Young People Are Really Into Their Shrooms These Days

From 2018 to 2021, young adults' use of hallucinogens nearly doubled
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2023 10:30 AM CDT
Young People Are Really Into Their Shrooms These Days
In this Aug. 3, 2007, file photo, "magic" mushrooms are seen in a grow room at a farm in Hazerswoude, Netherlands.   (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

Not in several decades have young adults in the United States done so much tripping on hallucinogens. That's the upshot of a new study that found the use of such mind-altering drugs nearly doubled from 2018 to 2021. According to research published in the journal Addiction, based on stats from the "Monitoring the Future" study, 6.6% of subjects ages 19 to 30 used non-LSD hallucinogens of some sort (such as PCP and psilocybin mushrooms, aka "magic" mushrooms), up from 3.4% three years earlier. LSD use also saw a rise in that same period, albeit a more modest one, jumping from 3.7% to 4.2% among the same demographic.

Usage of non-LSD drugs was most prevalent among males, white subjects, and individuals whose parents have a higher educational status, per Medscape. The Hill reports that in 2021, about 8% of young adults used hallucinogens, the highest share since the 1980s. For context, in 1971, which was prime psychedelics time in America, a Gallup poll found that 18% of college students had dabbled in hallucinogens. In addition to the stigma of recreational drugs decreasing over the past few years, largely thanks to the legalization of cannabis around the nation, hallucinogens used therapeutically has also given shrooms and similar drugs a big boost. At least one state, Oregon, is even starting to train magic mushroom "facilitators" to help patients using psilocybin.

Still, scientists warn about the issues associated with the growing use of this type of drug. "While non-LSD hallucinogen use remains substantially less prevalent than use of substances such as alcohol and cannabis, a doubling of prevalence in just three years is a dramatic increase and raises possible public health concerns," study co-author Megan Patrick of the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research tells Medscape. Among those concerns about "bad trips," per a 2016 study: fear, paranoia, hallucinations, increased heart rate, aggression, and even depression or risk of suicide. "This isn't all just peace, love, and light," Sion Harris, an associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, tells the Hill. "There's the potential to have bad reactions." (More magic mushrooms stories.)

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