HM, Karlsen K. (2011) Motivational interviewing for substance abuse.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev 5: CD008063.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu...

A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of
cognitive-behavioral treatment for alcohol-use disorders: No
statistically significant effect (See Table 2).

Magill M, Ray LA
(2009) Cognitive-behavioral treatment with adult alcohol and illicit
drug users: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Stud
Alcohol Drugs 70: 516-527.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu...

The studies included in the above meta-analyses are mostly low quality compared to the LSD randomized controlled trials.

Prof David Nutt, Imperial College London, quoted by BBC: "Curing
alcohol dependency requires huge changes in the way you see yourself.
That's what LSD does", "Overall there is a big effect, show me another treatment with results as good; we've missed a trick here", "This is probably as good as anything we've got [for treating alcoholism]."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/heal...

Also of interest:

BBC World News interview video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

March 12, 2012

In response to Johnson, who is quoted as implying that this is impressing work, but there is a need for further studies. Is there a double standard here?

A meta-analysis of randomized
controlled trials of motivational interviewing for alcohol-use
disorders: It's a bit better than nothing (no treatment) for a few
months but not statistically different from treatment-as-usual.

Smedslund G, Berg RC, Hammerstrøm KT, Steiro A, Leiknes KA, Dahl
HM, Karlsen K. (2011) Motivational interviewing for substance abuse.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev 5: CD008063.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu...

A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of
cognitive-behavioral treatment for alcohol-use disorders: No
statistically significant effect (See Table 2).

Magill M, Ray LA
(2009) Cognitive-behavioral treatment with adult alcohol and illicit
drug users: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Stud
Alcohol Drugs 70: 516-527.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu...

The studies included in the above meta-analyses are mostly low quality compared to the LSD randomized controlled trials.

Prof David Nutt, Imperial College London, quoted by BBC: "Curing
alcohol dependency requires huge changes in the way you see yourself.
That's what LSD does", "Overall there is a big effect, show me another treatment with results as good; we've missed a trick here", "This is probably as good as anything we've got [for treating alcoholism]."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/heal...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

March 13, 2012

scientist55: can you please explain your comment as i'm a alcoholic who really wants to stop drinking for good but do find it very hard to stop, i have issues at home which are deep seated.

Avatar of: John Voysey

John Voysey

Posts: 1457

March 13, 2012

scientist55: can you please explain your comment as i'm a alcoholic who really wants to stop drinking for good but do find it very hard to stop, i have issues at home which are deep seated.

Avatar of: Scientist55

Scientist55

Posts: 6

March 14, 2012

There's been a very long history of quick fixes for addiction that have been sadly damaging.  All of them.  Addiction is a very complex disease.  Carl Jung called it a spiritual malady.  Would highly recommend that you attend AA meetings.  This actually works. 

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

March 14, 2012

There's been a very long history of quick fixes for addiction that have been sadly damaging.  All of them.  Addiction is a very complex disease.  Carl Jung called it a spiritual malady.  Would highly recommend that you attend AA meetings.  This actually works. 

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