LSD patients who experienced profound feelings of cosmic unity
frequently developed a negative attitude toward the states of
mind produced by intoxication with alcohol and narcotics. In the
Spring Grove studies, where the number of LSD sessions was
restricted, there was a definite tendency among both alcoholics
and heroin addicts to discontinue their habit following a single
high-dose LSD session. In a more open-ended treatment situation
in the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, where it was
possible to administer serial LSD sessions, complete working
through of the perinatal material resulted in several instances
of lasting abstinence and deep restructuring of the alcoholic's
or addict's personality.
The insights of these patients concerning the nature of their habits resembled those of persons with suicidal tendencies. After they had discovered and experienced feelings of cosmic unity in their sessions, they realized that the state they had really been craving was transcendence and not drug intoxication. They recognized a certain superficial similarity and overlap between alcohol or heroin intoxication and the unitive feelings activated by LSD, and began to see that their desire to seek these drugs was based on confusing these two conditions. The elements that these states seem to have in common are the diminution or disappearance of various painful emotions and sensations, emotional indifference toward one's past and future, and an undifferentiated state of consciousness. On the other hand, however, many essential characteristics of the unitive state are not part of the experience of intoxication by alcohol or narcotics. Instead of inducing a state of cosmic consciousness in its entirety, these drugs produce a caricature that seems close enough to mislead the individual involved and seduce him or her into systematic abuse. Repeated administrations then lead to biological addiction and damage the user physically, emotionally, and socially.
After the experiences of ego death, abuse of alcohol or narcotics as well as suicidal tendencies are seen as tragic mistakes due to an unrec ognized and misunderstood spiritual craving for transcendence. The presence of strong feelings of this kind, as improbable as they might seem to those familiar with the behavior patterns and life-styles of addicts and alcoholics, can be illustrated by statistics from psychedelic therapy. In the Spring Grove research, alcoholics and heroin addicts had the highest incidence of mystical experiences of all the studied groups, including neurotics, mental health professionals, and individuals dying of cancer.