Study: Can LSD Treat Alcohol Addiction?

There’s a growing body of research suggesting that hallucinogenic drugs, in therapeutic doses, might be potential treatments for alcoholism and smoking cessation. A recent analysis, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology and funded by the Research Council of Norway, is asking if LSD is an effective medical treatment for alcoholism. The analysis, which looks at data from six different studies in the 60s and 70s, concludes that just one dose of the hallucinogen may help addicts abstain from alcohol.

NPR talked to Matthew W. Johnson, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University, to get his opinion on the research. He’s part of a group that’s been researching psilocybin, the hallucinogenic chemical found in “magic mushrooms,” and Salvinorin A, the chemical found in salvia.

Johnson’s opinion? People who experience hallucinations, or “trips,” while taking these chemicals report that the experiences are extremely meaningful. Sometimes, they’re life-changing. People can leave the experience and decide that they’re going to quit smoking – or, in the case of patients with a terminal illness, they may more easily come to terms with their illness. He’s seen these effects firsthand with Salvinorin A and psilocybin, so he doesn’t see why it should be any different with LSD.

The important thing to note is that no one is suggesting taking multiple doses, or even high doses, of hallucinogens to combat addiction. For one thing, these drugs can have dangerous and disturbing side effects. Johnson also notes that not all people who take hallucinogens will be cured of their addictions. As a therapeutic tool, they need to be taken in the right surroundings with the right kind of support available. “There have been plenty of people who have been alcoholics who have taken LSD, and it has done nothing for their alcoholism,” he told NPR.


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Photo Credit: Tanakawho


Michealhussey M.
Past Member 4 years ago

I guess this blog is perfectly incomparable.
professional interventionist

Carolanne Powell
C Powell5 years ago

LSD in a powerful mind altering drug that can leave lasting effects...not necessarily good ones either. Messing with this drug is far too much of a gamble.

Decobecq Brigitte
Decobecq B5 years ago


This is quite a curious thing. You have a problem with alcohol and to solve this problem you will take some LSD. This is to say "how to replace one problem by a bigger one"...
Solutions are not to be addicted to a poison more efficient then the first one !
Could it be possible to advocate about a drug free life !

Louise Mowder
Louise Mowder5 years ago

Teenagers who have died while on Ecstasy have been taking large doses in uncontrolled settings. They have died of dehydration, not from the drug itself. All of the stories of people dying on KSD (like Art Linklatter's son) were of people who, once again, took the drug in uncontrolled, non-therapeutic circumstances.

These compounds are drugs like any other. One can overdose on a vast variety of drugs, from amphetamines to barbiturates to aspirin. Morphine, for instance, is of tremendous use in controlling pain .... but it's administered in a hospital or other controlled environment.

To reject even *testing* these drugs because irresponsible people have used them in ways that injured them is simply ridiculous and cruel. Find out, at least, if there *is* a therapeutic use of them. After all, thousands of people drink themselves to death, or die in alcohol-related accidents, and the only limit we put on its consumption is that of restricting its purchase by minors.

Kathleen L.
Kathleen L5 years ago

Hmmm, let's see if I can remember way back sixties-ish-- were the trippers heavy drinkers? No, don't think so, but neither were the pot heads. Honestly, I don't know if this isn't just plain stupid, or if Tim Leary is pulling strings from beyond the grave! Oh, look, aren't the trails PRETTY and can you hear that color....? :)

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y5 years ago

MDMA or Salvinorin in therapeutic, physician-controlled doses, maybe. LSD or Psylocibin, no.

These things are dangerous. Several teenagers here in CA have died from overdoses of Ecstasy. And people on overdoses of LSD have committed suicide.

Theresa G.
T G5 years ago

Guess who/what's behind this "published analysis":
C - Control
A - Agenda
B - By
A - Anti-human
L - Leeches

John R.
John R5 years ago

Some may "trip the light fantastic" while others may live in the horror of the moment, whatever their fear is. Sketchy at best.

Louise Mowder
Louise Mowder5 years ago

There is an even more beneficial hallucinogen: MDMA, or "Ecstasy." It was being used in therapeutic situations to great success in the mid-1980s. But the Reagan Administration made a emergency rush to get it classified as Schedule One.

Anybody who has taken the medicinal grade knows why this drug received its street name. Ir actually relieves you of your fears and worries. Events in your life that have terrified or made you miserable and depressed are suddenly put into proper perspective. Relationships that have been troubled lose their painful mien. You understand yourself, your actions and drives, and accept them with humility and grace - and do the same towards others in your life. It does not make you "see God," but it places the compassion and joy that we associate with God into a central , governing place in your life. You understand your purpose for being in this place and time in the Universe. And, yes, it allows you to speak frankly and kindly to the most important people in your life, and hear honesty from them without pain or distress - just with acceptance and understanding.

The knowledge that you gain during a therapeutic afternoon or day spent on Ecstasy remains with your for days, weeks - even years. It is exactly the sort of loving insight that frees people from chemical dependencies and other self-destructive behaviors. If our government wasn't so reflexively cynical about the "war on drugs," these compounds would have received the respect and the resea

john k.
john k5 years ago

.............smoked for 45 years.....ok i qualify i have to become an alcoholic..........then, it's pass the shroooooms please