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The real risks of psychedelics, explained by an expert | Dr. Matthew Johnson



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The real risks of psychedelics, explained by Johns Hopkins professor Dr. Matthew Johnson.

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A pattern emerges when you compare the harmfulness of different types of psychoactive drugs: alcohol and hard drugs like heroin and crack cocaine rank as the most harmful, while psychedelic substances like psilocybin and LSD score as the least harmful.

It’s perhaps not too surprising. After all, psychedelic substances are generally non-toxic and medically safe to consume. The drugs do not come with the same kind of overdose risks that substances like alcohol and heroin do.

Still, psychedelics can have profound effects on the psyche. Bad trips are a real phenomenon. But bad trips are sometimes the result of an interplay between the drugs and the user’s environment. As explained by Dr. Matthew W. Johnson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins, the conditions under which someone experiences psychedelics can significantly influence the trip — for the worse or the better.

Read the video transcript ► https://bigthink.com/series/devils-advocate/are-psychedelics-dangerous/


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About Matthew Johnson:
Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D., is The Susan Hill Ward Endowed Professor of Psychedelics and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins. Working with psychedelics since 2004, he is one of the world’s most widely published experts on psychedelics. He has published research on psychedelics and mystical experience, personality change, tobacco smoking cessation, cancer distress treatment, and depression treatment. In 2021 he received as principal investigator the first grant in 50 years from the US government for a treatment study with a classic psychedelic, specifically psilocybin in treatment of tobacco addiction. He is also known for his expertise in behavioral economics, addiction, sexual risk behavior, and research with a wide variety of drug classes. He’s been Interviewed by Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, NPR, Fox News, Fox Business News, BBC and in Michael Pollan’s book How to Change Your Mind.

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Read more of our stories on psychedelics:
AI maps psychedelic “trip” experiences to regions of the brain – opening new route to psychiatric treatments
► https://bigthink.com/health/ai-maps-psychedelic-trip-in-brain/
Psychedelic drugs: how to tell good research from bad
► https://bigthink.com/health/psychedelic-drugs-research/
Metaphysics and mushrooms: Psychedelics can change how you think about the universe
► https://bigthink.com/neuropsych/psychedelics-mushrooms-metaphysics/

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