Thursday, October 12, 2023

LSD Use Rising Among Adults, Especially Those With Depression

There are signs that U.S. adults are increasingly using lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). A report in JAMA Psychiatry now suggests that between 2008 and 2019 a disproportionate percentage of young adults with depression reported past-year LSD use.

“Although LSD use may prove beneficial for some individuals, there can also be adverse consequences, particularly in medically unsupervised settings,” wrote Claire A. Walsh, M.A., and Deborah S. Hasin, Ph.D., of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and colleagues. “[U]nderstanding trends in the association between LSD use and depression in unsupervised, nonmedical settings has become an important public health issue.”

Walsh and colleagues analyzed responses of 478,492 adults aged 18 years or older who completed the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2008 and 2019. The overall number of adults who reported past-year LSD use increased significantly during this time, from 0.2% in 2008 to 0.9% in 2019. Overall, the prevalence of past-year LSD use increased significantly among adults with or without depression regardless of the participants’ race/ethnicity, age, sex, education, and more.

Among adults who reported past-year depression, the prevalence of past-year LSD use rose from 0.5% in 2008 to 1.8% in 2019. Among adults ages 18 to 25 with depression, the prevalence of past-year LSD use rose from 1.6% in 2008 to 4.9% in 2019.

“Disproportionate increases in LSD use among those with depression occurred in parallel with increases in the prevalence of major depression in the past decade, with diagnoses of past-year depression among U.S. adults increasing from 13.7 million in 2005 to 17.5 million in 2018,” the authors wrote. “If the rates of depression continue to increase in tandem with popular media and research reports presenting psychedelics as beneficial, the number of individuals who use LSD in the context of major depression will likely continue to increase.”

To read more about this topic, see the Psychiatric News article “Experts Offer Tips on Talking With Patients About Psychedelics.”

(Image: iStock/shironosov)

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