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THE LSD PATIENTS; Hundred sue NHS over drugs given to beat depression.

MORE than 100 NHS patients are suing for compensation after being given huge doses of the mind-bending drug LSD to help them cope with everyday problems like stress.

The LSD was fed to them nearly 40 years ago by psychiatrists anxious to cut down on lengthy therapy sessions.

But, far from helping them, the drug caused anxiety attacks and memory frightening and bizarre hallucinations.

Some people given the drug saw monsters coming out of hospital walls. Others imagined seeing relatives being murdered by demons - and had nightmares about being chased through woods by vampires. More than 100 people are still so traumatised by the experience they have got together to sue the NHS.

Psychiatrists in at least 15 hospitals secretly used the drug in the Fifties to treat depression, marital problems, fear of heights and even postnatal depression.

They gave it to patients in huge doses without explaining what it was - or what the side-effects could be.

The drug - full name lysergic acid diethylamide - later became notorious for its illegal use in the Sixties.

Self-styled LSD guru Dr Timothy Leary coined the phrase "Turn on, tune in, drop out" and the drug was used by hippies wanting to "blow their minds".

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Tonmoy Sharma, of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, said: "Prescribing LSD was born out of the ignorance of psychiatrists at the time.

"They prescribed it because they believed it worked, but there was no research to show it did.

"Anyone who used it now would be up before the General Medical Council."

Solicitor David Harris, whose Cheshire-based firm is leading the action against the NHS, says the former patients want money paid in damages for the long-term effects on their health.

He said: "Some people have never worked, while other have emotional and other problems.

"LSD was not a licensed drug, they just gave it to people. In all the evidence we have now taken, from doctors as well as our clients, no one was ever asked to give their consent."

Richard Foster, who is acting for the NHS in the court case, said: "We are obtaining medical records and interviewing those clinicians involved that are still alive."

'I was used as a guinea pig...'

BARBARA Arden-Rowe went to her family doctor about problems in her marriage and ended up being given LSD by a psychiatrist.

"One day he said, 'I've got a new treatment, let's try it'. The next thing I remember was waking up not knowing what had happened," said Barbara, 69, from Loughborough, Leics.

"Other times we went to soundproof rooms with people taking notes while we were given what I now know was LSD but which looked like a glass of water.

"I had frightening hallucinations. In one I was running through a thicket of bamboo with someone after me, running but getting nowhere. In another I spoke in a child's voice.

"At one time I was having 300 times the normal dose," said Barbara, a former teacher.

"I ended up having a breakdown. I was only able to work part-time afterwards.

"I had flashbacks and still have them, with weird things happening to me.

"Two weeks ago I tripped in the kitchen and suddenly I felt as though I was flying around the room.

"I think it was scandalous that they did what they did to us. What's more I didn't find out they had given me LSD until 1995 when I checked my medical records.

"Thirty years later we are still suffering the effects of being nothing more than guinea pigs."

'I'm still having hallucinations'

ROY Anthony bitterly regrets the time he sought help because he was feeling sick on the way to work each day.

Roy, from Peterborough, Cambs, said: "My problem was very simple. I had all the tests, but the GP could find nothing wrong and said it might be psychological. I went to see a psychiatrist and he said he had just the thing for me.

"Instead of having to spend long periods in analysis, I would be given a drug that would provide quick answers."

Roy, now 65 and a father-of-two, lost his job as a company representative because of the side-effects.

"I was given LSD for three months and never recovered.

"When it became a recreational drug, users had what was called a microdot of it, but we were given massive doses.

"The first time I had it I thought I'd go for a walk.

"I opened the door and almost fell on my back. I had suddenly become agoraphobic, I couldn't bear to go out. When we had children and went to the seaside, I had to stay in the car."

Roy, who did not wish to be photo-graphed, added: "I have flashbacks to childhood and hallucinations. They should not have used us in that way. I've been taking tranquillisers since I was given LSD - and that was almost 40 years ago."
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Dobson, Roger
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 29, 1999
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