(NationalUSNews.com) — Powerful psychedelic drugs are increasing in popularity as a treatment for behavioral health disorders, while the number of arrests for their illegal use is also rising.
Psilocybin, which is the primary component of what is commonly known as “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms,” is a hallucinogenic chemical found in certain mushrooms. The distorted senses and euphoric feelings that result from its use are similar to the effects of LSD, leading to its increasing use as a recreational drug.
In June 2023, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began laying the groundwork for the normalization of psychedelics for behavioral health disorder treatment. Although the federal agency has yet to approve psilocybin for treatment of any medical condition, some evidence pointing to its positive impact on depression and substance abuse has made psychedelics less prone to controversies that surround other powerful drugs like medical marijuana.
However, psilocybin has been the focus of a rising number of arrests due to its illegal possession and use. A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health revealed that the number of arrests rose almost 3.5 times between 2017 and 2022.
The data found that psilocybin resulted in 1,396 arrests in 2022, but only 402 in 2017. Possession of the substance is becoming more decriminalized in individual states, but the increase in arrests may point to the fact that more Americans are using psilocybin recreationally instead of for medical reasons.
The substance is considered the most commonly used psychedelic from plants, as over 11 percent of individuals over the age of 12 reported using it in 2022. According to the data, which was collected by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the highest number of individual busts related to the substance have taken place in the Midwest, and the West saw the most seizures of the substance itself.
Nora Volkow, director of NIDA, said in a statement that the next steps related to the abuse of psychedelics are to “continue” tracking data and emphasize “accurate education” about the risks associated with such drugs.
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