The Use of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) in the Treatment of Alcoholism

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According to previous research, alcohol contributes to about 4% of total mortality and is said to cause more harm overall than any other drug (Krebs and Johansen, 2012). Alcoholism often has major individual and social consequences for those that suffer with this addiction. Alcohol dependence is problematic to treat, and existing treatments are not effective in recovery of alcoholism for many patients (Krebs and Johansen, 2012).

            For at least 5,000 years, naturally occurring psychedelics have been used by humans (Bogenschutz and Forcehimes, 2016). Classic hallucinogens, for centuries, have been used ceremonially and religiously in a variety of different cultures. Members of religions that partake in consistent use of these hallucinogens as a part of their practice have shown decreased rates of alcoholism (Bogenschutz and Pommy, 2012). Classic hallucinogens, including psilocybin and lysergic acid diethylamide, are defined as drugs primarily exerting their central nervous system effects by an agonist action at serotonin 5-HT2A receptors (Bogenschutz and Pommy, 2012).

            Previous research using psychedelic treatment implemented either a “psycholytic” or a “psychedelic” model of treatment. The psycholytic method used to enhance the process of psychodynamic psychotherapy by increasing accessibility of unconscious material with low to moderate doses of hallucinogens. This method emphasizes resolution of traumatic experiences or childhood conflicts (Bogenschutz and Pommy, 2012; Bogenschutz et al., 2015). The psychedelic method used higher doses of hallucinogens, typically lysergic acid diethylamide, to induce a “mystical” experience of ego loss. Self-reports of this experience have included feelings of “unity, sacredness, ultimate reality, transcendence of time and space, deeply felt positive mood, and ineffability” (Bogenschutz et al., 2015)

            An increase in the serotonin 5HT2A receptor binding has been reported in people with psychiatric conditions such as depression, neuroticism, borderline personality disorder, impulsive aggression, and completed suicide. This 5HT2A receptor is rapidly decreased after a treatment using classic hallucinogens (Bogenschutz and Forcehimes, 2016). Multiple studies on the administration of hallucinogens, primarily lysergic acid diethylamide and psilocybin, had significant findings of improvement in patients up to 12 months (Bogenschutz et al., 2015). Patients commonly reported decreases in cravings along with feelings of self-acceptance, strong resolution to discontinue drinking, optimism, and improvements in their overall well-being and life satisfaction (Krebs and Johansen, 2012; Bogenschutz and Forcehimes, 2016). Some patients have reported nausea, confusion, or mild headaches following the administration of hallucinogens, however, these adverse effects resolved within 24 hours following treatment (Bogenschutz et al., 2015).




The study will include 22 participants with alcohol addiction and will be divided into two. 11 patients will be managed with hallucinogens, and particularly lysergic acid diethylamide and psilocybin and the other 11 will be treated with other drugs other than hallucinogens. The participants will be selected from a hospital in the ward that manages patients with alcohol addiction. The participants will be from both genders, but the women will not be pregnant to prevent interference with the development of the fetus. All of them has to be over the age of 18 years old. They have to participate freely and will sign a consent form before initiation of the study. Before any signing of the consent they will be educated on the procedures to be used and the relevance of the research. Patients with poor judgement and paranoia or any other sign of mental disorder will not be allowed to participate.


Anti-hallucinogens particularly lysergic acid diethylamide and psilocybin

Other drugs used in the management of the alcoholism

A personal computer for recording patients' progress and side effects

Drugs administration tools (injections, syringes, dry cotton, gloves, cups and water)

Infection control boxes and sharps container


Patients' judgement will be measured using various questions with a scenario where some actions can lead to harm and others would lead to safety. All the patients who would fil this test will not be allowed to proceed with the test because they need advanced treatment other than alcohol dependence. The type of the question asked will be determined by the level of education of the participants. Each patient will be asked three questions on judgment to ascertain that they have good judgement.

The other test will be on paranoia, and specific questions regarding patients' lives will be asked to determine whether they have thoughts of persecution and prejudice. Also, the patients' aggressiveness will also be on trial to determine whether they can bear to follow instructions. Participants who will be quick to anger and indulging in physical brutality will be excluded from the research.

