A new study has found that the use of psychedelic drugs does not increase the risk of mental health problems.
The study, which was conducted by clinical psychologist Pål-Ørjan Johansen and neuroscientist Teri Krebs by analyzing information from more than 135,000 randomly chosen people, including 19,000 people who had used psychedelics from the US National Health Survey (2008-2011), found that psychedelics like LSD and magic mushrooms do not put a person at risk of developing mental health problems.
“Over 30 million US adults have tried psychedelics and there just is not much evidence of health problems,” says author and clinical psychologist Pål-Ørjan Johansen.
Teri Krebs said, “Drug experts consistently rank LSD and psilocybin mushrooms as much less harmful to the individual user and to society compared to alcohol and other controlled substances.”
In their study, the researchers found on a number of measures, the use of psychedelic drugs is correlated with fewer mental health problems, with many people reporting deeply meaningful experiences and lasting beneficial effects from using psychedelics.
However, they added that they could not exclude the possibility that use of psychedelics might have a negative effect on mental health for some individuals or groups, perhaps counterbalanced at a population level by a positive effect on mental health in others.
Despite this, the researchers believe that the findings of the study are robust enough to draw the conclusion that prohibition of psychedelic drugs cannot be justified as a public health measure.
“Concerns have been raised that the ban on use of psychedelics is a violation of the human rights to belief and spiritual practice, full development of the personality, and free-time and play,” added Krebs.
However, not everyone agrees with the study.
Charles Grob, pediatric psychiatrist at the University of California-Los Angeles, said, “Individual cases of adverse effects can and do occur as a consequence of psychedelic use. Patients with this disorder experience ‘incessant distortions’ in their vision, such as shimmering lights and colored dots. I’ve seen a number of people with these symptoms following a psychedelic experience, and it can be a very serious condition.”
The findings were published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.