A combined study by the University of Colombia and Michigan has revealed an increase in non-LSD psychedelic use by young adult Americans. The poll found that the number of young adults aged 19–30 who use psychedelics other than LSD in the past 12 months doubled from 2018 to 2021.
The study indicated that 3.4% of young adults had used non-LSD psychedelics in 2018 while 6.6% of adults in the same age group had used non-LSD hallucinogens in the past 12 months. Megan Patrick, a research professor from the Survey Research Center at U-M’s Institute for Social Research, coprincipal investigator of the Monitoring the Future study, and study coauthor, noted that non-LSD psychedelic use is “significantly less prevalent” than the use of drugs such as cannabis and alcohol.
Patrick noted that non-LSD psychedelic use increased while LSD use remained at 4% between 2018 and 2021. She also said that the increase in non-LSD was a dramatic increase in drug use that represented “possible public health concerns.” The Monitoring the Future study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and run by professors from the U-M Institute for Social Research.
Psychedelics have been illegal in most territories for the past several decades but have remained popular among niche users due to their hallucinatory effects. Drugs such as psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and LSD are the most popular among users. A resurgence in psychedelic research has now revealed that these substances have several potential therapeutic applications and significantly increased interest in both classic and alternative psychedelics.
For the study, researchers monitored annual samples of second-grade students from childhood to adulthood with a focus on health and drug use. They analyzed non-LSD hallucinogen use by sex and discovered that males used these specific psychedelics at higher rates, with young white males having higher-use rates than young Black adults. The use of non-LSD hallucinogens was also higher among young adults whose parents went to college.
Although the study did not identify whether the increased use of these psychedelics was due to recreational or medical use, the study notes that prior research has connected recreational psychedelic use with a variety of substance use disorders.
Katherine Keyes, lead study author and professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School, says that the therapeutic use of psychedelics is also on the rise, partly due to research data from recent studies into psychedelics. Still, she cautioned that the enhanced visibility of psychedelics in recent years may be accompanied by unregulated products and a lack of public education on the risks of using psychedelics.
The growing interest in the therapeutic potential of psychedelics suggests that startups such as Seelos Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SEEL) could have a huge market to serve once their drug-development pipelines yield FDA-approved medicines for different conditions.
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