Stories about lysergic acid diethylamide’s (LSD) benefits have long been touted in the scientific research community studying psychedelics, but the story of one well-known author’s use of LSD, according to the San Jose Mercury, has become an anecdote for the benefits of using the chemical she states gave her relief from “crippling depression that had left her feeling suicidal.” Ayalet Waldman, a former federal public defender, an advocate for the reform of drug laws, and author of the book A Really Good Day, makes the case that the prohibition on psychedelic use, which includes LSD as well as psilocybin, a chemical found in certain mushrooms which has been studied for a variety of medical uses, and others should be lifted to allow people to have access to the life altering medicine these chemicals represent. Waldman’s tale of the benefits of LSD is just the latest in a long line of research establishing the efficacy of psychedelics in the treatment of some illnesses.
According to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), there is significant human experience in using LSD in the context of psychotherapy, and that research is still moving forward.
“From the 1950s through the early 1970s, psychiatrists, therapists, and researchers administered LSD to thousands of people as a treatment for alcoholism, as well as for anxiety and depression in people with advanced stage cancer. MAPS’ completed and future research conforms to modern drug development standards, and will help guide the development of additional research into the risks and benefits of LSD-assisted psychotherapy.”
It is important to note that Waldman’s use of LSD was in micro doses, as she used 10 micrograms of LSD every three days for an entire month. For reference, the San Jose Mercury says that the dose used was approximately 10 percent of a “recreational dose.” The tiny doses in the short period of one month was enough to inspire Waldman to write a book about the benefits of taking LSD.
That Waldman refers to psychedelics as a “potentially life-saving relief from depression, PTSD and addiction” is not hyperbole. Waldman’s courageously blunt assessment of her situation included that she was “suicidal,” followed by the honest note “if I didn’t try something I was afraid that I would either kill myself, or make my life not worth living.” Far from being a recreational user of LSD, Waldman saw the benefits of a chemical that actually saved her life in her time of depression.
However, as MAPS points out, the benefits of LSD also include the ability to catalyze spiritual or mystical experiences, which they argue is a legitimate point of research for LSD use. The doses that are generally associated with mystical experiences can be significantly higher than a micro dose. The same is true of doses used in some treatments for alcohol addiction.
It is equally important to point out that these doses were administered under strict clinical supervision, with the safety of the subject being closely monitored. Far from being simply a “trippy experience,” LSD could become a medicine to cure human illnesses. It is Waldman’s hope that psychedelics will be decriminalized, and that research on micro dosing will advance to the point where LSD is administered as a medicine. That research is critical because little is known about the long-term benefits and risks of micro doses of LSD.
As for further use, Waldman says that she no longer has LSD, nor access to it. Her life changing experience with the tiny doses and their benefits to her mental health gave her the hope that she could recover from her depression. In this context, LSD provides the user the benefits of the ability to reframe the world around them in a more positive light. A medicine that strong, and with so many benefits, is worthy of further research.
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