For those who are not aware, April 19 is Bicycle Day. On this day in 1943, Dr. Alfred Hoffman first took LSD intentionally. He injected himself with 250 µg of the drug and, due to his fear of the side effects, rode his bike back to his lab. On his ride home Hoffman experienced the effects of LSD, making it the first acid “trip.” All of this was recorded in his book LSD: My Problem Child.
Recently, scientists have dug up studies from the 1960’s that consisted of six surveys of more than 500 patients, the majority of them male, and came to the conclusion that dropping acid could indeed be the answer to excessive drinking.
According to the study, on average 59 percent of LSD patients and 38 percent of control patients had improved from their initial exam, based on a standardized assessment of problem alcohol use. However, the suppression of the desire to drink only lasted six months after the treatment, though the result suggests that regular treatments using LSD could lead to a sustained benefit.
So why does this drug seemingly work so well on compulsive drinking?
“LSD may stimulate the formation of new connections and patterns, and generally seems to open an individual to an awareness of new perspectives and opportunities for action,” researchers said in a university statement. “We do not yet fully know why LSD works this way.”
While it seems that the drug does help regulate the issue of excessive drinking, it is hard to ignore its negative effects. It is highly unpredictable how the user will be affected. Physically, it can cause dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea, numbness and tremors. Mentally, there is a dramatic effect on the senses. Colors, smells and sounds are intensified and sometimes lead to a phenomenon known as synesthesia, during which a person sees sounds and hears colors. Bad trips could induce terrifying thoughts and nightmarish feelings of anxiety and despair that include fears of insanity, loss of control or death.
The after-effects of the drug, which are shown through results of the studies regarding alcoholism, can also leave the user with the inability to recognize reality, think rationally or communicate with others. This ultimately leads to producing a long-lasting psychotic-like state that could progress into profound depression or dramatic mood swings.
Does the possibility that LSD can help alcoholics step away from the bottle outweigh the potentially destructive effects the drug has?
More research needs to be done to see if the end justifies the means. In the meantime, go enjoy a bicycle ride.