Norwegian researchers studying the results of studies conducted more than 40 years ago say there is convincing evidence that the powerful psychedelic LSD should be re-examined as an option for treatment against addiction and other mental conditions.
The researchers examined six different studies of LSD and alcoholism that were scientifically sound by today’s standards, in which patients were randomly assigned, as if by tossing a coin, to receive either LSD or a comparison treatment. They combined all the data from these studies, involving a total of 536 people. They contend that, to date, this is the most comprehensive study of these experiments conducted from 1966 until 1970.
In the studies some of the alcoholic patients were given a large dose of the drug on one treatment day and some patients were given a small dose of LSD, while control patients received a low dose of LSD or a stimulant drug — or nothing.
“In independent and standardized follow-up examinations, ranging from one to twelve months later, all of the studies showed that the patients who had received a full dose of LSD fared the best. On average, 59 per cent of full-dose patients showed a clear improvement compared with 38 per cent in the other groups,” say Teri Krebs and Pål-Ørjan Johansen, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
By 1971, LSD was banned for non-medical use. Although the drug was and is still permitted as an experimental medical treatment, it became increasingly difficult to conduct clinical trials. Despite the promising studies, LSD was claimed to have no demonstrated medical use. There may be several reasons for this, the researchers explained.
In an era when 10 percent of all Americans are taking prescription antidepressants and more battling various forms of addiction, Krebs and Johansen are among a growing number of mental health professionals advocating research of unconventional psychological treatments.