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Safety and Efficacy of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide-Assisted Psychotherapy for Anxiety Associated With Life-threatening Diseases

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Abstract

A double-blind, randomized, active placebo-controlled pilot study was conducted to examine safety and efficacy of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)-assisted psychotherapy in 12 patients with anxiety associated with life-threatening diseases. Treatment included drug-free psychotherapy sessions supplemented by two LSD-assisted psychotherapy sessions 2 to 3 weeks apart. The participants received either 200 mcg of LSD (n=8) or 20 mcg of LSD with an open-label crossover to 200 mcg of LSD after the initial blinded treatment was unmasked (n=4). At the 2-month follow-up, positive trends were found via the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) in reductions in trait anxiety (p=0.033) with an effect size of 1.1, and state anxiety was significantly reduced (p= 0.021) with an effect size of 1.2, with no acute or chronic adverse effects persisting beyond 1 day after treatment or treatment-related serious adverse events. STAI reductions were sustained for 12 months. These results indicate that when administered safely in a methodologically rigorous medically supervised psychotherapeutic setting, LSD can reduce anxiety, suggesting that larger controlled studies are warranted.

Gasser, P., Holstein, D., Michel, Y., Doblin, R., Yazar-Klosinski, B., Passie, T., & Brenneisen, R. (2014). Safety and Efficacy of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide-Assisted Psychotherapy for Anxiety Associated With Life-threatening Diseases. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 202, 1-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/NMD.0000000000000113
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