Numerous scientific studies published over the last few decades have pointed to hallucinogens, including psilocybin and LSD, as promising treatment options for anxiety and depression.
However, a new study conducted by researchers at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health has found that unsupervised, recreational use of hallucinogens has been rapidly growing nationwide– raising outcome concerns among medical professionals.
The term “hallucinogens” refers to a large category of psychoactive substances that are primarily considered Schedule I drugs in the United States.
Adverse consequences of these substances can include acute delusional states, confusion, anxiety, and a prolonged period of fear, dread, and paranoia.
LSD and Ecstasy, in particular, are also associated with neurological, cardiovascular, endocrine, and autonomic adverse effects such as high blood pressure, tremors, seizures, and loss of appetite.
And since 2015, hallucinogen use has primarily increased among adults ages twenty-six and older. In fact, about 5.5 million Americans were found to have used hallucinogens in 2019 alone–meaning that about 1.6 million more people are now participating in recreational use as compared to 2002.
LSD is one of the hallucinogens that has drastically increased in prevalence and use. At the same time, the perception of LSD as “risky” has also significantly decreased.
The study’s team believes that recent research declaring hallucinogens as a potential treatment option, as well as popular media portrayals of the drugs, have contributed to their usage rise.
“Given the recent media coverage showing that an increasing number of adults may be reporting positive effects of ‘microdosing’ and expecting therapeutic benefits of hallucinogens without negative effects, our findings merit a comprehensive examination of time trends and motives for hallucinogen frequency and quantity of use,” explained Ofir Livne, the study’s first author.