Psychedelics and psychological strengths

This survey study (n=3157) investigated the effects of classical psychedelic use on psychological well-being in the general population. The results showed that classical psychedelic users exhibited greater psychological strengths and well-being and lower levels of distress compared to cannabis and alcohol users. The benefits were mediated by self-transcendence and motivated by personal growth, regardless of demographic variables, beliefs about psychedelics, and other drug use.


“Classical psychedelics appear efficacious in improving psychological well-being in randomized clinical trials, but their effects in the population at large are relatively unknown. In the present paper, which includes three studies conducted by online survey with a collective 3,157 participants, classical psychedelic users showed greater psychological strengths and well-being, and lower levels of distress, after controlling for demographic variables, respondents’ beliefs about the potential benefits of psychedelics, and their use of other psychoactive drugs. These benefits contrast with patterns for cannabis and alcohol users, both of whom showed comparatively maladaptive profiles. Reported relationships between psychedelic use and the combined index of psychological strengths was fully mediated by self-transcendence. We show an effect of motivation for psychedelic use, where those who reported a ‘growth’ motivation showed the most robustly adaptive psychological profile. Psychedelic users reported more lifetime meditation experience, and within psychedelic users, greater frequency of use correlated with greater hours of lifetime seated meditation practice. Meditation experience did not account for the differences in strengths, well-being, and distress. In these studies, psychedelic users showed an adaptive psychological pattern on a wider array of strengths than previously studied, which were not attributable to several salient covariates. While causality cannot be inferred from this study, findings align with and advance past research which provides evidence for the potential benefits associated with psychedelics.”

Authors: Trey Brasher, David Rosen & Marcello Spinella

Summary of Psychedelics and psychological strengths

There is a current resurgence in the research and clinical applications of classical psychedelics, such as psilocybin, DMT/ayahuasca, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), mescaline, and analogous drugs. These drugs have been widely used in the general population, and have been shown to produce long-lasting trait changes.

Psychedelics have been associated with a range of psychological characteristics, including increased acceptance, increased self-transcendence, improved physical health, increased meaning in life, increased mindfulness, increased self-compassion, decreased substance misuse, decreased physical pain, and improved convergent and divergent thinking.

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Study details

Topics studied
Population Surveys Public Health, Prevention & Behaviour Change

Study characteristics

3157 Humans

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