Psychedelics might just drive you sane.
Those are the findings by neuroscience researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, who reported that LSD, psilocybin and mescaline not only don’t cause long-term mental health problems, but that in many cases the use of psychedelics is associated with a lower rate of mental health problems.
The study (here) pulled data from the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health, observing 130,152 randomly-selected respondents from the adult population of the US. 13.4% of that group (21,967 individuals) reported lifetime use of psychedelics. Comparing this data to standardized screening measures for mental health, the researchers found that neither lifetime psychedelic use nor use of LSD in the past year were independent risk factors for mental health problems—and that, in fact, psychedelic users had lower rates of mental health issues.
Teri S. Krebs and Pål-Ørjan Johansen, the Norwegian researchers, additionally noted that “psychedelic plants have been used for celebratory, religious or healing purposes for thousands of years” and that “psychedelics often elicit deeply personally and spiritually meaningful experiences and sustained beneficial effects… LSD and psilocybin are consistently ranked in expert assessments as causing less harm to both individual users and society than alcohol, tobacco, and most other common recreational drugs. Given that millions of doses of psychedelics have been consumed every year for over 40 years, well-documented case reports of long-term mental health problems following use of these substances are rare.”
The study also found absolutely no evidence that “flashbacks” afflict users of psychedelics, slaying another commonly-held superstition around psychedelic use.
The Norwegian study brings good news for the over 30 million Americans who have used psychedelics (compared to 100 million who have used marijuana). And while the media has been buzzing about Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s revelation that he “changed his mind on weed,” it may be time for psychedelics to get a similar PR rehabilitation.
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