A new paper titled, "Safety and Efficacy of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide-Assisted Psychotherapy for Anxiety Associated With Life-threatening Diseases," published yesterday (March 4, 2014), presents the findings of what is being called, "the first controlled trial of LSD in more than 40 years." This paper, published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, examined the effects of LSD-assisted psychotherapy on 12 patients suffering from life-threatening diseases. While the sample size was too small to draw any ironclad conclusions about the overall populace, the results indicate that, "when administered safely in a methodologically rigorous medically supervised psychotherapeutic setting, LSD can reduce anxiety [in terminally-ill patients.]" The researchers go on to state that, based on these findings, they believe, "larger controlled studies are warranted." These results may be unsurprising to people who have experienced the effects of LSD themselves or who are familiar with the clinical LSD research that was performed prior to criminalization in the mid-1960s. However, these findings add to the compelling evidence that LSD and other psychedelic compounds warrant the re-examination that has slowly been taking place over the past 20 years, under the heavy restrictions of drug prohibition.
It is worth noting that the findings of this particular study share similarities with a study that examined the effects of psilocybin on anxiety in patients with advanced-stage cancer. In both cases, patients not only reported subjective feelings of reduced anxiety, but also tested higher on an assortment of psychological tests designed to quantify these subjective experiences. This quantification and scientific "validation" of patient experiences, while perhaps extraneous to the subjective benefits experienced by the patients themselves, presents quantified evidence that appears to confirm what some advocates of psychedelics have known for decades; a psychedelic-induced change in perspective can offer long-term benefits in daily life. As anecdotal and folk knowledge are increasingly supplemented by scientific evidence, the case for psychedelic prohibition becomes weaker and weaker. With each study that demonstrates the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, their Schedule I classification becomes ever more absurd.
Perhaps most promising is the media coverage of this study. Articles have appeared in media outlets including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and even Forbes, devoid of the drug war propaganda that frequently accompanies headlines that include the letters "LSD." This serves to highlight the beneficial role that sanctioned psychedelic research plays, beyond generating the "hard evidence" that is of so much value within a scientific-rationalist, materialist paradigm. Sanctioned research presents the well-groomed, polished image of psychedelics to the world at large. In the PR war that is currently raging between prohibitionist drug warriors and society at large, the value of valid scientific studies, and the credibility and evidence they provide to the general public is tremendous.
At some point, we will all face death and the anxiety that accompanies it--in large part, owing to a materialist culture that denies, denounces, and reviles the very notion of death. An increasing number of studies demonstrate the positive effects psychedelics can have on the anxiety and fears associated with reconciling our own mortality and impending death. Isn't it comforting to know that there's something out there that can potentially help us make peace with this most natural of occurrences? To eschew and criminalize the utilization of such profoundly beneficial substances, especially in the face of impending death, over false claims about their safety or under the guise of appeals to some manufactured objective morality, is a criminal approach that adds to the unnecessary suffering of many of our fellow human beings. How many of us, as human beings, have loved ones who could have, or still might, potentially benefit from such a utilization of psychedelic therapy?
Take a look at the paper:
Abstract: A double-blind, randomized, active placebo-controlled pilot study was conducted to examine safety and efficacy of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)-assisted psychotherapy in 12 patients with anxiety associated with life-threatening diseases. Treatment included drug-free psychotherapy sessions supplemented by two LSD-assisted psychotherapy sessions 2 to 3 weeks apart. The participants received either 200µg of LSD (n = 8) or 20µg of LSD with an open-label crossover to 200µg of LSD after the initial blinded treatment was unmasked (n = 4). At the 2-month follow-up, positive trends were found via the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) in reductions in trait anxiety ( p = 0.033) with an effect size of 1.1, and state anxiety was significantly reduced ( p = 0.021) with an effect size of 1.2, with no acute or chronic adverse effects persisting beyond 1 day after treatment or treatment-related serious adverse events. STAI reductions were sustained for 12 months. These results indicate that when administered safely in a methodologically rigorous medically supervised psychotherapeutic setting, LSD can reduce anxiety, suggesting that larger controlled studies are warranted.
The full paper is avilable for open acces. Click here to view a PDF copy.