This survey (n=2045) of Canadian psychedelic users finds psilocybin, MDMA and LSD are the most commonly used. It also reports positive (82%) life changes and challenging experiences (52%). Motivations for use include fun, self-exploration, general mental well-being, and personal growth.
Abstract of The Canadian Psychedelic Survey
“Background: Recent years have seen a resurgence in clinical interest in, and increased public acceptance of, psychedelic drugs in Canada. However, our understanding of how psychedelic drugs are currently used in Canada remains limited. We developed the Canadian Psychedelic Survey (CPS) to gather real-world evidence about psychedelic drug use in Canada. This study aimed to characterize CPS respondents; identify access sources; explore psychedelic-specific patterns, purposes, and contexts of use; and contextualize intense positive and challenging psychedelic experiences.
Methods: The CPS was administered in January 2022. We used descriptive statistics to characterize the sample and understand access to psychedelic drugs and detailed patterns and contexts of use. We built separate logistic regression models to identify sociodemographic and psychedelic-related correlates of reporting an intense positive and challenging experience with psychedelic drugs.
Results: We analyzed data from 2045 respondents (mean age = 38.4 years; 56% female). Psilocybin, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) were the most used psychedelic drugs. Top motivations for psychedelic drug use were fun, self-exploration, general mental well-being, and personal growth. Lifetime intense positive and challenging psychedelic experiences were reported by 82% and 52%, respectively. Over half (56%) of those who had an intense challenging experience reported that “some good” came from the experience after-the-fact. In multivariable analysis, significant correlates of intense positive experiences included higher perceived psychedelic experience and fun and self-exploration as motivations for use (p < 0.05). Significant correlates of intense challenging experiences included higher perceived psychedelic experience and trauma management, fun, and boredom as motivations for use (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: The CPS is the most comprehensive survey of psychedelic drug use to date. Detailing the range of therapeutic and nontherapeutic experiences of psychedelic drug consumers in Canada, these findings add important nuances that can inform evolving clinical research and policy discussions impacting safe access to and use of psychedelic drugs.”
Authors: Stephanie Lake & Philippe Lucas
Summary of The Canadian Psychedelic Survey
Psychedelics are drugs that cause altered states of consciousness, psychological, auditory, visual sensory changes, and are characterized by their agonist effects at serotonin 2A (5-HT2a) receptors. Clinical research involving psychedelics has been limited since the mid 1960s due to legal restrictions and tight regulations on research involving pharmaceuticals.
Materials and Methods
The renewed interest in psychedelics and their potential therapeutic use can be viewed as part of a broader shift in the regulation of psychoactive substances informed by public health and harm reduction rather than prohibition and criminal justice. The Canadian government classifies psychedelics as controlled substances under the CDSA, but Health Canada has added psychedelics to the list of treatments available under the Special Access Program for patients with serious health conditions and limited conventional treatment options. The Canadian Psychedelic Survey (CPS) is a comprehensive general population survey of Canadian psychedelic use. It was developed in collaboration with clinicians and academic researchers from Johns Hopkins, UCLA, University of Alabama, University of Michigan, Cleveland Clinic, McMaster, McGill and UBC.
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Lake, S., & Lucas, P. (2023). The Canadian Psychedelic Survey: Characteristics, Patterns of Use, and Access in a Large Sample of People Who Use Psychedelic Drugs. Psychedelic Medicine.