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.