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Bad trips ain’t all that bad

New research brings new light on whether “bad” trips deserve the negative press

Research at the John Hopkins University shows participants recalling bad trips from ‘shrooms’ felt like it had a positive impact on their lives. A study led by Roland Griffiths surveyed 1,993 adults found on psychedelic forums and social media groups about their experiences with bad trips. All results are of course anecdotal, so take this with a pinch of salt, but the results are rather interesting nonetheless.

Magic Mushrooms, or Psilocybin mushrooms as they’re known by boring people in lab coats, is one of the oldest drugs around. Thought to have been used since prehistoric times, the drug only recently became illegal in the UK in 2005, despite no strong evidence of it being exceptionally harmful.

Now to the research: 84% of the people who had experienced a bad trip said they benefitted from the experience. 34% of participants said their trip was in the top five of their most meaningful experiences with 31% saying it was in the top five of their most spiritual. 76% said the bad trip resulted in a stronger sense of life satisfaction while 46% said they would be willing to experience this traumatising experience all over again.

However it’s not all rainbows, 62% of people said their trip was in their top ten most psychologically difficult situations ever experienced while 11% put it as their number one. The study also found that bad trips can have severe consequences. 11% of participants put either themselves or others into risk of physical harm while 2.6% became aggressive or violent. 3% looked for medical help while three cases experienced enduring and impairing psychotic symptoms. Shockingly, three participants attempted suicide.

In response to that, the degree of psychological difficulty had a correlation with better outcomes. Increasingly challenging experiences were normally seen as more beneficial or meaningful. Though bad trips which were sustained for longer periods of time were associated with less positive outcomes.

This research is very interesting: it seems to imply maybe the drug itself is causing lasting positive effects regardless of the experience one went through once ingested. It also shows that the drug can be dangerous – the sample covered 1,993 bad trips and out of these,  there were three cases of attempted suicide and three cases of long-lasting negative effects. This shows that there is a danger.

With more research also piling in on the ability of psychedelics to combat depression and certain conditions such as chronic cluster headaches, the discussion over legality may soon come to the forefront of formal discussion.

Image: Wikipedia

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