The participants that will qualify will be introduced to their groups and started on therapy depending on the group he or she will be placed (case or control group). Control group will be put on lysergic acid diethylamide, and psilocybin and the control group will be managed using other methods of treatment. Participants will report any side effects experienced after consumption of the drug to the investigators. Also, after every weak patient's progress will be evaluated using the baseline data collected before the research begun. The procedure will continue for four weeks, and the participants will be assessed on the progress made. Interviews will be conducted to evaluated participant's attitude towards life, abandoning drinking behaviour as well as plans for the future. The data will be gathered, recorded, summarised and analyzed to enable the investigators to make inferences. The findings will also be compared with findings from other researchers.

Expected outcome

An independent sample t-test will be utilized to determine the difference between the findings of the two groups regarding recovery rate. The data of the patients will also be compared concerning gender within and outside the group. The hypothesis will be confirmed if the participants in the case (managed using (lysergic acid diethylamide and psilocybin) will have a significant improvement compared to the others in the control group.


Having summarized and evaluated collected data from the participants the results will be used to make inferences regarding the study. If the hypothesis will be confirmed it will be due to the effectiveness of the hallucinogen influencing the brain activities where serotonin hinders the production of 5HT2A (Dakwar, 2015). Since serotonin deals with relaying messages to the brain regarding the appetite, mood and other activities, the patient receives clear signals regarding functionality. The patient rarely develops withdrawal syndrome that can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts because of mood elevation (Jenkins, et al., 2016). Thus, once the patient has taken the medication for sometimes, it remains in the systems for more than a year, and hence chances of deteriorating are minimal. Once the patient has ceased drinking behavior, he or she cannot resume after the development of stable plans which he or she adopts as behavior.

Quite a significant number of patients have slow recovery due to the side effects of other medications used in the management of alcoholism. When patients become withdrawn and depressed, they can hardly see anything positive in life and hence they either reiterate to the drinking behavior, or they develop suicide ideation. Without proper group or individual therapies, some patients can attempt to take their lives. Some of the patients develop drug-induced psychosis as a result of the continuation of abusing drugs and hence they have to be managed using antipsychotics. Exposure of a patient to a psychiatry ward and the management of the drugs makes the patient more depressed and withdrawn (el-Guebaly, et al., 2015). Also, most of the patients with drug-induced and being managed in psychiatry ward they lived in denial and withdrawn from friends and relatives.


Bogenschutz, M. P., & Forcehimes, A. A. (2017;2016;). Development of a psychotherapeutic

            model for psilocybin-assisted treatment of alcoholism. Journal of Humanistic

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Bogenschutz, M. P., & Pommy, J. M. (2012). Therapeutic mechanisms of classic

 hallucinogens in the treatment of addictions: From indirect evidence to testable

 hypotheses. Drug Testing and Analysis, 4(7-8), 543-555. doi:10.1002/dta.1376

Bogenschutz, M. P. (2013). Studying the effects of classic hallucinogens in the treatment of

 alcoholism: Rationale, methodology, and current research with psilocybin. Current

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Bogenschutz, M. P., Forcehimes, A. A., Pommy, J. A., Wilcox, C. E., Barbosa, P., & Strassman,

R. J. (2015). Psilocybin-assisted treatment for alcohol dependence: A proof-of-

concept study. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 29(3), 289-299.


Krebs, T. S., & Johansen, P. (2012). Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) for alcoholism: Meta-

analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 26(7), 994-

1002. doi:10.1177/0269881112439253

Jenkins, T. A., Nguyen, J. C., Polglaze, K. E., & Bertrand, P. P. (2016). Influence of tryptophan and serotonin on mood and cognition with a possible role of the gut-brain axis. Nutrients, 8(1), 56.

Dakwar, E. (2015). Evaluating the Therapeutic Utility of Hallucinogens for Substance Use Disorders. Textbook of Addiction Treatment: International Perspectives, 713-730.

el-Guebaly, N., Carrà, G., & Galanter, M. (2015). Textbook of addiction treatment: international perspectives. Springer.


August 01, 2023



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