Psychedelics, also known as hallucinogenic drugs, have remained popular drugs of abuse since first rising to prominence in mainstream culture in the 1960s. 2016 alone saw hallucinogens as a whole being reported as the 4th most popular drugs of abuse in the United States by person’s aged 12 and over (1).
The possible correlation between psychedelic abuse and mental health issues has been a source of much debate for many years now. Here we take a look at what science has to say about psychedelics and psychosis.
Psychedelic drug use may increase the odds of having mental illness
A 2015 study sought to check if there was any correlation between mental illness and lifetime psychedelic use of LSD, psilocybin (mushrooms), and mescaline. The study used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) that included data from over 135,000 participating adults.
The study found that use of psychedelic drugs was directly correlated with an increased risk of mental health issues. The participants were found to have three times higher odds of being admitted to a mental health hospital than those who had not abused psychedelic drugs. (2)
Psychedelics can cause Persistent-psychosis disorder
Another risk that comes with hallucinogen abuse is a syndrome known as persistent psychosis. Persistent psychosis refers to a continuation of the hallucinatory state long after drug use has stopped (3). The mental problems associated with persistent psychosis may include symptoms such as visual disturbances, paranoia, disorganized thinking, and mood changes (4).
Psychedelics can worsen previous mental illnesses
One study sought to investigate the affect that ritual ayahuasca/DMT use had on mental health on populations in South America. The study found that a significant portion of study subjects who had prior mental health problems or a family history of mental health problems presented psychotic issues after ingesting ayahuasca (5). This highlights the risk associated with psychedelic abuse.
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