How Founder of AA Wanted To Use LSD To Get People Off Alcohol

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It may sound shocking, but the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) believed that LSD could be used therapeutically to cure alcoholism. In fact, he even credited the drug with his own recovery, as well as relief from what had been often debilitating depression.

It was only around 20 years after he helped set up the Ohio-based sobriety movement in 1935, that Bill Wilson became convinced LSD could help “cynical alcoholics” achieve what he termed a “spiritual awakening” and start them down the path of recovery.

Don Lattin, the author of a book put out by the University of California Press, entitled Distilled Spirits, said that he found letters and documents revealing that Wilson at first struggled with the idea, and then fully embraced the therapeutic use of LSD.

Wilson took his first trip at the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital in Los Angeles on 29 August 1956. He soon decided that it was insight, not terror, that he was experiencing in the LSD trips. He became convinced that these experiences could help alcoholics recover.

It was all simply a matter of finding “a power greater than ourselves” that “could restore us to sanity”.

Still, he continued, “I don’t believe [LSD] has any miraculous property of transforming spiritually and emotionally sick people into healthy ones overnight. It can set up a shining goal on the positive side, after all it is only a temporary ego-reducer.”

“The vision and insights given by LSD could create a large incentive – at least in a considerable number of people.”

According to Pass It On, published in 1984 by AA World Services in New York, the 12-step organization was totally against his promotion of the substance. “As word of Bill’s activities reached the fellowship there were inevitable repercussions. Most AAs were violently opposed to his experimenting with a mind-altering substance. LSD was then totally unfamiliar, poorly researched, and entirely experimental – and Bill was taking it.”

LSD was first synthesized in 1938. For many years it was unscheduled and used in the field of psychiatry for therapy, coupled with counseling. Contrary to popular belief it is actually non-addictive, even though it is an incredibly powerful hallucinogen. Could Wilson have been onto something? Or was he just tripping?

(Article by Ari Simeon)

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