MDMA/ecstasy use and psilocybin use are associated with lowered odds of psychological distress and suicidal thoughts in a sample of US adults

This survey study (n=484,732) found that MDMA use was associated with reduced odds of suicidal thoughts in the past year. Lifetime psilocybin use was associated with reduced odds of past year psychological distress and past-year suicidal thoughts. LSD was associated with increased odds of past-year suicidal thinking.

Abstract

Background: Suicide is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and rates within the United States have risen over the past two decades. Hence, there is a critical need for novel tools to treat suicidal ideation and related mental health conditions. 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)/ecstasy and classic psychedelics may be two such tools.

Aims: The aim of this study was to assess non-causal associations between MDMA/ecstasy and classic psychedelic use and psychological distress and suicide risk.

Methods: In this study, we examined the aforementioned associations among 484,732 adult participants in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2008–2019).

Results: Lifetime MDMA/ecstasy use was associated with reduced odds of past-year suicidal thinking (10% reduced odds; odds ratio (OR) = 0.90; 95% confidence interval, CI = (0.84–0.97); p < 0.01) and past-year suicidal planning (OR = 0.88; 95% CI = (0.78–0.99); p < 0.05). Furthermore, lifetime psilocybin use was associated with reduced odds of past month psychological distress (OR = 0.78; 95% CI = (0.73–0.84); p < 0.001) and past-year suicidal thinking (OR = 0.90; 95% CI = (0.83–0.96); p < 0.01). Finally, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) was associated with increased odds of past-year suicidal thinking (OR = 1.07; 95% CI = (1.00–1.15); p < 0.05).

Conclusion: MDMA/ecstasy and psilocybin use are associated with reduced odds of suicidal thinking and related outcomes, though experimental studies are needed to determine whether these associations are causal. These findings call for more research into the efficacy of MDMA/ecstasy and classic psychedelics for treating psychological distress and suicidal thoughts and behaviours, and for updated drug legislation that allows for further investigation into these substances.”

Authors: Grant M. Jones & Matthew K. Nock

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Study details

Compounds studied
MDMA LSD Psilocybin

Topics studied
Suicidality

Study characteristics
Survey

Participants
484732 Humans

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