LSD (or D-lysergic acid diethylamide) is one of the most powerful hallucinogen and mood changing chemicalsaround today. This clear or white, odorless and slightly bitter substance is made from lysergic acid found in a fungus called ergot that grows on rye and other grains. Commonly called Acid, Blotter, Dots and Yellow Sunshine, this drug is produced in crystalline form and then mixed with excipients, or diluted as a liquid for production in ingestible forms.
LSD’s Infamous History Has Led to Its Ban in the U.S.
Originally introduced as a therapeutic medication, LSD later became associated with the counter-culture of the 1960s. The federal government banned it in 1966, as it was found to have no legitimate benefit potential. While LSD is not considered to be physically addictive and use is rather uncommon relative to other drugs today,there is a small percentage of the population that continues to useit. In fact, recent statistics show a slight increase in this drug’s popularity.
While LSD is not considered an addictive drug (that is, it doesn’t cause uncontrollable drug-seeking behavior in users), it does produce “tolerance,”which means that users who take the drug repeatedly must take higher and higher doses in order to achieve a similar effect to what was originally experienced. This is an extremely dangerous practice, given the unpredictability of the drug. In addition, LSD produces a similar tolerance to several other hallucinogens.1
American Adolescents Have a Growing Interest in LSD
Use of most drugs, other than marijuana, has either stabilized or declined over the past decade, but LSD use is making a comeback. A recent survey revealed that 1.3 million Americans age 12 or older (0.5 percent of the U.S. population) had used LSD or other hallucinogen in the past month.While LSD use is nowhere near epidemic proportions in the U.S., this powerful drug is still attractive to a significant portion of America’s youth today.2
HistoricallyBad Reputation of LSD Limited Its Medical Exploration
When President Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act, most psychedelic drugs were put on Schedule 1. (This means that they were prohibited from being used for any purpose.) Research came to a halt, and what had been learned by research was all but erased from U.S. records.
Historically popular as a recreational drug, some people over the years have suggested that LSD – often referred to by the brand name Delysid– could expand consciousness and enhance spirituality. While some have continued to contend that it has potential benefits for medical and psychiatric use, the reputation of LSD as strictly an illicit recreational drug translated to many researchers being leery of advocating use or even conducting research into the drug. For many years, funding for research on practical uses for LSD was extremely difficult to obtain.3
Recent Study on LSD Holds Unusual Connection to the Past
The results of the first LSD study approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 40 years have put the drug’s potential medical benefits back in the spotlight.Picking up where the medical community left off in the ‘60s, scientists recently investigated the effects of LSD-assisted therapy on terminally ill patients approaching death. The findings of this controlled study, published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, showed that LSD paired with psychotherapy alleviated end-of-life anxiety in patients suffering from terminal illnesses.4
“I’m personally biased in favor of these type of studies,” commented Thomas R. Insel, a neuroscientist and director of the National Institute of Mental Health. “If it proves useful to people who are really suffering, then we should look at it,” notes Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Just because it is a psychedelic drug shouldn’t necessarily disqualify it in our eyes, she adds.
The idea of giving a psychedelic drug to the dying isn’t something totally new; it was conceived of by novelist Aldous Huxley in The Doors of Perception in 1954. In that book, Huxley proposed a research project involving the administration of LSD to terminal cancer cases in the hope that it would make dying a more spiritual experience and a less starkly physiological process.3
Landmark Breakthrough Came in a 2006 Johns Hopkins Study
In 2006, the journal Psychopharmacology published a landmark article by Roland Griffiths, a psychopharmacologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, titled “Psilocybin Can Occasion Mystical-Type Experiences Having Substantial and Sustained Personal Meaning and Spiritual Significance.” (Psilocybin, like LSD, has the ability to produce hallucinogenic effects.)
The significance of this 2006 paper went far beyond its findings. The journal invited several prominent drug researchers and neuroscientists to comment on the study, and all of them treated it as a convincing case for further research. Herbert Kleber, of Columbia University, applauded the paper and acknowledged that “major therapeutic possibilities” could result from further psychedelic research studies, some of which “merit National Institute of Health support.”
In exploring the use of psychedelic drugs in treating people with drug addictions, a recent Johns Hopkins study reported that a test population received hallucinogenics in two or three sessions, as well as cognitive-behavioral therapy, to help them deal with drug cravings. They found that the psychedelic experience seemed to allow many research subjects to reframe and then go on to break a lifelong habit. Volunteers who reported having a more complete “mystical experience” had greater success in breaking their drug addiction. Many terminally ill subjects also described an encounter with their disease that had the effect of diminishing its power over them.
Furthermore, while the recreational use of psychedelics is famously associated with instances of psychosis, flashback and suicide, such adverse effects did not surface in the trials of drugs at N.Y.U. and Johns Hopkins. After nearly five hundred administrations of psilocybin, the researchers reported no serious negative effects.3
Brave New Frontiers Are Being Explored by Medical Scientists Today
Perhaps the most ambitious effort involving the scientific mystery of the psychedelic experience has been taking place in a lab based at Imperial College in London. A young neuroscientist by the name of Robin Carhart-Harris has been injecting healthy volunteers with psilocybin and LSD and then using a variety of scanning tools – including MRI and magnetoencephalography – to observe what happens in their brains. His research is being conducted in the laboratory of David Nutt, a psychopharmacologist who once served as the drug-policy adviser to the Labour Department in Great Britain.3
How Can People Safely Receive Treatment for LSD Abuse?
As there are no government-approved medications to treat those who abuse LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs, it is clear that more research is needed for a deeper understanding.1
We invite you to call us on our 24/7 toll-free line to discuss the current findings and best drug treatment options. With considerable depth of knowledge and experience in the treatment of LSD abuse, our approach to handling drug addictions and mental disorders has been documented and applauded by more than ten independent studies. A drug crisis is not a time to fool around. So, place your trust in people who have demonstrated remarkable success in this field. As with other physicians, our services are patient-specific and totally confidential. We can even help you determine how much your current insurance plan will cover. We care…one person at a time.
1“DrugFacts: Hallucinogens”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens , (January 2016).
2DrugFacts: Nationwide Trends”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends , (June 2015).
3 “The Trip Treatment”, The New Yorker, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/09/trip-treatment , (February 9, 2015).
4“First LSD Study in 40 Years Shows Promising Medical Uses”, The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/06/lsd-anxiety-study-psychotherapy-_n_4906596.html, (March 6, 2014).