Psychedelic drugs may help reduce domestic violence, say researchers

Toronto: Researchers have found more evidence that psychedelic drugs, whose primary action is to alter the thought processes of the brain, may help curb domestic violence committed by men with substance abuse problems.

Representational image. Getty images

Representational image. Getty images

While research on the benefits of psychedelic drugs 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.

"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," said one of the researchers Zach Walsh, associate professor at University of British Columbia in Canada.

"As existing treatments for intimate partner violence are insufficient, we need to take new perspectives such as this seriously," Walsh noted.

The researchers found that 42 per cent of US 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.

"Intimate partner violence is a major public health problem and existing treatments to reduce reoffending are insufficient," Walsh said.

"With proper dosage, set, and setting we might see even more profound effects. This definitely warrants further research," he noted.

The findings appeared in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Earlier, Peter Hendricks from the University of Alabama, had said: "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."

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

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Updated Date: Apr 26, 2016 13:29:26 IST

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