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A Survey of American Psychiatrists' Attitudes Toward Classic Hallucinogens

Barnett, Brian, S., MD*†‡; Siu, Willie, O., MD, DPhil†‡; Pope, Harrison, G., Jr, MD‡§

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: June 2018 - Volume 206 - Issue 6 - p 476–480
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000828
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Recent years have seen renewed interest and research about the use of hallucinogens as possible agents in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. However, we are unaware of studies assessing the current attitudes of American psychiatrists regarding hallucinogens. Therefore, we e-mailed surveys to 1000 members of the American Psychiatric Association—250 resident-fellows and 750 attending psychiatrists. The response rate was 32.4%. Respondents tended to perceive hallucinogens as potentially hazardous and appropriately illegal for recreational purposes. However, a large minority expressed optimism about the potential use of hallucinogens for psychiatric treatment. Male and trainee respondents, as compared with female and attending respondents, reported less concern about the risks of hallucinogens and greater optimism about their therapeutic potential. Younger psychiatrists also seemed more optimistic. Optimism among trainees and younger psychiatrists may possibly reflect greater exposure to recent positive publications about hallucinogens and less awareness of more negative past reports.

*Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston;

Department of Psychiatry, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA;

Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; and

§Biological Psychiatry Laboratory, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA.

Send reprint requests to Brian Barnett, MD, Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic, 115 Mill St, Belmont, MA 02478. E-mail: brianbarnett85@gmail.com.

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