New Study Shows Psychedelics Make People Less Violent

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New Study Shows Psychedelics Make People Less Violent

How to cut down on crime rates? Easy: just hand out psychedelics such as magic mushrooms, LSD, or peyote! Well, not quite. However, a new study performed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that people who used psychedelics are less likely to be arrested for violent and criminal behaviour.

Taking psychedelics such as magic mushrooms, LSD, or mescaline may lead to a decreased likelihood of antisocial criminal behaviour according to a new study performed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The research, titled "The relationships of classic psychedelic use with criminal behavior in the United States adult population," has been published  in Sage Publishing's Journal of Psychopharmacology. The findings of the study suggest that psychedelic drugs have the potential to reduce criminal behaviour by making people less violent and less likely to commit theft, assault, or property damage.

For their study, the team at UAB used data from 480,000 responses that the National Survey on Drug Use and Health had collected over the past 13 years. Participants answered questions about drug use, as well as crimes/arrests. Interestingly, those who had taken hard drugs like heroin, cocaine, or ecstasy were found to be more likely to commit violent crimes.

Study participants who used psychedelics, however, were found to be 27% less likely to commit theft, 22% less likely to commit property crime, and 18% less likely to be arrested for violent crime as compared to those who had never taken the drugs.

Peter Hendricks, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Health Behaviour at the UAB School of Public Health asserts, “These findings, coupled with both older and emerging bodies of evidence, make a case that classic psychedelics may provide enduring benefits for criminal justice populations. They certainly suggest that clinical research with classic psychedelics in forensic settings should be considered.”

He continues to say that the positive effects of psychedelic drug use appear to be reliable, calling the team’s findings a “compelling rationale" for more clinical research.


Despite violent crimes like assault and murder comprising only 5% of arrests, it is still a huge big burden on society. Victims often face significant mental health issues or disabilities, which can severely affect their lives forever. Add to this the enormous financial costs. In the United States, each murder case costs the country an average of $9 million.


Studies on psychedelic drugs and violent behaviour are nothing new. In the past, several similar studies were performed on convicted criminals, although these older results are mostly inconclusive.

The researchers from the University of Alabama warn against mandated psychedelic-assisted treatment and see it as generally ineffective. Studies using psychedelics such as those with prisoners until the 1970s should serve as a cautionary tale, according to the authors.


In the United States and many other countries, psychedelics such as LSD and mescaline are illegal. This means that researchers will find it quite difficult to get funding. However, the UAB researchers hope their results will open the door to more clinical research into the use of psychedelics to prevent crime.

The research team appears to genuinely believe that the “protective effects” of psychedelic use can reduce antisocial criminal behavior. Furthermore, they believe said effects to be reliable and particularly worthy of study, especially given the tremendous fiscal and emotional costs of violent crime.