Recreation and Realization: Reported Motivations of Use Among Persons Who Consume Psychedelics in Non-Clinical Settings

This qualitative interview study (n=30) finds that the motivation given by recreational users of psychedelics is mostly centred around curiosity and ‘having fun’ and less, but still so, about decreasing ego-inflated pathology and increasing existential awareness.


Psychedelic research is said to be going through a renaissance with widespread public and political attention on psychedelics’ ability to clinically resolve various medicalized issues. The prevailing cultural narrative of psychedelics almost touts it as a panacea when used in regulated, clinical settings under the supervision of a trained guide. While clinical studies are certainly informative, it is important to recognize that most psychedelic use takes place in social settings, not clinical ones. This paper seeks to expand the narrative on psychedelic research by presenting in-depth interview data on a diverse sample of 30 persons who report using psychedelic substances “on their own terms.” Data indicate multiple reasons for initial and subsequent psychedelic use, only some of which comport with the prevailing narrative that psychedelic use decreases ego-inflated pathology while increasing existential awareness. Indeed, while these reasons are cited among some when discussing reasons for continued use, most interviewees report motivations related to curiosity and having fun.

Author: Cindy Brooks Dollar

Study details

Topics studied

Study characteristics
Interviews Qualitative