Psychedelics Don’t Cause Psychosis

The main thing that people fear from psychedelics, aside from the harms of intensely bad trips (which can be prevented through proper drug education, instead of constant fear mongering), is that these drugs allegedly cause people to develop psychotic symptoms. Given my positive view on drugs on Twitter and in other blog posts, you can probably, correctly, guess I think this is BS.

I didn’t want to go and describe the details of all the studies on this, so here’s a table of some larger studies I’ve known of. Basically, once you control for familial risk factors, usage of other drugs, etc. the effect disappears. Considering psychedelics are a good way of dealing with most of these problems, I see no problem with the usage of these controls. Some may criticize that not all of this research is directly related to psychotic symptoms or schizophrenia. Sure, but the fact that psychedelics decrease violence and mental health problems is surely decent evidence for now.

Johansen and Krebs, 2015Massive study (N > 130,000) found psychedelic usage was not associated with mental health problems like suicidal behavior, depression and anxiety, etc. when controlling for sociodemographics, other drug use and childhood depression.
Nesvag et al., 2015Replies to last study and argues they over-adjusted in their methodology. The authors argue the study should be done with a different sample to provide accurate results. [note on this paper at bottom]
Hendricks et al., 2015aUsage of main psychedelic substances was associated with significantly reduced likelihood of past month psychological distress, past year suicidal thinking, past year suicidal planning, and past year suicidal attempts.
Hendricks et al., 2015bPsilocybin usage provides benefits expanded upon in last source
Ajantaival, 2014“No independent association between any recency of any psychedelic use and increased likelihood of past month psychological distress, past year suicidality, or everyday impairment was found. A decreased likelihood for past year suicidal thinking was found among all groups that had last used psychedelics >12 months ago or psilocybin <1 month ago, as well as for past year suicide plans and past month serious psychological distress among those whose last psychedelic use was psilocybin >12 months ago.”
Strassman, 1984Existing evidence at the time was incredibly weak. From what was available, it appeared the best studies showed very low adverse reactions to the drugs while the worst studies, which often featured participants with already negative characteristics taking drugs which we of unknown purity, showed the largest effects.
Hendricks et al., 2018Psychedelic usage was associated with lower criminality within the general population.
Walsh et al., 2016Psychedelics decreased likelihood of committing domestic abuse against one’s intimate partners.
* Hendricks et al. (2015b) argues this same critique can be applied to all of the research finding an effect opposite to Johansen and Krebs (2015). They agree this is definitionally overadjustment, but that a lot of evidence shows that failure to control for these things are a failure to control for some suicide risk factors. Therefore, they believe this control is not inappropriate or actually represents true overadjustment bias.


3 thoughts on “Psychedelics Don’t Cause Psychosis

  1. Caxoticl 11 Sep 2020 / 6:12 pm

    I suffer from schizophrenia. Is taking a psychedelic (in combination with the daily intake of anti-psychotics) can improve the quality of life? My symptoms are quiet moderate with medication but I’d love to know it it can maybe be improved in some ways. Thanks!


    • Zeke Groth 12 Sep 2020 / 2:42 am

      Pairing psychedelics with any sort of psychotic condition of any varying degree is going to be a very bad idea, unfortunately. I can not recommend this.


      • Caxoticl 12 Sep 2020 / 3:33 am

        Thank you. That’s what I thought…


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