A report that the hallucinogenic drug LSD could help to treat alcoholism is under scrutiny, and doctors tell Consumers Digest that LSD likely won’t be prescribed to patients anytime soon.
Scientists don’t know what the permanent effects of LSD use will be, says Dr. Ihsan Salloum of Miller School of Medicine at University of Miami. He says the issue requires further study.
Salloum’s comment was in response to a report that was published in the March 2012 issue of Journal of Psychopharmacology, in which researchers in Norway discussed six studies that related to LSD and alcoholism from 1966 to 1970. According to those studies, a single dose of LSD helped heavy drinkers to quit by a 21 percent margin over those who didn’t receive LSD.
But Salloum says he questions the more than 40-year-old data, because he isn’t sure what methods were used to obtain the information and whether the data still could be used.
Nevertheless, Dr. Matthew Johnson of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center says the aging data “absolutely holds promise” for a possible alcoholism treatment, because the collected data showed that 59 percent of patients who received a full dose of LSD curbed their drinking habits.
Johnson is studying whether psilocybin—the active hallucinogen that’s in mushrooms—could be used to curb smoking. He says finding financing for such studies is difficult because of the stigma that’s attached to illegal drugs.
Although he encourages further research on the issue, Johnson says he doubts that LSD will be a cure-all for alcoholism because of the wide array of effects that it can have on different people.
“It’s not a magic bullet,” he says. “Obviously, it’s not going to be appropriate for everyone.”