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“Some Reflections on the Possible Therapeutic Effects of the Hallucinogens with Special Reference to Alcoholism”.
The author discusses his experience with LSD and mescaline given on about one hundred occasions to alcoholics and on three occasions taken by himself. . The following effects of the hallucinogenic drugs were believed to be of importance in treatment of alcoholics: 1. The effects of LSD and mescaline in some respects resembled delirium tremens. 2. In some cases previously repressed material was released. 3. The effects of the drugs often resembled a state of religious conversion. . Preliminary psychotherapy was of great importance. In many cases both LSD and mescaline produced something resembling the initial phase of emotional conflict and high tension and a later phase of self- assurance. Of note was the fact that in some cases responding to this treatment there was increased readiness to accept unpleasant aspects of their personality without loss of self-esteem. Their conflicts were therefore handled in a more constructive way. In addition, both drugs created in many individuals a remarkable sense of tranquility and closeness to other people. This facilitated resolution of ambivalent feelings toward others and enabled a more satisfactory relationship with them. Such patients may become unusually dependent upon the therapist and this dependency requires the therapist to handle countertransference with great care. . In using LSD and mescaline, the author usually began by trying to form a relationship with the patient and to pin-point the main problem during the first few weeks. The drugs were then given and an attempt was made to carry out a prolonged therapeutic interview while the patient was under the influence of the drug. The use of suggestion while under the influence of the drugs was avoided except for strongly urging the patient to discontinue drinking. By the next day, the material which emerged was re-examined and within a few more days in the hospital, the patient was discharged. No ther treatment for the alcoholism was given except for drugs and psychotherapy as outlined above. A typical successful case is cited. . Treatment should always be carried out in the hospital and the patient never left alone while under the influence of LSD or mescaline. Actual or borderline psychotics should probably be excluded, as should patients who are severely depressed or acutely anxious. . It is concluded that LSD and mescaline are effective in producing a conversionlike experinece in some people. Whether they will prove to be of long-term value requires further carefully controlled clinical trials.
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