JUL 22, 2020
As 2020 has clearly shown, life is fraught with existential dread and can often resemble a nightmare for many of us.
If it were just a matter of cabin fever resulting from the coronavirus health crisis, that would be one thing. But this year has also entailed chaos in the streets, economic instability sweeping through our families and communities, not to mention the usual madness that has been raging across the world in recent years.
And if you’ve thought of reaching for some chemicals to escape the madness, even momentarily, you’re hardly alone.
As a recent study has shown, a growing number of Americans are using LSD to escape the deep crisis that our society has found itself in. In fact, the hallucinogen’s popularity has grown exponentially in recent years.
The authors of the study have a very simple explanation for why adults – primarily millenials and Gen Xers – are dabbling or diving headlong into using hallucinogens. Simply put, the world is on fire.
“LSD is used primarily to escape. And given that the world’s on fire, people might be using it as a therapeutic mechanism,” University of Cincinnati doctoral candidate Andrew Yockey explained to Scientific American. “Now that COVID’s hit, I’d guess that use has probably tripled.”
In undertaking one of the first major studies of acid dropping among adults in the U.S., the researchers examined surveys of 168,000 Americans and found that intake of LSD had risen by a shocking 56.4 percent between 2015 and 2018.
And while one might expect that it would be the youth – in this case Generation Z – that decides what the trendiest drug might be, it turns out that Gen Z isn’t so interested in the drug that helped define the hippie an psychedelic counter-cultures of the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, those aged 18 to 25 saw their LSD use decrease by 24 percent.
By a huge margin, Those who tripped the most on acid were adults with college degrees and people aged 35 to 49, whose interest in LSD skyrocketed by 223 percent in the three-year period. Meanwhile, those over 50 saw 45 percent increase while those age 26 to 34 saw an increase in LSD use by 59 percent. Those with college degrees did 70 percent more LSD.
A number of factors have boosted the popularity of the psychedelic substance, well before the current global crisis made us desperate for some form of escape. Researchers believe that one factor may have been the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, which made certain groups seek out the drug in lieu of, perhaps, escaping to Canada.
The rising popularity of microdosing is also a likely factor in the rise of LSD use. Microdosing typically involves taking one-tenth to half of a typical “trip”-sized dose as a means to reduce depression or anxiety, enhance creativity or simply sharpen the mind.
As a psychedelic drug, however, LSD is classified as a schedule 1 substance by the federal government due to the belief that the drug is addictive, dangerous and has no medical value.
While LSD’s popularity is rising over the years it still doesn’t come close to the mid-20th century peak of acid culture, experts say.