More than 5.5 million US adults use hallucinogens, study finds

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In a study from Columbia University, scientists found hallucinogen use has increased since 2015, overall and particularly among adults 26 and older, while use decreased in adolescents aged 12–17 years.

They estimated over 5.5 million people in the U.S. used hallucinogens in the past year in 2019, which represents an increase from 1.7% of the population ages 12 years and over in 2002 to 2.2% in 2019.

LSD use between 2002 and 2019 increased overall and in all age groups with the past 12-month rate increasing from 0.9% in 2002 to 4% in 2019 for those 18-25 years of age.

Conversely, PCP use between 2002 and 2019 decreased, as did the drug Ecstasy since 2015.

The study is the first to provide formal statistical analyses of trends in the prevalence of hallucinogen use overall and by age groups during the last two decades.

In the study, the team analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2002 to 2019 for participants 12 years of age and older.

The use of hallucinogens—a broad category of psychoactive substances, including “classic” psychedelics such as LSD—are mostly designated as Schedule I drugs in the U. S., and may entail risk for adverse consequences including anxious reactions, confusion, acute delusional states and prolonged sense of fear and dread.

LSD and Ecstasy and several other hallucinogens are associated with an increased risk of autonomic, endocrine, heart and brain adverse effects, including elevated blood pressure, heart rate and loss of appetite, tremors and seizures.

PCP is considered to be one of the most dangerous hallucinogens, and known to cause adverse effects similar to LSD and ecstasy, but unlike those drugs, PCP can lead to hostile and violent behaviors that may result in severe trauma.

The team says the new findings suggest benefits from the use of certain hallucinogens in a range of cognitive areas are being published at a rapid rate.

But there are still gaps in knowledge concerning safe hallucinogen use, and evidence for potential adverse effects even with professionally supervised use that warrant attention.

Researchers, clinicians and policymakers should increase their attention to the rising rates of unsupervised hallucinogen use among the general public.

If you care about public health, please read studies about cannabis hemp oil may treat chronic neuropathic pain and cannabis linked to blood pressure reduction in older people.

For more information about public health, please see recent studies that high-potency cannabis may affect your memory functions, and results showing medical cannabis may help reduce arthritis pain and back pain.

The study was conducted by Ofir Livne et al and published in the journal Addiction.

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