Health

Why Alcohol Is Worse for You Than Psychedelics

May 15th 2015

By:
Laura Donovan

A recent study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology observed 19,000 psychedelic-using Americans and identified no link between psychedelics and mental health problems.

"We failed to find evidence that psychedelic use is an independent risk factor for mental health problems," the report reads. "Psychedelics are not known to harm the brain or other body organs or to cause addiction or compulsive use."

"Overall, it is difficult to see how prohibition of psychedelics can be justified as a public health measure," the report concluded.

Dr. Howard Forman, medical director of the Addiction Consultation Service at Montefiore Medical Center, recently told Medical Daily that it's important to remember that many of the study subjects had experimented with other, more harmful drugs in addition to psychedelics. Even so, Dr. Forman said it wouldn't be too shocking if therapists considered prescribing psychedelics to patients someday. Some researchers are already exploring the benefits of using MDMA to treat PTSD.

“Are psychedelic class medications ready for prime-time? I don't think so,” Dr. Forman said. “Might they become essential parts of the psychiatrist's toolbox in the future given proper oversight? That can't be ruled out.”

Psychedelics vs. alcohol.

Study lead Teri Krebs wrote in the research paper that the impact of psychedelics is often positive. However, the same cannot be said for alcohol, which many use to self-medicate for depression and other mental health issues. As the American Psychological Association warns, alcohol abuse and alcoholism can increase a person's depression and bring on new problems such as memory loss and anxiety.

“Many people report deeply meaningful experiences and lasting beneficial effects from using psychedelics,” Krebs wrote. "Drug experts consistently rank LSD and psilocybin mushrooms as much less harmful to the individual user and to society compared to alcohol and other controlled substances."

But Americans love their booze. Last month, ATTN: reported on a new study revealing a 17.5 percent spike in binge drinking among women between 2005 and 2012. The same study found a nearly five percent increase in male binge drinking in that same time period.

“We are seeing some very alarming trends in alcohol over-consumption, especially among women,” said Dr. Ali Mokdad, a lead author of the study.

Unlike recreational drug use in most states, drinking is a legal way to relax and engage with friends, but it has seriously negative health effects such as liver cirrhosis and heart disease. That's why feminist writer Jessica Valenti recently suggested in a column that women swap alcohol with marijuana, which is far less harmful.

"I’m not advocating that women break out the bong and start a daily weed habit, but if you’re going to use a substance on a regular basis, it seems clear that marijuana use does significantly less damage than drinking," Valenti wrote in her Guardian piece. "Especially if you’re using it to help quell anxiety issues."

Earlier this year, research conducted by Scientific Reports revealed alcohol is 114 times more dangerous than weed. As the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found, 10.8 million men and 5.8 million women had an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)​​ in 2013. Every year, nearly 90,000 people die from alcohol-related causes, and in there were 10,076 deaths​ brought on by alcohol-impaired driving fatalities​ in 2013.