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LSD Could Be Used To Treat Depression And Alcoholism, Study Finds

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Science Photo Library - PASIEKA. via Getty Images
Science Photo Library - PASIEKA. via Getty Images

Turn on, tune in, drop out ... of your depression, that is.

According to a recent study, lysergic acid diethylamide, more commonly known as LSD or acid, could potentially be used to treat depression and alcoholism.

Long viewed as the drug of hippies and the counterculture of the 1960s, the hallucinogenic drug seems to be getting a better reputation, at least in the scientific community. There has been a resurgence of medical interest in LSD and psilocybin, the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms," after several recent trials produced positive results for conditions ranging from depression to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Early results from the 20-person trial are said to be “very promising” and show that psychoactive drugs like LSD could help reverse addictive thought patterns or negative thinking.

In the study, 20 healthy volunteers who had previous experience with LSD were injected with a “moderate” dose of the drug before having their brain activity scanned. The dose triggered significant effects, altering brain activity, mood, and the overall mental state of the volunteers. (In terms of "bad" effects, three out of the 20 suffered through some anxiety and short-lived paranoia.)

A previous study by the same team illustrated that psilocybin decreased blood flow to certain “hub structures” in the brain, meaning that closely linked brain areas became more loosely connected. The scientists believe that this could potentially show how psilocybin helps patients overcome conditions such as depression, addiction and PTSD, where patterns of thought become so ingrained they are very hard to reverse.

The team is planning a new psilocybin study in patients with depression, due to start in May.

Professor David Nutt, the leader of the LSD study, says that patients are not able to access such recreational and illegal drugs due to laws and prohibition. Additionally, in most cases, there are strict regulations on even researching recreational drugs.

After being unable to secure adequate funding to complete the latest LSD study analysis, Nutt and his colleagues at Imperial College London attempted to raise approximately C$48,000 (£25,000) through a crowd-funding site. As of this article's writing, the team has surpassed their goal.

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