LSD and 'Magic' Mushrooms May Be the Key to Keeping You Out of Prison

While psychedelic drugs have been used for years as a method of treatment for conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a new study shows that the correct use of LSD and other hallucinogens may keep people from returning to prison.

The research was conducted on more than 25,000 people currently under community corrections supervision, and is the first in 40 years to attempt to discover whether drugs like mushrooms and LSD might help reform those convicted of crimes. For five years, starting in 2002, the researchers at University of Alabama at Birmingham and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine collected data from individuals with a history of drug use, specifically those currently under supervision in Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities (TASC) programs.

A mere one percent of those in the program that served as test cases were eventually diagnosed with any sort of hallucinogen-use disorder. According to Raw Story, cannabis use disorder, cocaine use disorders, and alcohol use disorders were the most common diagnoses of the subjects tested. 

“Offenders may be especially likely to benefit from hallucinogen treatment because involvement in the criminal justice system often results from drug-seeking behavior and impulse conduct exacerbated by compulsive substance use,” the researchers from the university in charge of the study said when their study was published in the January issue of the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Researchers have been studying psychedelic substances since the 1950s, when studies indicated that the drugs could be combined with psychotherapy as a method of treating such conditions as alcoholism and drug addiction. But in the 1970s, the federal Controlled Substances Act halted all scientific investigations into the potential therapeutic power of LSD, psilocybin, mescaline and other psychedelic drugs. 

Now, according to Raw Story, upon restarting the process of studying the drug’s effects, researchers found that those few who were diagnosed hallucinogen-use disorder were less likely to fail the TASC program, compared to those without the disorder. The study surmised that those with hallucinogen-use disorder were “less likely to violate TASC rules or other requirements, less like to fail to appear in court, and less likely to be incarcerated.” 

“The current findings should not at all be interpreted as advocating for recreational hallucinogen use,” the researches wrote in the study. “Nevertheless, they demonstrate that, in a real-world, substance-related intervention setting, hallucinogen use is associated with a lower probability of poor outcome…we believe this calls for the continued science investigation of this unique class of substances.”

While the study controlled a large number of extraneous but nevertheless vital factors (race, employment, marital status, age, criminal history, gender, and a host of other institutionalized factors that lead some to be more statistically likely to be incarcerated than others), it marks a bold step forward in a study still in its relative infancy. 

For a weekly roundup of news and developments in the drug reform movement and the injustices stemming from prohibition, sign up to receive  AlterNet's Drugs Newsletter here. Make sure to scroll down to "Drugs" and subscribe! 


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