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Psychedelics Not Linked To Lasting Mental Health Issues, Scientists Say

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Researchers in Norway revealed some interesting findings about the use of psychedelics (such as this hallucinogenic 'magic mushroom' held by a fruit seller) and mental health. | Getty
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LSD may cause some strange hallucinations, but does it have lasting effects on your mental health? Norwegian researchers say no.

Adding to a growing body of research centering on psychedelics and mental health issues, a team of scientists from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found using hallucinogenic drugs does not raise a person's risk for mental health problems.

"Overall, there is a lack of evidence that psychedelics cause lasting mental health problems," Dr. Teri S. Krebs, who conducted the study along with her department of neuroscience colleague Pål-Ørjan Johansen, told The Huffington Post. She also said she was not surprised by the findings.

The researchers drew data from the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health, analyzing findings from 130,152 randomly selected survey participants. And nearly 22,000 of the respondents said they had tried a psychedelic drug at least once in their lives.

"We found no relation between lifetime use of psychedelics and any undesirable past year mental health outcomes," the researchers wrote in their study, which was published online Monday in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One.

Krebs and Johansen discovered several cases in which use of a psychedelic drug was linked to a lower rate of mental health problems, measured by history of treatments and psychiatric medication prescriptions.

"There were a number of weak associations between use of any psychedelic or use of specific psychedelics and lower rate of mental health problems," they wrote in the study. "[B]etter initial mental health among people who use psychedelics, or chance 'false positive' findings," may be factors, but the associations may also show the beneficial effects of such use.

LSD, for example, recently has been tested as a treatment for alcoholism. In a 2012 study, also led by Krebs, a single dose of the hallucinogenic drug was linked to a decrease in alcoholic misuse for subjects in treatment programs.

Psilocybin, the main ingredient in magic mushrooms or 'shrooms, may also help people with depression, past research has suggested. Researchers in the United Kingdom are currently trying to test the hallucinogenic treatments in human clinical trials but have hit some legal roadblocks.

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PLOS ONE: Psychedelics and Mental Health: A Population Study