Turn on, Tune in, Get Cured?

LSD Study Spotlights Decades-Old  Research On Hallucinogen For Drinking, Mental Illness 

by David Freeman/ Huffington Post/ March 9, 2012

Talk about flashbacks. New research suggests that LSD–a mind-altering drug known to cause recurrent hallucinations–may find new popularity not as a recreational drug but as a treatment for alcoholism.

For a study published in Journal of Psychopharmacology, researchers affiliated with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Harvard University looked at the results of six old studies of LSD that had been largely overlooked when they were first published. The researchers found “evidence for a clear and consistent beneficial effect of LSD for treating alcohol dependency,” according to a written statement released by the journal’s publisher.

The studies were undertaken in the 1960s and 1970s, decades after the 1938 discovery of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and at a time when the drug was considered a possible treatment for medical problems including pain and anxiety as well as alcoholism.


Three views of the LSD molecule.

And sobering up wasn’t the only apparent benefit of LSD the vintage research showed, according to the statement. As the author of one of the studies wrote at the time, “It was not unusual for patients following their LSD experience to become much more self-accepting, to show greater openness and accessibility, and to adopt a more positive, optimistic view of their capacities to face future problems.”

Maybe that’s not surprising, given how LSD works. By affecting so-called “serotonin receptors” in the brain, the drug is known to alter imagination and perception. And if you want to know what that feels like, take a look at the black-and-white footage above–purportedly shot in Los Angeles in 1956–in which a woman recounts her own acid trip.

“I’ve never seen such infinite beauty in my life,” she says in the video. “It’s like a curtain or a spider web. Can you see it? Everything is so beautiful and lovely and alive.”

David Freeman is the senior science editor for HuffPost.

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