Study: Psilocybin Seizures and Middle Age Use Surge
TDR Three Key Takeaways:
- Seizures Escalate: U.S. law enforcement seizures of psilocybin mushrooms have increased from 402 to 1,396 between 2017 and 2022, with seized weights rising from 226 kg to 844 kg, indicating a larger presence, especially in the Midwest and West.
- Middle-aged Usage Grows: Usage among adults 35-50 is up, with 11.3% of those over 12 reporting use in 2022, many seeking health benefits through non-legal avenues, showing a trend toward health-focused rather than recreational use.
- Health Risks and Law Changes: With medical interest in psilocybin’s therapeutic potential growing, non-medical use carries risks such as psychological distress. The study suggests the need for ongoing scrutiny of psilocybin’s availability and effects due to changing legalities.
Yesterday, a study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse was released, highlighting the increase in seizures of psilocybin mushrooms in the USA. Below, I’ve summarized the study, but what particularly stood out to me were the statistics on the rise in use among middle-aged individuals. These people are exploring the potential health benefits of mushrooms through underground channels, not willing to wait for legalization or decriminalization, depending on their location in the United States. These middle-aged users are not seeking recreational experiences; rather, they are individuals looking for help, potentially in environments that are not ideal, with untrained individuals, due to widespread government policies and regulation.
Summary of the Study in the below three paragraphs:
The study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, reveals a significant increase in law enforcement seizures of psilocybin mushrooms, commonly known as “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms,” in the United States from January 2017 to December 2022. The data shows a rise from 402 seizures in 2017 to 1,396 in 2022, with the total weight of seized psilocybin mushrooms growing from 226 kg (498 lbs) in 2017 to 844 kg (1,861 lbs) in 2022. The Midwest and the West emerged as the most common regions for these seizures, indicating a widespread presence of these substances across the country.
Conducted by researchers at NYU Langone Health and the University of Florida, the study utilized data from the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program. While seizures do not directly reflect the prevalence of use, they serve as an indicator of the availability of illicit drugs. Psilocybin mushrooms, categorized under psychedelic and dissociative drugs, have experienced an increase in use among adults aged 35-50 in recent years, with 11.3% of individuals aged 12 or older in the U.S. reporting having used psilocybin in 2022. Despite lacking FDA approval for any medical treatment, there’s a growing interest in researching psilocybin’s potential to treat mental health disorders within a therapeutic framework.
The increase in recreational use of psilocybin, outside of medical or research settings, carries potential risks, including adverse effects like “bad trips,” characterized by distorted thinking, perceptual changes, and intense feelings of fear, anxiety, and confusion. The decriminalization of psilocybin possession at the state level across the U.S. may influence this nonmedical use. Researchers have noted the variability in law enforcement efforts and the limitations of the HIDTA program data, underlining the importance of ongoing tracking of psilocybin availability, usage patterns, and associated health effects.
Back to my comments:
Interestingly, at the bottom of the news release, there’s a footnote offering help for individuals who might have a substance use disorder. This is particularly intriguing because psilocybin mushrooms are currently being studied for their potential as a solution for substance use disorder. We will keep everyone up to date on developments in the psychedelic field. Want to keep up to date with all of TDR’s research, subscribe to our daily Baked In newsletter.