Tripping Your Way to Sobriety

ByABC News
October 16, 2006, 11:04 AM

Oct. 16, 2006 — -- Imagine this.

You are hooked on alcohol and you want help getting off the booze.

You go to your doctor, and he or she says, "Drop some acid."

That's right. LSD, the infamous drug of choice for many hippies in the 1960s and '70s.

Lysergic acid diethylamide, the drug that caused hallucinations or "tripping," was, of course, outlawed, giving it immeasurable street cred in its time, before fading away as flower-painted bodies grew into gray-flannel suits.

So, in the 21st century, why would a respected medical doctor even consider prescribing LSD as a wonder drug to help cure alcoholism?

And will it actually happen?

The answer, like an LSD trip, is elusive, but some in the scientific and medical community are beginning to discuss the possible merits of acid for this generation.

Erika Dyck, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta, Canada, researches and teaches the history of medicine.

She raised the issue after studying a series of LSD tests of alcohol-addicted patients carried out in the 1960s in Saskatchewan. The tests were done by British psychiatrists Humphrey Osmond and John Smythies.

She tells ABC News that two-thirds of the alcoholics stopped drinking for at least 18 months after receiving one dose of LSD, compared to 25 percent who stopped after group therapy, and 12 percent after individual therapy.

According to Dyck, even Alcoholics Anonymous endorses the LSD research.

Alcoholics Anonymous "felt that one of the major obstacles to joining Alcoholics Anonymous was 'Step 2, admitting that there is a higher power.'"

Even the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, Dyck said, "felt that LSD was the first intervention that helped many people to reach this step."

According to Rick W in the organization's New York office, one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous "was supportive in a lot of ways in all kinds of research, so he might very well have written something in support. He also experimented with LSD himself."

Dyck told the Independent newspaper of London, "The LSD somehow gave these people experiences that psychologically took them outside of themselves and allowed them to see their own unhealthy [behavior] more objectively, and then determine to change it."