LSD: Therapeutic use

Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 4:54 pm

LSD has no officially recognized therapeutic value. However, its use as a therapeutic drug has a rich history. Early research with LSD suggested that it produces states similar to those experienced by people experiencing a type of severe psychiatric disturbance called psychosis, in which patients often hear voices that aren’t there, lose touch with reality, have disordered thinking, and experience paranoid thoughts. Mental health experts therefore tried taking LSD to see if it could help them understand their patients’ problems.
Soon after, it was also discovered that LSD appears to lower people’s inhibitions, making it easier for them to remember and talk about repressed thoughts and experiences. Under positive circumstances, it also promotes empathy among those present who are also taking the drug. These discoveries led mental health experts to give LSD to people with milder mental illnesses, such as depression, to see if it could speed up or improve the effects of psychotherapy. LSD was also used experimentally to help people recover from addiction to other drugs, particularly alcohol.
Despite early positive findings, it was concluded that an LSD high is actually quite different from a psychotic state and that the therapeutic effects as well as the safety of LSD are not certain. Of particular concern was the patient’s risk of having “bad trips,” which could be so severe as to cause lasting trauma, particularly in those with a history of psychiatric illness. The drug also developed a bad reputation in the 1960s as it gained popularity as a street drug of abuse. For these reasons and others, research into the Therapeutic use of LSD dropped off in the 1970s.

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