Summary: Men who have prior experience with psychedelic drugs have a reduced likelihood of engaging in violence against their partner, a new study reports.
Source: University of British Columbia.
In a new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, researchers from UBC’s Okanagan campus have discovered that men who have used psychedelic drugs in the past have a lower likelihood of engaging in violence against their intimate partners.
“Although use of certain drugs like alcohol, methamphetamine or cocaine is associated with increased aggression and partner violence, use of psychedelics appears to have the opposite effect,” says clinical psychology graduate student and study lead author Michelle Thiessen. “We found that among men who have used psychedelics one or more times, the odds of engaging in partner violence was reduced by roughly half. That’s significant.”
Psychedelic drugs act on serotonin receptors in the brain. Classic psychedelics include lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin (magic mushrooms), mescaline, and dimethyltryptamine (DMT). The effects vary but can produce mystical experiences and changes in perception, emotion, cognition and the sense of self. Classic psychedelics are not considered to be addictive.
“Previous research from our lab that looked at men in the criminal justice system found that hallucinogen users were substantially less likely to perpetrate violence against their intimate partners,” notes UBC professor and supervising author Zach Walsh. “Our new study is important because it suggests that these effects might also apply to the general population”
Thiessen, Walsh and colleagues Adele LaFrance and Brian Bird from Laurentian University based their results on an anonymous online survey of 1,266 people recruited from universities and through social media. Respondents were asked to disclose their lifetime use of LSD and psilocybin mushrooms and then complete a questionnaire that assessed multiple aspects of their emotion regulation.
“Past research found a clear association between psychedelic drug use and reduced partner violence, but the reasons for this effect remained unclear,” says Thiessen. “We found that better ability to manage negative emotions may help explain why the hallucinogen users were less violent.”
Thiessen says that her results could one day lead to novel treatments to reduce violence.
“These findings add to the literature on the positive use of psychedelics and suggest that future research should explore the potential for psychedelic therapies to help address the international public health priority of reducing domestic violence.”
Funding: The study was published with funding in part from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Source: Nathan Skolski – University of British Columbia
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
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Original Research: Abstract for “Psychedelic use and intimate partner violence: The role of emotion regulation” by Michelle S Thiessen, Zach Walsh, Brian M Bird, and dele Lafrance in Journal of Psychopharmacology. Published May 29 2018.
Psychedelic use and intimate partner violence: The role of emotion regulation
Recent evidence suggests that psychedelic use predicts reduced perpetration of intimate partner violence among men involved in the criminal justice system. However, the extent to which this association generalizes to community samples has not been examined, and potential mechanisms underlying this association have not been directly explored.
The present study examined the association between lifetime psychedelic use and intimate partner violence among a community sample of men and women. The study also tested the extent to which the associations were mediated by improved emotion regulation.
We surveyed 1266 community members aged 16–70 (mean age=22.78, standard deviation=7.71) using an online questionnaire that queried substance use, emotional regulation, and intimate partner violence. Respondents were coded as psychedelic users if they reported one or more instance of using lysergic acid diethylamide and/or psilocybin mushrooms in their lifetime.
Males reporting any experience using lysergic acid diethylamide and/or psilocybin mushrooms had decreased odds of perpetrating physical violence against their current partner (odds ratio=0.42, p<0.05). Furthermore, our analyses revealed that male psychedelic users reported better emotion regulation when compared to males with no history of psychedelic use. Better emotion regulation mediated the relationship between psychedelic use and lower perpetration of intimate partner violence. This relationship did not extend to females within our sample.
These findings extend prior research showing a negative relationship between psychedelic use and intimate partner violence, and highlight the potential role of emotion regulation in this association.