Mental health of a self-selected sample of psychedelic users and self-medication practices with psychedelics

The observational survey study (n=1,967) investigated the frequency and efficacy of self-medication practices amongst psychedelic users and found that the prevalence of lifetime psychopathologies amongst psychedelic users was higher than in the general population. Although psychedelics were seldom used for self-medication, those who did use psychedelics in this manner reported it to be more effective than the current lines of treatment for mental illness.

Abstract

Background: A substantial number of people worldwide suffer from mental health problems during their lifetime. First-line treatments are not effective for everybody. Recent studies suggest that psychedelic drugs have high therapeutic potential for a variety of mental disorders.

Aims: This survey study aimed to assess the tendency of psychedelic users to self-medicate with psychedelics and to compare the effectiveness of self-administered psychedelics to treat their disorder and the treatment offered by a medical professional.

Methods and results: In total, 1,967 respondents consented were ≥18 years and completed the questionnaire. The mean (±SD) age was 25.9 (8.7); 79% were males, 20% females, and 1% classified themselves as “other.” Almost half of the respondents (46%) indicated to have suffered/to be suffering from a mental disorder, with 77% being diagnosed by a medical professional. In 99% of the diagnosed cases, the treatment was offered; 77% searched for treatments outside a medical professional’s recommendation with 81% who had used/were using psychedelics to treat/cure symptoms. Self-administered psychedelic treatment had a higher likelihood of being efficacious, with higher symptoms reduction and larger quality of life improvement compared to treatment offered by a medical professional.

Conclusions: Lifetime prevalence of psychopathologies in the current sample of psychedelic drug users seemed to be higher than in the general population. Self-medication with psychedelics was not highly frequent; although when it occurred, it was rated as significantly more effective as treatment offered by a medical professional. Current findings support research exploring the potential of psychedelics in the treatment of psychopathologies.

Authors: Natasha L. Mason & Kim P. C. Kuypers

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