Well-Being Prevention & Cures

Millions of American adults use hallucinogenic drugs, study finds

“Factors such as changes in risk perception, in the specific types of drugs available and in expectations of beneficial effects of ‘micro dosing’ may all have led to increased use of certain hallucinogens in recent years.”
iStock

Story at a glance


  • Columbia University researchers found the use of hallucinogens in the past 12 months, based on 2019 data, increased among adults over the age of 26 while decreasing among Americans aged 12-17 since 2015. 

  • For the study, the team analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2002 to 2019 for participants 12 years of age and older.

  • Data shows that LSD use rose within all age groups between 2002 and 2019 but especially among those aged 17 to 25. 

More than 5.5 million U.S. adults use hallucinogenic drugs — such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and phencyclidine (PCP) — according to estimates in a new study.  

Columbia University researchers found the use of hallucinogens in the past 12 months, based on 2019 data, increased among adults over the age of 26 and decreased among Americans aged 12 to 17 since 2015.  

For the study, the team analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2002 to 2019 for participants 12 years of age and older. 

Data shows that LSD use rose within all age groups between 2002 and 2019 but especially among those aged 17 to 25. This group saw an increase from 0.9 percent in 2002 to 4 percent in 2019. 

“Our finding of an upward trend in 12-month LSD use, overall and by age, matches our finding of a downward trend in perception of LSD as risky,” the study’s senior author and professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Deborah Hasin said in a news release

“Factors such as changes in risk perception, in the specific types of drugs available and in expectations of beneficial effects of ‘micro dosing’ may all have led to increased use of certain hallucinogens in recent years.” 

The team warned that the use of hallucinogens could lead to delusional states, confusion and other anxious reactions, among others, as well as to a series of health issues involving the heart, brain and endocrine system.  

America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news. 

Hasin said growing interest in microdosing hallucinogens for possible health benefits could alter one’s perception of risk and warrants oversight from clinicians and policymakers. 

“Our results highlight such use as a growing public health concern and suggest that the increasing risk of potentially unsupervised hallucinogen use warrants preventive strategies. “