Cessation and reduction in alcohol consumption and misuse after psychedelic use

J Psychopharmacol. 2019 Sep;33(9):1088-1101. doi: 10.1177/0269881119845793. Epub 2019 May 14.


Background: Meta-analysis of randomized studies using lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) for alcohol use disorder (AUD) showed large, significant effects for LSD efficacy compared to control conditions. Clinical studies suggest potential anti-addiction effects of LSD and mechanistically-related classic psychedelics for alcohol and other substance use disorders.

Aims: To supplement clinical studies, reports of psychedelic use in naturalistic settings can provide further data regarding potential effects of psychedelics on alcohol use.

Methods: An anonymous online survey of individuals with prior AUD reporting cessation or reduction in alcohol use following psychedelic use in non-clinical settings.

Results: 343 respondents, mostly White (89%), males (78%), in the USA (60%) completed the survey. Participants reported seven years of problematic alcohol use on average before the psychedelic experience to which they attributed reduced alcohol consumption, with 72% meeting retrospective criteria for severe AUD. Most reported taking a moderate or high dose of LSD (38%) or psilocybin (36%), followed by significant reduction in alcohol consumption. After the psychedelic experience 83% no longer met AUD criteria. Participants rated their psychedelic experience as highly meaningful and insightful, with 28% endorsing psychedelic-associated changes in life priorities or values as facilitating reduced alcohol misuse. Greater psychedelic dose, insight, mystical-type effects, and personal meaning of experiences were associated with a greater reduction in alcohol consumption, controlling for prior alcohol consumption and related distress.

Conclusions: Although results cannot demonstrate causality, they suggest that naturalistic psychedelic use may lead to cessation or reduction in problematic alcohol use, supporting further investigation of psychedelic-assisted treatment for AUD.

Keywords: Psychedelics; alcohol; hallucinogens; lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD); psilocybin.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / drug therapy*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethanol / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Hallucinogens / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Mysticism / psychology
  • Psilocybin / therapeutic use*
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Substance-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Hallucinogens
  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • Psilocybin
  • Ethanol
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide