Toronto: Psychedelic drugs such as LSD may help curb domestic violence committed by men with substance abuse problems, a new US study has claimed. The study found that 42 per cent of US adult male inmates who did not take psychedelic drugs were arrested within six years for domestic battery after their release, compared to a rate of 27 per cent for those who had taken drugs such as LSD, psilocybin (commonly known as magic mushrooms) and MDMA (ecstasy).
A psychedelic substance is a psychoactive drug whose primary action is to alter cognition and perception. The observational study followed 302 inmates for an average of six years after they were released. All those observed had histories of substance use disorders.
“While not a clinical trial, this study, in stark contrast to prevailing attitudes that views these drugs as harmful, speaks to the public health potential of psychedelic medicine,” said Zach Walsh from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada.
“As existing treatments for intimate partner violence are insufficient, we need to take new perspectives such as this seriously,” said Walsh. “Intimate partner violence is a major public health problem and existing treatments to reduce reoffending are insufficient,” he said.
“With proper dosage, set and setting we might see even more profound effects. This definitely warrants further research,” said Walsh.
The study co-authored by Professor Peter Hendricks from the University of Alabama in the US, predicts that psilocybin and related compounds could revolutionise the mental health field.
“Although we’re attempting to better understand how or why these substances may be beneficial, one explanation is that they can transform people’s lives by providing profoundly meaningful spiritual experiences that highlight what matters most,” said Hendricks.
“Often, people are struck by the realisation that behaving with compassion and kindness towards others is high on the list of what matters,” said Hendricks. While research on the benefits of psychedelic drugs took place in the 1950 to the 1970s, primarily to treat mental illness, it was stopped due to the reclassification of the drugs to a controlled substance in the mid-1970s.
Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in psychedelic medicine, researchers said. “The experiences of unity, positivity, and transcendence that characterise the psychedelic experience may be particularly beneficial to groups that are frequently marginalised and isolated, such as the incarcerated men who participated in this study,” Walsh added.