Self-reported effects of classic psychedelics on stuttering

This pre-print analysis of online (Reddit) posts finds that classical psychedelics benefited 75% of those who mentioned the effects (10% negative). The benefits spanned behavioural change (e.g. reduced stuttering), emotional benefit, and cognitive changes.

Abstract of Self-reported effects of classic psychedelics on stuttering

“Stuttering is a neurodevelopmental communication disorder that can lead to significant social, occupational, and educational challenges. Traditional behavioral interventions for stuttering can be helpful, but effects are often limited. Classic psychedelics hold promise as a complement to traditional interventions, but their impact on stuttering is unknown. We conducted a qualitative content analysis to explore potential benefits and negative effects of psychedelics on stuttering using publicly available Reddit posts. A combined inductive-deductive approach was used whereby meaningful units were extracted and codes were initially assigned inductively. We then deductively applied an established framework to organize the effects (i.e., codes) into five subthemes (Behavioral, Emotional, Cognitive, Belief, and Social Connection), each of which was grouped under an organizing theme (positive, negative, neutral). Results indicated that the effects of psychedelics spanned all subthemes. Nearly 75% of participants reported overall positive effects. Nearly 60% of participants indicated positive behavioral change (e.g., reduced stuttering, increased speech control), 40% reported positive emotional benefit, 15% reported positive cognitive changes, 12% reported positive effects on beliefs, and 7% indicated positive social effects. Approximately 10% of participants reported negative behavioral effects (e.g., increased stuttering, reduced speech control). Psychedelics may help many stutterers improve communication, cultivate a healthier outlook, and promote psychological well-being. These preliminary results indicate that future clinical trials investigating psychedelic-assisted speech therapy for stuttering are warranted.”

Authors: Noah D. Gold, Noam Goldway, Hope Gerlach-Houck & Eric S. Jackson

Summary of Self-reported effects of classic psychedelics on stuttering

Stuttering is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by intermittent disruptions in speech production, and is present in about 1% of the adult population. It can have detrimental consequences on one’s quality of life. Stutterers experience multiple negative emotions, including anxiety, fear, and shame, contributing to repeated negative thinking and increased word or situational avoidance.

This complex interplay between social mistreatment and the behavioural, affective, and cognitive components of stuttering shapes the stutterer’s sense of self and identity. Stutterers often re-emerge from speech therapy with old tension, struggle, and avoidance relics. Stutterers must also shift how they identify with stuttering to make speech change durable.

Clinical trials have shown that psychedelic compounds have the potential to treat a variety of psychiatric conditions. These drugs induce psychological and cognitive flexibility, increased positive affect, and change in rigid patterns of maladaptive behaviour. Psychedelic compounds may complement existing behavioural therapies for stuttering, specifically emphasising cognitive and affective symptomatology.

However, psychedelics-assisted interventions carry potential psychiatric risks, including acute mood instability and distortions in sensory perception, and long-lasting mania or psychosis. Several recent studies have reported encouraging results regarding the safety profile of psychedelics. However, there is no data regarding psychedelics’ safety profile in the context of stuttering. Psychedelics are being extensively used recreationally, and individuals voluntarily share their experiences with psychedelic substances on the online messaging forum Reddit.

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Self-reported effects of classic psychedelics on stuttering

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Cite this paper (APA)

Gold, N., Goldway, N., Gerlach-Houck, H., & Jackson, E. S. (2023). Self-reported effects of classic psychedelics on stuttering. bioRxiv, 2023-04.

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