Abstract of “The Use of Hallucinogens in the Treatment of Addiction”

Autumn 1996 Vol. 06, No. 4 An Invitation for Dialogue

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Halpern, J.H. , The Use of Hallucinogens in the Treatment of Addiction. Addiction Research 1996, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp 177-189.

A Recently published paper on the topic of psychedelics:


Research into treating drug dependence with hallucinogens, although promising, ended with questions still unanswered because of varying, in some cases skeptical, methodology and insufficient adherence to a double-blind, placebo-controlled design. Interest is again emerging, especially with the recent patenting in the United States of ibogaine for its apparent anti-craving properties. A review of the literature shows that these properties may be present across the entire family of hallucinogens. Potential efficacy may be tied to their agonism and antagonism at specific serotonin receptor sites. After the administration of a hallucinogen, there is a positive “afterglow” lasting weeks to months which might be extended through repeated dosing. Ibogaine and LSD both have lengthy periods of action, making their application unwieldy. However, tryptamines, such as N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), are so short-acting that they could easily be administered in an office setting. With numerous hallucinogens yet to be tested, a hallucinogen might well be discovered with superior anti-craving properties and a non-deleterious side-effect profile.

KEYWORDS: LSD, Ibogaine, N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), Therapeutic Use, Drug Dependence, Serotonin

John H. Halpern, M.D., resident at Harvard Medical School, can be contacted at jhalpern@warren.med.harvard.edu