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The number of young adults using psychedelics has doubled in just three years in the United States, a study suggests.
Researchers led by the University of Michigan found that 6.6 percent of 19 to 30-year-olds said they had used a hallucinogenic drug except LSD over the last year in 2021, the latest figures.
For comparison, only 3.4 percent admitted to using the drugs less than half a decade beforehand — in 2018.
The uptick, which scientists warned was a ‘dramatic’ increase, comes amid studies suggesting that psychedelics like magic mushrooms could help to treat depression and other mental health conditions.
From 2018 to 2021, the use of psychedelic drugs, other than LSD, has nearly doubled, with rates increasing from 3.4 percent to 6.6 percent
The survey results were revealed this week by the University of Michigan as part of its Monitoring the Future study — tracking the behaviors of more than 50,000 young adults in the US.
Dr Megan Patrick, a substance use expert at the university who was involved in the study, said: ‘While non-LSD hallucinogen use remains substantially less prevalent than use of substances such as alcohol and cannabis, a doubling of prevalence in just three years is a dramatic increase and raises possible public health concerns.’
Dr Katherine Keyes, an epidemiologist at Columbia University also involved in the research, added: ‘The use of psychedelic and hallucinogenic drugs for a range of therapeutic uses is increasing, given accumulating yet still preliminary data from randomized trials on clinical effectiveness.
‘With increased visibility for medical and therapeutic use, however, potentially comes diversion and unregulated product availability, as well as a lack of understanding among the public of potential risks.’
In the study, published this week in the journal Addiction, scientists looked at results from the survey from 2021 and 2018.
As well as the overall uptick, researchers also found that young men were more likely to use drugs than young women.
In 2018, 4.3 of young men took these drugs, while 2.6 percent of women took them.
There was a rise in both groups by 2021, data showed, but a more major uptick among men. For men, 8.1 percent said they had used the drugs in the past year compared to 5.2 percent of women.
Additionally, white young adults were more likely than Black young adults to have used them.
The scientists also found that youngsters who were college-educated were more likely to have used the drugs.
The study could not determine why more young adults were using the drugs or how they were using them.
But there has been a wealth of research recently pointing to how the drugs could help relieve mental health conditions, which may be leading some to use the medications.
Psychedelics like magic mushrooms are Schedule III drugs in the US, with their use, sale and possession illegal under federal law.
But some areas of the US — including Oakland and Santa Cruz in California — have decriminalized the use of the drug.
According to Harvard University, potentially adverse effects include dizziness, drowsiness, extreme dissociation from reality, panic attacks, and nausea.
‘We will continue to track these trends to see if the increases continue. We need additional research, including about the motives for hallucinogen use and how young adults are using these substances, in order to be able to mitigate the associated negative consequences,’ Dr Patrick said.