“STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN”: LYSERGIC ACID DIETHYLAMIDE (LSD) AND ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS (AA) AS A THERAPY FOR PROBLEM DRINKING IN MIDTWENTIETH CENTURY SASKATCHEWAN, 1953-1968
The issue of problem drinking has and continues to occupy the hearts and minds of Canadians. However, the pursuit of the cause and development of an effective cure has eluded both medical and religious communities alike. This thesis explores one therapeutic model for problem drinking which was developed in Saskatchewan in the mid-twentieth century. This therapy, which drew on the psychedelic properties of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) and the program structure of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), not only showed a high rate of success but also served as a mechanism for spiritual growth and development for some patients. Through a close reading of a series of primary sources, this thesis presents the perspectives of both the psychiatric professionals and Christian clergy who were involved in these trials as well as the perspective of a patient who underwent the therapy to examine how the use of LSD and Alcoholics Anonymous to treat problem drinking blurred the lines between science and religion. Moreover, this thesis problematizes the role of spirituality in biomedical forms of addictions within the diverse field of addictions research during the mid-twentieth century.
LSD, Alcoholics Anonymous, spirituality, psychiatry, Saskatchewan
Master of Arts (M.A.)