A8_thumbnail_500x400In a population-based survey study that was published earlier this month, an association was found between the use of classic psychedelics and reduced psychological distress and suicidality

[1]. The researchers included the data of 191.382 individuals that participated in the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) [2] between 2008 and 2012, and made a comparison between the psychological well being of classic psychedelic users and non-users. Classic psychedelic users were categorized as such if they met the criteria of having used ayahuasca, mescaline, LSD, peyote or San Pedro and/or psilocybin at least once in their lifetime. To rule out the possibility that differences between the groups of users and non-users could be attributed to factors other than classic psychedelics, the researchers statistically controlled the demographical factors age, gender, ethno-racial identity, educational attainment, annual household income, marital status, self-reported risky behavior and lifetime illicit drug use. No solid claim can be made about causality from this correlation, but the results are in line with earlier hypotheses that the effects of psychedelics may have qualities that could be helpful in modulating suicide risk [3]. As a current estimate, about 7% of the population worldwide suffers from mental health disorders [4]. The results of this study are a hopeful answer to the request from the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (2014) to develop novel interventions that aim at suicide prevention.


 

[1] Hendricks et al. (2015).

[2] The NSDUH survey is the annual survey that is conducted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The survey aims at estimating the prevalence of substance use and mental illnesses.

[3] An extensive overview of earlier research can be found in the third and fourth paragraph of the article of Hendricks et al. (2015).

[4] This is based on the estimate of the World Health Organization (2001) that about half a billion people worldwide experience mental health problems and that the current world population is estimated at 7.2 billion (United States Census Bureau, 2015)

 

References

Hendricks, P. S., Thorne, C. B., Clark, C. B., Coombs, D. W., & Johnson, M. W. (2015). Classic psychedelic use is associated with reduced psychological distress and suicidality in the United States adult population. Journal of Psychopharmacology. [Abstract]

National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention: Research Prioritization Task Force (2014). A prioritized research agenda for suicide prevention: An action plan to save lives. National Institute of Mental Health and the Research Prioritization Task Force, Rockville, Maryland.

United States Census Bureau (2015). U.S. and World Population Clock. As retrieved on January 17. from http://www.census.gov/popclock/

World Health Organization (2001). The World health report 2001: Mental health: New understanding, new hope. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization