People of color in North America report improvements in racial trauma and mental health symptoms following psychedelic experiences

This study examined how psychedelics reduced symptoms of racial trauma among black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) subsequent to an experience of racism. A cross-sectional internet-based survey included questions about experiences with racism, mental health symptoms, and acute and enduring psychedelic effects. Changes in mental health were assessed by retrospective report of symptoms in the 30 days before and 30 days after an experience with psilocybin, Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), or 3,4- Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). We recruited 313 diverse BIPOC in the US and Canada.


Results revealed a significant (p < .001) and moderate (d = -  .45) reduction in traumatic stress symptoms from before-to-after the psychedelic experience. Similarly, participants reported decreases in depression (p < .001; d = - .52), anxiety (p < .001; d = - .53), and stress (p < .001; d = -  .32). There was also a significant relationship (Rc =  0.52, p < .001) between the dimension of acute psychedelic effects (mysticaltype, insight, and challenging experiences) and decreases in a cluster of subsequent psychopathology (traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, and stress), while controlling for the frequency of prior discrimination and the time since the psychedelic experience. BIPOC have been underrepresented in psychedelic studies. Psychedelics may decrease the negative impact of racial trauma. Future studies should examine the efficacy of psychedelic-assisted therapy for individuals with a history of race-based trauma.


Monnica T. Williams , Alan K. Davis , Yitong Xin , Nathan D. Sepeda , Pamela Colón Grigas , Sinead Sinnott & Angela M. Haeny | 2020
In: Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy ; ISSN: 0968-7637
Epub ahead of print DOI : 10.1080/09687637.2020.1854688
African Americans, Anxiety Disorders, Anxiety Symptoms, Comorbidity, Depressive Disorders, Depressive Symptoms, Drug Abuse, Epidemiology, Ethnic Identity, Hallucinogenic Drugs, Mental health, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Research