For decades it’s been postulated that psychedelics have valid medicinal use, and researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham sought to study it further. The research team studied data on 190,000 US adults. That data showed that lifetime psychedelic use was associated with a 19% drop in psychological distress and a 14% drop in suicidal thinking. Most importantly, there was a 29% decrease in suicidal planning as well. At the end of the day, there was a 36% lower chance of an individual committing suicide over the course of a year if they had used psychedelics.
Lifetime non-use of psychedelic drugs, however, was linked to an increase in these problems.
The study doesn’t exactly answer why psychedelics correlated with reduced psychological distress, but it does suggest that more research could be helpful in determining whether psychedelics hold promise for the prevention of suicide.
“Despite advances in mental health treatments, suicide rates generally have not declined in the past 60 years. Novel and potentially more effective interventions need to be explored,” said Peter S. Hendricks, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior and lead study author. “This study sets the stage for future research to test the efficacy of classic psychedelics in addressing suicidal as well as pathologies associated with increased suicide risk.”
“Growing evidence including the present research suggests that classic psychedelics may have the potential to alleviate human suffering associated with mental illness,” the researchers concluded. “Further rigorous research is warranted to better understand these substances, with the ultimate goal of taking full advantage of their latent therapeutic capacity.”
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