Psychedelic mushrooms in the USA: Knowledge, patterns of use and association with health outcomes

This survey study (n=7139) assessed the use of psychedelic mushrooms amongst adults in the US. The survey found that people generally self-medicate with psychedelic mushrooms for reasons related to mental health, with users reporting significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression. The study concludes with a call for a use-related harm reduction strategy for psychedelic mushrooms in the US.

Abstract

Introduction: Popular media coverage, including of recent positive late stage clinical trials in depression and PTSD, and decriminalization initiatives, are transforming the public perception of psychedelics. However, little is known about levels of knowledge and personal use of psychedelic mushroom(s) (PM) among American adults.

Methods: We examined PM use and various measures of health status, quality of life and self-reported mental health outcome measures obtained through a national on-line, cross-sectional survey of adults with a demographic composition representative of the US adult population by region, gender, age, and race (weighted N = 251,297,495) from November 2020-March 2021.

Results: General mental health and well-being was a popular reason for PM use (63.6%). PM users were less likely to be overweight than non-users, but overall quality of life (VR-12) was lower for mental health (39.5 vs 45.5). PM users reported significantly higher levels of anxiety (GAD-7 scores of 9.6 vs 5.9) and depression (PHQ-9 scores of 11.2 vs 6.8). They were less likely to have health insurance [OR=0.50 (0.35-0.72)], but reported significantly more healthcare services utilization.

Discussion and Conclusions: There is a mismatch between our findings of an association between PM use and poor mental health outcomes, and current discourse on the positive health benefits of PM consumption. A significant number of Americans are already self medicating with PM and further research to understand the role of anecdotal knowledge and pseudoscientific information in PM uptake. There is an urgent need for a PM use-related national harm reduction strategy.”

Authors: Richard Matzopoulos, Robert Morlock, Amy Morlock, Bernard Lerer & Leonard B. Lerer

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