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LSD: A Friend of Bill

Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), is well-known for inventing the 12-step program that has assisted millions of people in overcoming their alcohol addiction. However, many people are unaware that Wilson had a firsthand experience with the hallucinogenic substance LSD, which he believed had the ability to help those who were addicted.


Wilson had his first encounter with LSD in 1956 when he was given the substance by eminent psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Cohen, who was looking into the psychedelics' therapeutic potential. Wilson had doubts about the substance at first, but after using it, he claimed to have had a profound spiritual experience that, in his opinion, gave him insight into the nature of addiction and the significance of a spiritual element in recovery.


In a letter to Dr. Sidney Cohen in 1956, Wilson wrote:

"I am convinced that LSD, used responsibly and with proper caution, would be for some alcoholics a step toward recovery."

The letter can be found in the book "The Good Book: The Letters of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob" He believed that LSD had the potential to help alcoholics access a deeper understanding of themselves and their addiction, which could lead to lasting change.


However, Wilson's views on LSD were not widely accepted by the AA community, and his experimentation with the drug was not well-received. Some members of AA felt that Wilson's promotion of LSD was a distraction from the main focus of the program, which was abstinence from alcohol. Others were concerned about the potential negative consequences of AA being associated with LSD use.


Despite this, Wilson persisted in his belief that LSD had the ability to aid those struggling with addiction, and he even recommended that the AA group take into account undertaking research on the use of psychedelics in treatment. His recommendations were ignored, nevertheless, and LSD was not formally included in the AA program.


In the end, Bill Wilson's LSD experiments were a small part of his life and legacy as the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Nonetheless, it's an interesting and lesser-known chapter in AA's history, and it emphasizes the idea that even the most traditional and well-established treatments can adapt and alter with time.

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