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LSD Tied to Worse Mental Health After Job Loss

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Lifetime LSD use is associated with a higher likelihood of severe psychological distress after losing one’s job, according to a new study published this week in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Benjamin Korman, formerly of the University of Konstanz, Germany.

Previous studies have found that people who use psychedelics such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) score higher than non-users on scales of favorable psychological traits. However, whether this translates to better resilience during stressful life events has been unclear.

The new work used publicly available data from the 2008-2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health on the United States civilian, non-institutionalized population. Dr. Korman analyzed data from 15,854 adults who had been employed within the past year but, at the time of the survey, were unemployed and searching for work.

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520 respondents included in the analysis reported having used LSD prior to their job loss. These individuals were roughly 1.6 to 1.7 times more likely to report subsequent severe psychological distress within the past month compared to those who did not report such LSD use. Similarly, prior LSD use was associated with greater symptoms of (non-severe) psychological distress within the past month. These associations held true even after controlling for sociodemographic variables.

Dr. Korman says that the current study failed to find evidence that LSD grants users psychological resilience to future stressors. However, he also notes that the study could not control for the timing between LSD use and job loss. In addition, the results cannot be extrapolated to draw conclusions about other types of psychedelics, other types of life stressors, or the clinical use of LSD.

Dr. Korman adds: “This study brings into question previous findings linking classic psychedelic use to psychological strengths and resilience by demonstrating that prior use of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is associated with greater psychological distress following later job loss.”

Reference: KormanI BA. Does LSD confer lasting psychological resilience? an investigation of naturalistic users experiencing job loss. PLOS ONE. 2024. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0304991

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