Lysergic acid diethylamide as a variable in the hospital treatment of alcoholism. A follow-up study
By Bowen WT, Soskin RA, Chotlos JW
Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 1970.

Reviewed by Alex Pearlstein

The purpose of this retrospective is to examine the success of the patients that were treated for alcoholism with LSD vs. a standard treatment practice and what was the short term and long term after-effects from treatment. Initial studies boasted a success rate of 49% or more of cases of alcoholism treated using LSD psychotherapy. This study looked to review this methodology of treatment and the patient's current state of being well after treatment was considered successful.

Two separate experiments were designed for this study with a larger focus on not only the initial success but, the long term results. Experiment I involved a comparison of the adjustment status after 1 year of 41 alcoholics who received LSD in addition to a human relations training program, with 40 alcoholics who went through the training program without exposure to LSD. Experiment II involves a comparison of 22 alcoholics who received the accepted therapeutic dosage of LSD with two control groups, one of which consisted of 22 patients who received placebo dosage of LSD (25 micrograms as opposed to the 500 microgram treatment dosage) and, a second control group of 15 patients who did not take LSD, but completed the same training program with the other patients identified above. All of the patients were male veterans who had volunteered for the treatment program.

This study also looked at the success of when LSD is introduced into the training program. Some patients were given the Human Relations training; then during the final stages of the course LSD was introduced. This was opposed to patients who were given LSD during the initial phases of the training. This helps us to understand better how to proceed with LSD psychotherapy and how to build a proper foundation on which the LSD psychotherapy can interact with the patient thorough better understanding of the goals of the training, as well as their ability to self-analyze their behavior, expectation and absorption of the training while under the influence of LSD.

I feel that the following paragraph is extremely noteworthy:
"It is worthwhile to consider what it is about the LSD reaction that inspires such great enthusiasm for it as a treatment method among so many of those who are familiar with it's effects. The answer, we feel, is that very real and dramatic personality changes are frequently observed to occur over the short term. 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."

The findings of this study not only reflected the success rates of LSD psychotherapy in treating alcoholism, but reveals any additional changes in patients' mental states of being. It was found that the patients treated with LSD were showing more ease in social relationships, a more positive sense of self and ego, reduced depression, and a greater sense of purpose in their lives. While these positive changes (not a return to alcoholism but the additional changes in sense of self) seemed to dissipate a year after treatment, it is proposed that a positive environment could prove more conducive to retaining these life affirming ideals as well as the retrospectives learned during treatment. It is also put forth that a repeated LSD experience could promote more profound changes in the direction of psychological health, as all of the patients in this study were exposed to LSD only once during their treatment.

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