Study: More US Adults Are Using Hallucinogens Than Ever Before

The future is starting to look a bit more psychedelic

Magic mushroom store
Customers enter a shop selling magic mushrooms in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on August 05, 2023.
Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images

Maybe it’s a result of years’ worth of articles about microdosing; maybe it’s due to reports of celebrities like Diplo running marathons after taking LSD or efforts to legalize magic mushrooms. One thing’s for certain: something is causing Americans to take more hallucinogens — or, at least, to feel more comfortable admitting that they do when asked about it for a survey.

That’s one of the conclusions reached by Stephanie Pappas in a recent article for Live Science. Pappas reviewed Monitoring the Future’s recent study of drug and alcohol use with an eye to how the nation is treating hallucinogens. (If that study sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same one that revealed an uptick in binge drinking among the middle-aged.) In the survey, hallucinogen use among the 19-to-30 set and the 35-to-50 set both reached their highest levels since the survey began recording information in the mid-1970s.

It’s worth mentioning that the vast majority of people polled in both groups had not used hallucinogens in the past year. Eight percent of the 19-to-30-year-olds polled, and four percent of the 35-to-50-year-olds polled, had opted to take some sort of hallucinogenic substance in 2022.

What’s also notable about the younger group is what they weren’t taking — the report notes that “[m]ost of past-year use in 2022 reported by adults in this age group involved hallucinogens other than LSD.”

For both age groups polled, the percentage using hallucinogens had increased relative to five and 10 years ago. As the study’s principal investigator, Megan Patrick, Ph.D., phrased it, “Behaviors and public perception of drug use can shift rapidly, based on drug availability and other factors. It’s important to track this so that public health professionals and communities can be prepared to respond.”

It’s also a useful glimpse into the nation’s psyche — and how the nation’s psyche might be looking to expand the boundaries of its consciousness.

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