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Abuse and addiction to psychedelics?

Prescription Drugs

The short answer to whether abuse or addiction to psychedelics is possible is "no". We will try to explain why. First of all, it is not usual to "use" psychedelics in the way that you typically use drugs. It is admittedly possible to take (preferably lower) doses of psychedelics as pure entertainment and relaxation. You can also experience a type of social fusion of a completely different kind than what you typically do with alcohol. Such experiences can also have big, positive results. But the life-changing experiences you often hear about usually require a completely different setting. 


When it comes to abuse, this is defined as "continued use after damage has occurred". For substances such as alcohol, tobacco and many of the substances that are defined as "narcotics", this point is reached quite quickly with regular use, Damage to the liver, lungs and other organs, anxiety, depression and paranoia, as well as cognitive problems. And although not all of these damages are irreversible, by definition we are talkning of abuse if you smoke so much that you become short of breath. 

Psychedelic substances, on the other hand, generally do not lead to physical, psychological or social problems. Often it is quite the opposite: You actually become more concerned with taking care of both your body, psyche and relationships you are in. 


Physical dependence on classic psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin is not really possible. The substances are simply not addictive in the way that alcohol, caffeine, cocaine and other substances are. In addition, such experiences are not something you will desire to have far too often, as they are not only fun: good psychedelic journeys are often also very demanding. 

It is still not impossible that one can develop a certain psychological addiction to psychedelics, especially in social settings as mentioned above, but then at the same time another effect occurs: The body will quickly develop a tolerance to the substance, and after a few days one can no longer get effect regardless of dose. 

The conclusion is that the danger of abuse and addiction is something you can largely ignore when it comes to psychedelics. 

One of the first major studies on psychedelics in modern times was conducted at Johns Hopkins University on a group of patients with life-threatening cancer. Two similar studies were conducted in 2011 and 2014 with 12 participants, so the aim here was to see if the results held up in a larger population (56 participants). All studies were double-blind and placebo-controlled. All participants had potentially life-threatening cancer diagnoses and marked symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. One group received a high dose of psilocybin, corresponding to 3.5 g of mushroom (P. Cubensis), and the placebo group received a low dose, corresponding to 0.25 g of mushroom. Before taking the medicine, they had an average of three preparatory meetings. There were two therapists present throughout the process and the room where the treatment took place was a "cozy" room with plants, pictures and a sofa where the participants had to lie. Following the medicine day, the participants had an average of six integration meetings, again with both therapists present.

The results were measured by asking both the participants themselves and other observers such as family, colleagues and friends. 62% reported that the high-dose experience was among the five most meaningful experiences they have had in their life, where experiences such as the birth of a child, death in close family, weddings and the like were on the list. 86% reported a moderate to high increase in quality of life, a figure that only decreased by 3.5% over six months. When measuring the reduction of symptoms for anxiety and depression, the results were 52-60% for the high-dose group compared to 12-16% for the placebo group.

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