A psychiatrist writing in The New York Times today is taking on the trend of using the hallucinogenic drug LSD to combat depression, saying it is untested and possibly dangerous.
Who knew taking acid might be dangerous? Anybody who ever had a bad trip, possibly.
Richard A. Friedman is a professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College.
He is empathetic for the third of patients with major depression who get no relief from pharmaceuticals for whom hallucinogenics may offer some hope. A recent psilocybin study claims that the mushroom-derived hallucinogenic relieves anxiety and depression.
Then there are the anecdotal reports about microdoses of LSD, as well a book on the subject.
Friedman says LSD is an unregulated drug in which users can’t be sure what they are even taking.
He says it is also too early to say that taking these drugs is not habit-forming, as proponents suggest. And studies of hallucinogenics have long showed they can be debilitating behaviorally, with bad trips or flashbacks in recreational users, Friedman points out.
Though Friedman doesn’t address it in his column, there is also hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, which can affect users of LSD, MDMA, mushrooms and mescaline. One sufferer said he had been hallucinating that all trees sported human faces for two decades after one potent LSD trip.
“The bottom line is that we don’t know how safe or effective psychedelics are because most of the data have been anecdotal or from small trials,” Friedman writes.