More and more Americans have been taking LSD in the past 5 years – and it’s not the kids. A recent paper published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and found that between 2015 and 2018, LSD use in American adults rose by 56 percent. The most significant increases occurred among participants aged 35 to 49, with a 223 percent increase in LSD use (from 3 percent to 9 percent), and participants aged 26 to 34, who reported 59 percent more use (from 20 percent to 31 percent).
Lead researcher Andrew Yockey, a doctoral candidate in health education at the University of Cincinnati, was quoted in Scientific American about the findings, saying, “LSD is used primarily to escape. And given that the world’s on fire, people might be using it as a therapeutic mechanism.” Now that Covid-19 has added to those flames, Yockey speculates that LSD usage has “probably tripled.”
“What else could have happened between 2015 and 2018 that could have explained this increase?” Yockey tells Lucid News, referencing the 2016 election of President Donald Trump, and “what he has done to a nation, just a bunch of corruption.” Yockey, whose main research focus is substance use prevention, points out that the same research showed an increase in heroin and Fentanyl deaths. The total number of people in the United States who report taking LSD any given year is still less than one percent, even accounting for these increases.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health does not ask responders their reasons for taking a given drug, or the size of their dose, so the reasons for the rise in LSD use are unclear. The increased popularity of microdosing in culture, especially in the world of Silicon Valley’s “peak performance” where many people use LSD to boost creativity and productivity, is likely at least partially responsible.
The paper acknowledges LSD has been used to “treat severe psychological disorders in several clinical applications,” and Yockey says he is aware many people use LSD for introspection. He also points out that, while the research on LSD is limited, some previous research (including one 1970 study by Smart and Jones) evaluated a sample of 100 LSD users and found the group showed “a greater tendency or desire” toward “escapism” than the nonuser control group.
When it comes to the medical potential of LSD, “a lot of the newest research is just speculation. We don’t know why people are using this drug,” says Yockey.
DanceSafe, a harm reduction organization that promotes safety in the electronic music community, has also seen an increased interest in LSD.
“It’s hard to know what a person is testing, since we obviously don’t ask,” says DanceSafe cofounder Mitchell Gomez, referring to drug testing kits the organization provides, “but there’s been a noticeable increase in questions about testing LSD, for sure.”