Study finds psychedelic drugs may reduce domestic violence

April 26, 2016
UBC Assoc. Prof. Zach Walsh. Credit: UBC

Psychedelic drugs may help curb domestic violence committed by men with substance abuse problems, according to a new UBC study.

The UBC Okanagan study found that 42 per cent of U.S. 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).

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," says Assoc. Prof. Zach Walsh, the co-director for UBC Okanagan's Centre for the Advancement of Psychological Science and Law. "As existing treatments for are insufficient, we need to take new perspectives such as this seriously."

"Intimate partner violence is a major problem and existing treatments to reduce reoffending are insufficient," he says. "With proper dosage, set, and setting we might see even more profound effects. This definitely warrants further research."

The study was co-authored by University of Alabama Assoc. Prof. Peter Hendricks, who predicts that psilocybin and related compounds could revolutionize 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," says Hendricks. "Often, people are struck by the realization that behaving with compassion and kindness toward others is high on the list of what matters."

While research on the benefits of 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.

"The experiences of unity, positivity, and transcendence that characterize the psychedelic experience may be particularly beneficial to groups that are frequently marginalized and isolated, such as the incarcerated men who participated in this study," says Walsh.

The study was published last week in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Explore further: Hallucinogens use could protect against intimate partner violence

Related Stories

Hallucinogens use could protect against intimate partner violence

February 8, 2016
Evidence in a study led by researchers at the University of British Columbia along with University of Alabama at BirminghamSchool of Public Health Associate Professor Peter S. Hendricks, Ph.D., suggests hallucinogens such ...

More research needed on benefits of psychedelic drugs

October 9, 2014
A University of Adelaide philosophy scholar is calling for more research into the therapeutic benefits of psychedelic drugs, with early studies suggesting these substances can provide lasting psychological benefits.

No link between psychedelics and mental health problems

March 5, 2015
The use of psychedelics, such as LSD and magic mushrooms, does not increase a person's risk of developing mental health problems, according to an analysis of information from more than 135,000 randomly chosen people, including ...

Use of psychedelic drugs remains prevalent in the US

April 23, 2013
An article published in F1000Research, and approved for indexing in PubMed and other major bibliographical databases, estimates that there were approximately 32 million users of psychedelic drugs in the United States in 2010.

Psychedelic drug use could reduce psychological distress, suicidal thinking

March 9, 2015
A history of psychedelic drug use is associated with less psychological distress and fewer suicidal thoughts, planning and attempts, according to new research from Johns Hopkins and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

LSD, other psychedelics not linked with mental health problems in new study

August 19, 2013
The use of LSD, magic mushrooms, or peyote does not increase a person's risk of developing mental health problems, according to an analysis of information from more than 130,000 randomly chosen people, including 22,000 people ...

Recommended for you

Probing how Americans think about mental life

October 20, 2017
When Stanford researchers asked people to think about the sensations and emotions of inanimate or non-human entities, they got a glimpse into how those people think about mental life.

Itsy bitsy spider: Fear of spiders and snakes is deeply embedded in us

October 19, 2017
Snakes and spiders evoke fear and disgust in many people, even in developed countries where hardly anybody comes into contact with them. Until now, there has been debate about whether this aversion is innate or learnt. Scientists ...

Dutch courage—Alcohol improves foreign language skills

October 18, 2017
A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, conducted by researchers from the University of Liverpool, Maastricht University and King's College London, shows that bilingual speakers' ability to speak a second ...

Inflamed support cells appear to contribute to some kinds of autism

October 18, 2017
Modeling the interplay between neurons and astrocytes derived from children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Brazil, say innate ...

Study suggests psychedelic drugs could reduce criminal behavior

October 18, 2017
Classic psychedelics such as psilocybin (often called magic mushrooms), LSD and mescaline (found in peyote) are associated with a decreased likelihood of antisocial criminal behavior, according to new research from investigators ...

Taking probiotics may reduce postnatal depression

October 18, 2017
Researchers from the University of Auckland and Otago have found evidence that a probiotic given in pregnancy can help prevent or treat symptoms of postnatal depression and anxiety.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.