LSD and Alcoholism

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Wire desk tidy full of coloured pencilsIt is not uncommon for individuals who struggle with addiction to jump between different substances.

Because the root nature of addiction results from multiple factors, including environmental triggers, biological predisposition, family history, etc., an addict may find that their behaviors and tendencies may persist and evolve into a different substance of choice.

For these reasons, a struggling addict may find himself or herself abusing more than one drug or substance, including alcohol. Similarly, people who have practiced sobriety or abstinence of one drug may find themselves drawn or addicted to another drug. This can continue in a vicious cycle if the underlying causes contributed to addiction are not appropriately dealt with.

Using Drugs to Help with Abuse

What about drugs or substances that may help an individual overcome a severe addiction, such as alcoholism? This is the interesting relationship that is being researched, explored, and investigated by scientists. While it may seem counter-productive to introduce a drug for the purpose of overcoming addition, some medical interventions doing such have helped addicts overcome their struggle with substance abuse.

Alcoholism is a reality that countless individuals face around the world, which often results in devastating consequences for the abuser, families and loved ones. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over 16 million adults ages 18 and older had an alcohol use disorder in 20131. Tragically, alcohol misuse and abuse is a global issue, contributing to the firth leading risk factor for premature death and disability1.

Starting Treatment ASAP

College LonlinessWith these startling numbers and statistics, finding and accessing early intervention and professional treatment is necessary. Treatment for alcoholism often involves a combination of medical intervention, medical nutrition therapy, psychotherapy, and pharmacotherapy (or the use of pharmaceuticals).

It is in fact the combination of these interventions that help a person successfully overcome alcoholism, along with dedication and commitment to the process.

LSD for Treating Alcoholism

One interesting treatment technique that has recently been studied is the use of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) as a means of assisting individuals who are recovering from alcoholism. LSD is a hallucinogen and psychedelic drug, which alters a person’s reality and their ability to clearly think and perceive. The usage of LSD can influence many negative consequences, including visual/audible hallucinations, increased anxiety, severe mood swings, nausea, numbness, loss of appetite, and more.

Many may question how an illicit drug with the potential to induce so many negative consequences could possible help assist a person recovering from alcoholism. Some of the potential benefits of LSD for a person struggling with alcohol abuse are still being investigated.

However, preliminary research has found that small doses of LSD may help alcoholics sustain abstinence for up to six months, with regular small doses of the drug helping a person achieve lifelong control over detrimental drinking habits2.

Finding the Right Treatment for Each Individual

couple-405746_640When looking at treatment methods, it is also best to see what is evidenced-based and what has been proven effective by research time and time again. Unfortunately, the use of LSD as a treatment method for alcoholism has not been studied sufficiently in research, nor has it been proven as an effective form of treatment. Therefore, this connection should be heeded cautiously as there are still many unknowns to this relationship and potentially negative consequences that may develop.

As always, treatment for alcoholism should be guided and supervised by a professional treatment team who is qualified and specialized in recovery from substance abuse. Applying evidenced based treatments to the recovery process can help assist and enable an addict towards recovery and healing.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Have you or a person you known struggled with an addiction to LSD and alcohol? What treatment approaches did you find helpful in recovering from these addictions? What about alcoholism complicated the addiction to LSD and vice versa?


  1. SAMHSA. 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Table 5.8A—Substance Dependence or Abuse  in the Past Year among Persons Aged 18 or Older, by Demographic Characteristics: Numbers in Thousands, 2012 and 2013.
  2. Carhart-Harris, Robin L. et al. “Neural Correlates of the Psychedelic State as Determined by fMRI Studies with Psilocybin.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109.6 (2012): 2138–2143. PMC. Web. 20 July 2015.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 8th, 2015
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