Psychedelics and psychological strengths




Classical psychedelics appear efficacious in improving psychological well-being in randomized clinical trials, but their effects in the population at large are relatively unknown. In the present paper, which includes three studies conducted by online survey with a collective 3,157 participants, classical psychedelic users showed greater psychological strengths and well-being, and lower levels of distress, after controlling for demographic variables, respondents’ beliefs about the potential benefits of psychedelics, and their use of other psychoactive drugs. These benefits contrast with patterns for cannabis and alcohol users, both of whom showed comparatively maladaptive profiles. Reported relationships between psychedelic use and the combined index of psychological strengths was fully mediated by self-transcendence. We show an effect of motivation for psychedelic use, where those who reported a ‘growth’ motivation showed the most robustly adaptive psychological profile. Psychedelic users reported more lifetime meditation experience, and within psychedelic users, greater frequency of use correlated with greater hours of lifetime seated meditation practice. Meditation experience did not account for the differences in strengths, well-being, and distress. In these studies, psychedelic users showed an adaptive psychological pattern on a wider array of strengths than previously studied, which were not attributable to several salient covariates. While causality cannot be inferred from this study, findings align with and advance past research which provides evidence for the potential benefits associated with psychedelics.


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Author Biographies

Trey Brasher, Stockton University

Researcher, Neuropsychology of Well-being Laboratory, Stockton University, NJ, United States

David Rosen

Associate Professor, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Stockton University, NJ, United States

Marcello Spinella

Professor, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Stockton University, NJ, United States



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