A fresh perspective on the use of the common hallucinogens LSD, “magic mushrooms,” and mescaline in the U.S.
While it’s not surprising to hear about the hippies of the 1970s experimenting with psychedelic drugs, or hallucinogens, a new study shows that an estimated 32 million people in the U.S. have used LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), “magic mushrooms” (psilocybin), or mescaline (peyote and other cacti) at some point in their lives, many in the recent past.
To take a closer look at psychedelic use today, researchers Teri S. Krebs and Pål-Ørjan Johansen of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology used data from a randomly selected sample of more than 57,000 individuals ages 12 and older who were questioned for the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
According to Krebs and Johansen’s study, the rate of lifetime psychedelic use was highest among people ages 30 to 34, with higher rates in men than in women. The authors also found that older adults were more likely to have used LSD and mescaline, whereas younger adults were more likely to have used “magic mushrooms.”
Misconceptions about Psychedelic Use
“In our experience, people are surprised about the high rate of psychedelic use in the U.S.,” Krebs said in an interview with Healthline.
Her study differs from previous research done on the use of psychedelics in that it incorporates data from a large population study and focuses specifically on the three classic psychedelics: “shrooms,” LSD, and mescaline.
“Prevalence data on psychedelic use in the U.S. is often reported for LSD alone, or for psychedelics grouped together with PCP (popular in the 1970s), MDMA (popular since the 1990s), and/or other ‘hallucinogens,’” the authors wrote. According to the study, “older estimates of hallucinogen use also included cannabis, amphetamine, and cocaine as hallucinogenic drugs,” or focused on psychedelic use among teenagers, rather than adults.