Study: Psychedelics Reduce Domestic Violence Rates

Psilocybe semilanceata. Image via: Yellowj | Shutterstock.


by Ocean Malandra

on April 27, 2016

Let’s get serious for a minute. A woman is beaten or assaulted every nine seconds in the United States. In fact, domestic violence is now the leading cause of injury to women in the country — more the car accidents, muggings, and rape combined. That’s deadly serious.

But what if there was a medicine that was shown to be able to cut domestic violence rates almost in half, particularly among those who have a criminal and substance abuse history?

There is. In fact, there are several. But the only problem is that they are all illegal…

A new study published by the University of British Colombia found that inmates with substance abuse problems that used psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms had only a 27 percent chance of being arrested for domestic battery within six years after being released.

While that is still a number that is far too high, released inmates of the same category that did not take psychedelic substances had a much higher rate — 42 percent.

Associate Professor Zach Walsh of the University of British Columbia. Image via:

Associate Professor Zach Walsh of the University of British Columbia. Image via:

“While not a clinical trial, this study, in stark contrast to prevailing attitudes that views these drugs as harmful, speaks to the public health potential of psychedelic medicine,” says Associate Professor Zach Walsh, the co-director for UBC Okanagan’s Centre for the Advancement of Psychological Science and Law.

“As existing treatments for intimate partner violence are insufficient, we need to take new perspectives such as this seriously,” he continues.

Unfortunately, taking these finding seriously would mean taking on the legal system, as psychedelics are classified as Schedule 1 drugs in the United States.

The irony is that one of the main criteria for the Schedule 1 designation is that the substance “has no currently accepted medical treatment use in the U.S.” However, this is far from the first study that has shown the profound medicinal benefits  of psychedelic substances — everything from cluster headaches to alcohol addiction. Indeed, in a wide variety of traditional cultures, psychedelic plants are considered the highest form of natural medicine possible. To classify them as having no medicinal value therefore is to disregard both science and history.

Psilocybe semilanceata. Image via: Yellowj | Shutterstock.

Psilocybe semilanceata. Image via: Yellowj | Shutterstock.

“Although we’re attempting to better understand how or why these substances may be beneficial, one explanation is that they can transform people’s lives by providing profoundly meaningful spiritual experiences that highlight what matters most,” says University of Alabama Associate Professor and co-author of the study Peter Hendricks.

“Often, people are struck by the realization that behaving with compassion and kindness toward others is high on the list of what matters,” say Hendricks, who predicts that psilocybin and related compounds could revolutionize the mental health field.

While funding for psychedelic research was cut to almost nothing in the 1960s and ‘70s, this study and others like it show that hallucinogenic substances do have powerful therapeutic potential. It’s hoped that the renewed interest and expanding research in the field will lead to deeper revelations.

“With proper dosage, set, and setting we might see even more profound effects,” Hendricks says, speaking of the fresh findings that psychedelics may lower domestic violence rates. “This definitely warrants further research.”

In other words, it’s time to get serious.