Using LSD to combat alcoholism and addiction is a contentious issue. Although most recognize the risks of treating addiction with a recreational drug as a bad idea, there is a growing fringe that is advocating its use.
The most recent argument for using LSD to combat alcoholism is that a new study suggests there is no long-term damage to the brain. At least, that’s what the headlines imply. However, that isn’t what Pål-Ørjan Johansen and Teri Krebs from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim actually said. Their study said, “There were no significant associations between lifetime use of any psychedelics, or use of LSD in the past year, and increased rate of any of the mental health outcomes.”
The difference is quite a bit different, actually. On one hand, the study suggests psychedelics, generally and as a whole, did not have significant associations with increased mental illness. LSD, on the other hand, is noted specifically as an exception. The exception does not say “except for LSD”—it says “use of LSD in the past year.”
There is a pretty big difference between the two.
These are also the same scientists who are advocating the use of LSD to combat alcoholism in previous studies. Further, the evidence found in one of their studies says a single dose of LSD “may work just as well…as daily doses of medications currently in use today.”
There is a huge difference between treating a physical addiction to alcohol—which is temporary—than the addictive behavior that preceded the drinking in the first place.
Further, the logic does not check out. Giving an addict another escape route from reality is not treating addiction; it is simply changing how their addiction is acted out. It is like saying cocaine can treat a crystal meth addiction. There is nothing inherent about LSD that would actually treat the addiction itself. It is all the work of the patient.
What about the “insight” that it gives?
That is the thing: there is none. I know because I had gone to psychiatrists tripping on acid before, and if anything, it was counter-productive. I was more interested in watching the walls drip than I was in talking about my bogus life.
But Bill Wilson was on acid, you say?
That is true. However, as any long-timer still clean and sober can attest, just because we get some time under our belts does not mean we suddenly have all the answers. In fact, if we are working a good program, we realize how few answers we actually have. It is when we start thinking we have this thing figured out that we start making serious errors in judgment.
For instance, Bill also had a few affairs while still married to his wife, Lois. Incidentally, these affairs happened at around the same time he was taking LSD to combat alcoholism.
It might just be my opinion, but from the sound of it, that does not sound like a very effective treatment for alcoholism.
No one gets perfect after this program. However, there is a reason why we have to remain humble and remember that our best thinking got us into addiction recovery in the first place.