Lower Domestic Violence Rate Among Psychedelic Drug Users

Rain-soaked street with blurred lights in the backgroundMen with a history of substance abuse might be less likely to abuse their partners if they use psychedelic drugs, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Recent studies have explored potential mental health benefits associated with psychedelic drugs. In 2015, one study identified a potential link between psychedelic drugs and a decrease in suicidal thoughts. Psychedelic drugs alter perceptions and cognition, with some producing hallucinations or delusions. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA/Ecstasy), and psilocybin mushrooms are among the most common psychedelics.

Psychedelic Drug Users May Have Lower Risk of Intimate Partner Violence

Researchers followed 302 male inmates for an average of six years following their release. Each participant had previously been incarcerated at a United States county jail and had a prior history of substance abuse, though not necessarily of psychedelic drugs.

Forty-two percent of participants who did not take psychedelic drugs were arrested for domestic violence within six years of their release, compared to 27% of those who had taken psychedelic drugs.

How Might Psychedelic Drugs Change Behavior?

The study was not a clinical trial, and researchers did not directly test whether or how psychedelics changed users’ behavior. They suggest the correlation between psychedelic use and a lower risk of violence might be due to changes in thought patterns.

According to the study’s authors, domestic violence often occurs when abusers externalize their emotions or fears onto intimate partners. Psychedelic use could reduce this tendency. Many psychedelic users report transcendent spiritual experiences that produce positive emotions of unity and connectedness. These experiences could change how users behave toward their partners.

Despite recent interest in the effects of psychedelics, research on their mental health effects has slowed due to the drugs’ classification as Schedule I drugs, which are defined as drugs that have the highest potential for abuse with no accepted medical use. Some psychiatrists have recently called for the reclassification of these drugs, because such a reclassification would make them more accessible to researchers.


  1. Drug scheduling. (n.d.). United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Retrieved from http://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml
  2. UBC study finds psychedelic drugs may reduce domestic violence. (2016, April 26). Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-04/uobc-usf042516.php
  3. Walsh, Z., Hendricks, P. S., Smith, S., Kosson, D. S., Thiessen, M. S., Lucas, P., & Swogger, M. T. (2016). Hallucinogen use and intimate partner violence: Prospective evidence consistent with protective effects among men with histories of problematic substance use. Journal of Psychopharmacology. doi:10.1177/0269881116642538

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  • Ted

    April 28th, 2016 at 10:42 AM

    Maybe it is the type of person that chooses this kind of drug that makes the difference instead of the drug making them more mellow. Well I mean the drug obviously does that but maybe the person who likes these kinds of drugs is already more of the mellow type who would never consider being a violent person anyway.

  • joanie

    April 28th, 2016 at 2:14 PM

    I hope that this is not meant to advocate for the even more widespread legalization of these drugs?

  • nathan

    April 29th, 2016 at 10:17 AM

    I wonder how different overall our society would be if more of us had a much more open minded approach to the things that we have all been told is so bad so we have willingly swallowed that for so long that there seems to be no room for anything else at this time?
    I mean, I think that the longer we go it is easy to see that there is significant research that shows that not all drug use is bad for us, and that in fact some of it can actually be pretty beneficial but there are just many who are still not willing to accept that.

  • Nita

    April 30th, 2016 at 1:17 PM

    So there we have it.
    The violent offenders do not need rehabilitation, they simply need drug therapy?

  • Lowe

    May 2nd, 2016 at 10:14 AM

    I am not that sure how I feel about making the more accessible to just the general public, but to have them more accessible to researchers and for things like this, I think that could be a pretty beneficial thing. There has to be some way for them to legally obtain them to be able to get the most scientific benefit out of the research.

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