Research into psychedelics has increased significantly in the recent past, with growing evidence to support their therapeutic benefits for a range of disorders, among them alcoholism and depression. Now, a new study has found that people who use psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD may experience increased unusual visual occurrences.
The study looked into the possible side effects of psychedelics when used in a recreational setting. The focus outside of clinical settings comes from concern that using these drugs in uncontrolled environments may not be safe.
For their research, the scientists looked into the intensity and prevalence of visual experiences among the general population, with the aim of better understanding the risks involved with psychedelic use in everyday environments. They recruited a cohort made up of more than 9,000 participants from the United Kingdom and the United States. These individuals were chosen to match the demographic makeup of their respective nations in terms of age, sex and ethnicity to ensure proper representation.
Once this was done, the researchers gathered baseline data on the use of psychedelics by the participants during a two-month period. In addition to reporting any use of psychedelics, each individual’s visual anomalies were also recorded. These experiences included seeing colors increase in intensity and observing halos around objects.
Two months later, this exercise was repeated, with the aim being to offer a longitudinal glimpse into the link between visual experiences and the use of psychedelics. In their report, the researchers stated that they observed a correlation between first-time use of psychedelics and increased unusual visual occurrences. Participants who first used psychedelics during the study saw a significant increase in these visual experiences, in comparison to those who had used the drugs previously. This indicates that people who haven’t used psychedelics before may experience more pronounced visual anomalies.
The researchers also assessed the prevalence of certain types of visual disturbances, noting that increases in intensity or brightness of colors were more frequent among psychedelic users.
The study did have some limitations, among them the reliance on self-reported information, as this could be affected by recall bias. The study’s observational nature also made it challenging for causation to be conclusively proven, despite the establishment of a link between unusual visual phenomena and psychedelic use.
The study’s findings were reported in the “Journal of Psychopharmacology.” The researchers involved included Otto Simonsson, Ludwig Honk, Cecilia UD Stenfors, Peter S. Hendricks, Walter Osika and Simon B. Goldberg.
These research findings make a compelling argument for the use of psychedelics in only clinical settings. It is notable that drug-development companies such as Mind Medicine Inc. (NASDAQ: MNMD) (NEO: MMED) (DE: MMQ) are focusing on bringing to market psychedelic medicines that are to be prescribed by doctors, with none of the companies focusing on the recreational use of these substances.
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