Magic Mushrooms And LSD Could Curb Domestic Violence, Researchers Say

Magic mushrooms and LSD have the potential to curb domestic violence, specifically intimate partner violence, or IPV, according to researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health.

Associate Professor Dr. Peter S. Hendricks says hallucinogens such as psilocybin, which is found in magic mushrooms, and LSD likely have therapeutic potential that can reduce incidences of this form of domestic violence. He says that investigating this protective factor is important for public health research.

"A body of evidence suggests that substances such as psilocybin may have a range of clinical indications," Hendricks 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. Often, people are struck by the realization that behaving with compassion and kindness toward others is high on the list of what matters."

The researchers examined men aged 17-40 in the criminal justice system. In all, the study followed 302 men.

"Of the 56 percent of participants who reported using hallucinogens, only 27 percent were arrested for later IPV, as opposed to 42 percent of the group who reported no hallucinogen use being arrested for IPV within seven years," according to a university press release. "From the 1950s through the early 1970s, thousands of studies reported on the medical use of hallucinogens, mostly LSD. Due to the classification of the most prominent hallucinogens as Schedule I controlled substances in 1970, research on health benefits was suspended, causing many of these studies to be forgotten."

Research with hallucinogens like LSD and magic mushrooms is now getting a second chance. Hendricks says that recent studies indicate that using psilocybin and related compounds "could revolutionize the mental health field" and have major impacts on curbing domestic violence, according to Science Daily.This correlates with an earlier study from about three years ago conducted by the University of South Florida, which found that low doses of the active ingredient in magic mushrooms can repair brain damage caused by extreme trauma, according to Tampa Bay Times.
"Psilocybin or a similar substance in the right dosages could potentially help someone dealing with anxiety or addictions. It could have potential to lessen the suffering of, say, a soldier who associated loud noises with the trauma of war. Or a drug addict tempted to use when returning to the place where he used before."
The University of South Florida magic mushroom study found it could be a useful treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and anxiety.

Researchers at the Imperial College London separately found that that psilocybin in "shrooms" stimulates new brain cell growth. That study found that it might even be able to overwrite frightening memories.

"The study found that under psilocybin, activity in the more primitive brain network linked to emotional thinking became more pronounced, with several different areas in this network -- such as the hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex -- active at the same time. This pattern of activity is similar to the pattern observed in people who are dreaming. Conversely, volunteers who had taken psilocybin had more disjointed and uncoordinated activity in the brain network that is linked to high-level thinking, including self-consciousness."
Another study, this one published in the journal Neurology, found other therapeutic uses for drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms. They looked at 53 cluster headache patients who had used either psilocybin or LSD to treat their cluster headaches. Psilocybin users reported aborted cluster headaches from using the drug. In fact, 22 out of 26 of them successfully stopped their cluster headaches from using this magic mushroom component. Over half of the psilocybin users and seven of the eight LSD users reported the termination of their cluster headaches from use. Surprisingly, almost 95 percent of the psilocybin users and 80 percent of the LSD users reported that their remission period between cluster headaches was extended from using these hallucinogenic drugs.

In the National Institute of Health's library, another study claimed that when psilocybin was administered under supportive conditions, users experienced "spontaneously occurring mystical experiences that, at 14-month follow-up, were considered by volunteers to be among the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant of their lives."

While these drugs are currently illegal in the United States, a growing body of evidence indicates that LSD and magic mushrooms, as well as similar illegal substances, might have extreme therapeutic potential, and the newest research correlating the use of these drugs with a decrease in intimate domestic violence re-occurrence extends this potential benefit into the criminal justice sphere, as well.

[Photo by Psychonaught | Public Domain]