Can You Use LSD to Stop Smoking
Can LSD trip help you quit smoking? The experiments conducted thus far, reveal a potential correlation between LSD and nicotine. They also indicate the possibilities in using LSD therapeutically for the treatment of addiction, mood disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For years, because of the illegalities governing the use of drugs like LSD, experimentation has been limited.
Table of Contents:
- Definition of LSD
- The Origin of LSD
- How LSD Affects the Brain
- Medical Uses of LSD
- LSD and Smoking Cessation
- Possible Side Effects of LSD
- What’s next for LSD?
What is LSD?
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, also known as LSD, or “acid”, is a psychedelic drug, or hallucinogens. It is a chemical substance which can induce hallucinations and other sensory disturbances. A person may experience induced states of altered perception, and heightened senses, but less control over themselves and their surroundings.
It is also one of the most potent, and can alter a person’s moods. LSD is the crystallized product of lysergic acid, which is found mainly in the ergot fungus which grows on rye and other grains. This drug is odorless, colorless, and bitter to the taste. It can also be easily converted to a liquid.
The History of LSD
Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist, was the first to ever synthesize LSD. He was also the first victim of the drug’s psychoactive effects after he accidentally ingested a small amount in 1943. The effects Hofmann reported experiencing were:
- a dreamlike state
- an extremely stimulated imagination
After his accidental ingestion, Hofmann ingested another dose, for his colleagues to document the effects. Their findings paved the way for deeper experimentation into the effects of LSD on the brain, and its efficacy in treating psychological disorders and addiction.
Effects of LSD on the Brain
The LSD molecule mimics the serotonin in the brain. The body ‘mistakes’ LSD for serotonin and transports it through the synapses. LSD is more susceptible to bonding with 5-HT receptors than with serotonin, thereby interrupting the transmission of neural messages by serotonin in the brain. Once the molecule is bound to the receptor proteins, the message is not carried any further. Instead, the impulse is redirected to the parts of the brain that deal with sense interpretation and motor skills.
The molecules of serotonin and LSD share many similarities, hence causing this process of ‘mistaken identity’. The most obvious being their similarity in structure, demonstrated in the diagram below.
Other similarities are:
- The density of the electrons within the most occupied molecular orbital is lowest in the areas around the indole ring in both molecules.
- The dipole moment of the two molecules is in very close proximity, measuring 2.98 debye for Serotonin and 3.04 debye for LSD, with the dipole moment in both molecules connecting towards NH2 or Amides.
These similarities are the reasons LSD imitates serotonin and causes psychedelic hallucinations.
Research conducted by Roth Labs revealed that when LSD latches on to a serotonin receptor, the LSD molecule locks into place because part of the receptor folds over the drug molecule, like a lid. It then stays in place until molecules pop off their receptors as the lid moves around, or brain cells respond to this strange molecule by sucking the receptor into the cell, where it, along with the LSD, is degraded or disassembled for recycling.
Medical Applications of LSD
LSD possesses the ability to summon subconscious thoughts and feelings, like repressed memories, fantasies, or deep fears. Herein lies its capabilities in the field of psychotherapy.
Microdosing is the practice of administering small doses of about 5-10 micrograms. These small doses are more manageable for the purpose of observing and studying the resulting effects. Usually, a low dose of around 20 micrograms can have intense psychological effects, hence the need for microdosing. Other commonly used doses may be around 30-150 micrograms.
LSD and Smoking Cessation
Thus far studies conducted have demonstrated the efficacy of LSD in the treatment of addiction. A recent analysis using a total of 536 participants within 6 studies, revealed findings that by applying a single dose of LSD in combination with frequently employed alcohol treatment programs, alcohol abuse decreased more rapidly than by employing alcohol treatment programs solely.
Further studies produced data demonstrating a strong correlation between LSD and smoking cessation. An online survey was conducted to establish a direct correlation between smoking cessation and naturalistic psychedelic use. The study was based on 358 individuals smoking an average of 14 cigarettes/day for 8 years, with five previous quit attempts. The details are as follows:
- 38% reported continuous smoking cessation after psychedelic use.
- 28% reported a reduction in smoking, from a mode of 300 cigarettes/month before, to a mode of 1 cigarette/month after the experience.
- 34% reported a temporary reduction in smoking during psychedelic use, only to return to their initial level afterward.
LSD vs. Mushrooms
A report released by Johns Hopkins researchers revealed that a minimal number of habitual smokers successfully quit after a carefully controlled and monitored regimen of psilocybin—the active hallucinogenic agent in mushrooms—in the context of a cognitive behavioral therapy treatment program. This was after many previous futile attempts to shake the habit.
For participants of the study, it was found that 80 percent were able to consistently abstain even after six months, proving the application of LSD to be more successful than typical methods in smoking cessation trials.
It is difficult to categorize the effects of any psychedelic drug like LSD (acid). A person’s initial perceptions, external stimulants, and dosage all influence this. Possible side effects of using LSD include, but are not limited to:
- Heightened senses
- Time distortion
- Reality Distortion
- Altered perception and speech
- Personal insight and reflection
Long-Term Effects of LSD
- Persistent Psychosis – visual disturbances, disorganized thinking, paranoia, and mood disturbances that continue long after the last use of the drug
- Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) – flashbacks
- LSD Dependence
LSD: The Way Forward
LSD studies have consistently shown success in treating smoking cessation and other disorders. Though funding for research is quite limited due it is illegalities, LSD is by far the most studied psychedelic. Data collected thus far is the result of ongoing work by non-profit organizations such as the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the Beckley Foundation, and the Heffter Research Institute.