The impact of psychedelics on patients with alcohol use disorder: a systematic review with meta-analysis

Dakota Sicignano, Adrian V. Hernandez, Benjamin Schiff, Nawal Elmahy, C. Michael White*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Critique the available systematic review and de novo assessment of the role of psychedelics in the treatment of alcohol use disorder. Methods: A systematic literature search of PubMed was completed from 1960 to 9/9/2023. We pooled randomized controlled trials comparing psychedelics to control therapy for the treatment of alcohol use disorder. Results: At the first recorded follow-up, LSD [n = 3, Odds Ratio (OR) 1.99 (95% Confidence interval (CI): 1.10 to 3.61)] and any psychedelic [n = 4, OR 2.16 (95%CI: 1.26 to 3.69)] enhanced the odds of patients achieving abstinence or a substantial reduction in drinking alcohol versus placebo in randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. When the inclusion criteria were relaxed to include controlled trials without double-blinding or placebo control, LSD [n = 5, OR 1.79 (95%CI: 1.36 to 2.34)] and any psychedelic therapy [n = 6, OR 1.89 (95%CI: 1.42 to 2.50)] still enhanced the odds of patients achieving abstinence or a substantial reduction in drinking alcohol. Four of 6 trials had high risk of bias and other methodological issues. One trial found an instance of suicidal ideation as well as transient increases in blood pressure that requires further exploration before the balance of benefits to harms can be determined. Conclusions: The use of psychedelics to treat alcohol use disorder is promising, but the weaknesses in the literature base preclude making definitive statements about its value. Future trials with greater methodological rigor are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-302
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Medical Research and Opinion
Volume40
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Keywords

  • LSD
  • alcohol use disorder
  • meta-analysis
  • psilocybin

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