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J Psychoactive Drugs. 2011 Apr-Jun;43(2):153-64.

Psychedelic drugs, hippie counterculture, speed and phenobarbital treatment of sedative-hypnotic dependence: a journey to the Haight Ashbury in the Sixties.

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CNS Medications Development, Oakland, CA, USA.


The 1960s were a time of social upheaval, wars, vibrant creativity and missed opportunity. Mainstream culture and a psychedelic drug-using counterculture shared a belief in "better living through chemistry'," but they disagreed about the particular chemistry. The Vietnam war and the cold war with the Soviet Union, racial discrimination, and gender roles fueled political activism. "Yes we can" was not a slogan of the time but political activists clearly believed they could change the beliefs, attitudes and behavior of mainstream culture; and they did. Hippie counterculture on the other hand was largely alienated and strove primarily to develop a separate culture with its own mores, beliefs and lifestyles. Although there was some overlap between hippies and activists, hippies didn't generally have the same sense of political empowerment. Hippie enclaves developed in New York; Boston; Seattle; Austin, Texas and elsewhere; but the epicenter was arguably the Haight-Asbury District of San Francisco. Psychedelic drugs, marijuana and the Vietnam war were among many wedge issues. This paper conjures up a personal history related to the evolution of the hippie counterculture, changing drug use patterns in the Haight-Ashbury, and the origins of a technique of withdrawing patients from barbiturates and other sedative-hypnotics using phenobarbital variously known as the "Phenobarbital Withdrawal Protocol, or the "Smith and Wesson Protocol."

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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