The use of LSD, magic mushrooms, or peyote does not increase a person's risk of developing mental health problems, according to an analysis of information from more than 130,000 randomly chosen people, including 22,000 people who had used psychedelics at least once.
Researcher Teri Krebs and clinical psychologist Pål-Ørjan Johansen, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Department of Neuroscience, used data from a US national health survey to see what association there was, if any, between psychedelic drug use and mental health problems.
The authors found no link between the use of psychedelic drugs and a range of mental health problems. Instead they found some significant associations between the use of psychedelic drugs and fewer mental health problems.
The results are published in the 19 August edition of journal PLOS ONE and are freely available online.
The researchers relied on data from the 2001-2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in which participants were asked about mental health treatment and symptoms of a variety of mental health conditions over the past year. The specific symptoms examined were general psychological distress, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and psychosis….
"After adjusting for other risk factors, lifetime use of LSD, psilocybin, mescaline or peyote, or past year use of LSD was not associated with a higher rate of mental health problems or receiving mental health treatment," says Johansen.
Not just not bad, but maybe even good (beyond the individual's own decision that they did or didn't value the experience, something this sort of science can't really capture, but of vital importance):
The researchers found that lifetime use of psilocybin or mescaline and past year use of LSD were associated with lower rates of serious psychological distress. Lifetime use of LSD was also significantly associated with a lower rate of outpatient mental health treatment and psychiatric medicine prescription….
….."recent clinical trials have also failed to find any evidence of any lasting harmful effects of psychedelics," the researchers said, which supports the robustness of thePLOS ONE findings.
"Early speculation that psychedelics might lead to mental health problems was based on a small number of case reports and did not take into account either the widespread use of psychedelics or the not infrequent rate of mental health problems in the general population," Krebs explains.
"Over the past 50 years tens of millions of people have used psychedelics and there just is not much evidence of long-term problems," she concludes.
Many in the field like to blame Dr. Timothy Leary for pushing back the cause of real science and psychedelics; I don't believe it, and here is my review of a decent Leary biography from 2007.
It is the government's choice to make them illegal that stymies serious, extended, multi-faceted research into what these things can do, and how, and why, and it was a bad choice.