In a study of 130,000 American adults, including 19,299 psychedelics users, researchers failed to find evidence that taking psychotropic substances results in serious mental health problems. Alcohol, on the other hand, continues to drive rates of depression and suicide higher because it easily aggravates smaller mental health issues into something larger.
Funded by the Research Council of Norway, scientists found that people often reported experiencing deep and meaningful events while under the influence of substances like LSD or psychedelic mushrooms. While those reports were subjective, the study also looked at clinical conditions like serious psychological distress, mental health treatment, suicidal thoughts and plans, depression, and anxiety.
"Drug experts consistently rank LSD and psilocybin mushrooms as much less harmful to the individual user and to society compared to alcohol and other controlled substances."
Teri Krebs, a neuroscientist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology who helped lead the study, concludes that it is difficult to see from a public health perspective any government's justification for outlawing the use of psychedelic substances: "Drug experts consistently rank LSD and psilocybin mushrooms as much less harmful to the individual user and to society compared to alcohol and other controlled substances."
Popular author and Stanford philosophy graduate Sam Harris explains his own experience with psychedelic drugs during his Big Think interview. Early in the clip, Harris offers important caveats to taking hallucinogenic drugs because many are neurotoxins. For the serious inquirer, however, they are a way to further explore the nature of consciousness.