Psychedelics Associated With Lower Suicide Risk and Psychological Distress

By Victoria Kim 04/06/15

Research shows that lifetime use of the major psychedelics reduces suicidal behavior.

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Psychedelic drugs “have the potential to alleviate human suffering associated with mental illness” according to a new study, which analyzed the effect of psychedelic use on psychological distress and suicide risk.

The researchers analyzed five years’ worth of responses from 190,000 adults who participated in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a national study conducted annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

They found that the use of so-called classic psychedelics—LSD, psilocybin, DMT, and mescaline—was associated with lower levels of psychological distress and suicide risk.

“Lifetime classic psychedelic use was associated with 19% reduced likelihood of past month psychological distress, a 14% reduced likelihood of past year suicidal planning, and a 36% reduced likelihood of past year suicide attempt,” the researchers wrote. Whereas lifetime use of other illicit drugs was largely associated with an increased likelihood of all these outcomes.

Currently, psychedelic drugs are classified as Schedule I, which means they are considered dangerous by the federal government, and are defined as having no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I is considered the most dangerous of the five drug schedules.

But given the study’s results, as well as the results of a number of previous studies that have demonstrated that psychedelic drugs show promise in the treatment of depression, and even quitting alcohol and cigarettes, researchers say the government should consider reclassifying psychedelics to facilitate further research.

“These findings indicate that classic psychedelics may hold promise in the prevention of suicide, supporting the view that classic psychedelics’ most highly restricted legal status should be reconsidered to facilitate scientific study, and suggesting that more extensive clinical research with classic psychedelics is warranted,” the researchers wrote.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr