New research has looked into the lasting challenges people face after using psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin. The researchers’ motivation lay in the increasing interest in and use of psychedelics for therapeutic purposes as well as personal growth. Numerous studies have shown that psychedelics have the potential to treat conditions such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite the benefits, however, some individuals may experience challenges following a psychedelic experience.
For their research, the investigators used channels such as newsletters, social media, newspaper ads and email lists to recruit more than 600 adults who had experienced challenges that last more than a day after a psychedelic experience. Each participant was asked to provide information about their experiences, including the substance used, dosage and the environment in which the experience took place. They were also asked about the nature and duration of the issues they experienced.
The researchers found that the most commonly used substances were psilocybin, LSD, ayahuasca, marijuana, MDMA, DMT, ketamine, mescaline and salvia divinorum, in that order. With regard to setting, the drugs were commonly used in the presence of a partner, a group of friends or one friend, followed by a solo experience then in a group ceremony. The researchers classified these experiences as unguided and guided.
The researchers determined that emotional difficulties such as fear and anxiety were the most common issues, together with self-perception issues and a disempowered self. They also determined that most individuals experienced issues that lasted an average of one to three years. Other issues included existential difficulties, which comprised about 42% of total reports while delusional beliefs made up 6%.
Some participants also reported social difficulties, with others finding it harder to communicate and some noting they developed social anxiety. The report also noted that 21% of those surveyed reported perceptual difficulties while 7% experienced visual disturbances/hallucinations.
In addition, 18% of the participants reported cognitive issues, with obsessive thoughts and confusion being the leading subthemes. Furthermore, some experienced behavioral difficulties that made it difficult to perform in school or their careers. Finally, 5% of participants also admitted to experiencing symptoms that were similar to a psychotic episode.
Jules Evans, the author of the study, noted that she was surprised to learn how long some of these issues lasted.
The study’s findings were reported in the “PLOS One” journal.
Other researchers involved include Oliver C. Robinson, Ed Prideaux, Eirini Ketzitzidou Argyri, Rosalind McAlpine, Shayam Suseelan, Katrina Michelle, Ashleigh Murphy-Beiner and David Luke.
The possibility of long-term challenges arising from chronic psychedelic use makes a strong case for restricting the use of psychedelics to medical settings. Entities such as Mind Medicine Inc. (NASDAQ: MNMD) (NEO: MMED) (DE: MMQ) are working to take their psychedelic drug candidates through the FDA clinical-development process so that safe medicines are available to patients.
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