COVID-19 is inspiring more people to drop acid

by Amanda Push

2020 is already the fever dream we never wanted so why wouldn’t we sprinkle some LSD in there while we’re at it?

At least, researchers believe this is what a lot more Americans have started doing. Why? Escapism, researchers are saying.

“LSD is used primarily to escape. And given that the world’s on fire, people might be using it as a therapeutic mechanism,” Andrew Yockey, a doctoral candidate in health education at the University of Cincinnati and lead author of the paper, told the Scientific American. “Now that COVID’s hit, I’d guess that use has probably tripled.”

Yockey was one of several researchers who was involved with a study to delve into the drug habits of 168,562 adults which was published in May. After sifting through the data gathered by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), they found that LSD use overall shot up by 56.4% from 2015 to 2018 in America.

Specifically, they found that use among people between the ages of 35 to 49 and those with college degrees had increased. Those between the ages of 35-49 started dropping acid 223% more while those with college degrees upped their use by 70% more.

See? Acid isn’t just for the 20-some-year-old whippersnappers.

While the NSDUH didn’t ask participants why they increased their use of LSD, researchers speculate that the 2016 presidential election was (not shockingly) a big reason for the uptick. Now, four years later, researchers believe that COVID is bringing about similar desires for escapism. Can you blame us?

Researchers also believe the rising trend in microdosing with hallucinogens — taking small doses of a psychoactive substance like magic mushrooms — has contributed to more widespread use.

This is because users want “to understand the full capacity of their minds and to improve their well-being,” David Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London who was not involved in the study, told the Scientific American.

LSD is still illegal at the federal level, but cities like Denver and Oakland are slowly paving the way to at least decriminalize hallucinogens like psilocybin. While there are exceptions, (LSD can worsen the symptoms of psychotic disorders like schizophrenia) this increase in getting trippy could be beneficial for the collective mental health of America. There are plenty of studies that highlight the improvement LSD has to offer to the human psyche, like helping to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, enhance emotional empathy, and helping treat alcoholism.

“It just shows that LSD is not that harmful drug that everyone makes it out to be,” Yockey said.

Amanda Push

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