Most of the early research into LSD was done so for the investigation of its use for treating substance abuse disorders, specifically alcoholism. Humphry Osmond was an English Psychiatrist and a pioneer in the field of psychedelic research, in fact, he was the one who coined the term “psychedelic” (meaning mind-manifesting, or mind-revealing). During the 1950s, Osmond noticed that some individuals were only able to give up drinking after an episode of delirium tremens, and attempted to replicate this state in patients by giving them high doses of LSD. This came to be known as the psychedelic treatment model, and he claimed to have achieved a fifty-percent success rate.
One of Osmond’s patients during this time was Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. However, Bill W. hoped to recapture a mystical state of consciousness that he had experienced, years earlier, without a drug, highlighting the potential for LSD to enable spiritual insight, rather than a delirium tremens type of experience. Today, psilocybin (the main psychoactive compound found in magic mushrooms), is being explored for the treatment of alcoholism, with one study finding levels of abstinence increasing significantly following psilocybin administration. This highlights the need for further research and controlled trials with psychedelics, with larger sample sizes, to investigate efficacy and mechanisms.