04 Sep Psychedelics Drugs May Treat Addiction
Psychedelic and hallucinogenic drugs have been around for thousands of years. People around the world have long used naturally occurring psychedelics as aids to spiritual and religious rituals. In modern times, some people have used them to recreate that ancient spirituality, while others use them just to experience a psychedelic trip. These drugs have never been considered to be very harmful or addictive when compared to other substances and now they may even play a role in treating addiction.
LSD and Alcoholism
Researchers first looked into using LSD, also known as acid, to help treat alcoholics in the 1960s. LSD is not a natural hallucinogen, but it is based on one. Scientists first created it in a laboratory in the 1930s. The structure was based on a compound found in fungus that attacks grains. In the past this fungus has contaminated grain supplies and caused psychedelic effects in people that ate the grain.
Modern researchers have looked back at the work of scientists in the 1960s to analyze the data collected. For decades, research using psychedelic drugs has been taboo. Today it is beginning to become acceptable again to work with these substances for psychiatric research. The data from the 1960s involve results from 536 participants given doses of LSD to treat their addictions to alcohol. They found that 59 percent of those alcoholics given LSD cut back on drinking significantly. Only 38 percent of those given a placebo were able to cut back successfully.
When this research was conducted originally, the studies were too small to draw conclusions. Taking them together now, and looking at all the results together, modern researchers can conclude that LSD was effective in helping many people stop or slow their drinking. The participants took LSD just once, and the researchers believe that it was just as effective for treating alcoholism as a daily dose of naltrexone, a modern medication for treating alcoholism.
Magic Mushrooms and Addiction
Another psychedelic drug is also showing promise in addiction research. Called the magic mushroom, the drug under study is a compound found in certain mushrooms, called psilocybin. As with other hallucinogens like LSD, research using psilocybin has been controversial. It is only in the last few years that researchers are picking up where others left off in the 1950s and 1960s.
Some medical researchers are already seeing great promise in using psilocybin to relieve anxiety in terminal cancer patients. Studies using psilocybin to treat addiction are more recent, but are also exciting. In a few small groups of volunteers, it seems to help people stop using drugs or alcohol. Researchers need to do more work in order to clarify the results and demonstrate them in larger groups of participants.
No Miracle Cure
Although it would be nice to have one, there is still no single cure for addiction. Psychedelic drugs are not going to be that cure either. The researchers involved in working with psychedelics and addicts urge caution when thinking about any new treatment method as a cure. The evidence suggests that LSD and psilocybin can help addicts, not cure them.
There is great potential for these drugs to be used in conjunction with other treatment techniques. Specifically, the evidence shows that the psychedelic effects may help make people more open to therapy. They could help treat addiction by enhancing traditional therapy sessions. The drugs are not meant to be used alone or to be prescribed to addicts. The research is still evolving, but right now the future looks bright for one day using psychedelic substances to help addicts heal.
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