The Effects of Psychedelics on Relationships

By Catherine Kakenya

Psychedelics are believed to have been used by Indigenous cultures for thousands of years. More scientific research of them began in the 1940s, and studies included treatment of patients with alcohol disorder. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) was discovered to uncover long-lost memories and help people to revisit traumatic memories and see them from a new angle, reviving psychedelics as a new tool for psychotherapy.

Psychedelics May Increase Social Interaction

A study conducted using mice showed that small doses of LSD over time increased interaction between stranger mice. The study was also conducted in rats to prove that it wasn’t mice-specific, and showed the same result.

The study also showed that LSD promoted social interaction without increasing locomotion, anxiety, or depression.

In human beings, this could mean that individuals would be more likely to engage with each other socially when given small doses of LSD. Relationships are strengthened when people talk to and socialize with each other.

Psychedelics Helps People Understand How Their Actions Impact Others

A study conducted by the University of Columbia in 2016 followed around 300 formerly incarcerated men with substance abuse issues. Some of these men agreed to use psychedelic drugs, while others refused. This was a clinical trial, and the men weren’t advised on what specific psychedelics to take, nor the amounts.

In a period of six years, 27% of those who took the psychedelics were arrested on accounts of domestic abuse. In the same time period, 47% of those who didn’t use psychedelics were similarly charged.

The difference in these numbers showed how much psychedelics could have an impact on relationships.

Psychedelics Increase Empathy, Self-Awareness, and Mental Health

Psychedelics have been found to uncomplicate situations that seemed impossible to navigate and make them clear by increasing empathy. Empathy helps people to be better individuals, and therefore makes them a better partner to others.

Psychedelics have also been known to help people deal with grief and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and overcome addictions by increasing their mindfulness.

In a recent study, MDMA and Cognitive Behavioral Conjoint Therapy were used on participants who had a severe case of PTSD. This study showed satisfaction in relationships between couples, and decreased PTSD symptoms, showing promising results in the use of psychedelics for PTSD treatment.

Psychedelics Have Antidepressant Effects On the Brain

In the study conducted on mice, LSD produced antidepressant effects. It took five weeks of dosage to produce antidepressants; this means that it could take longer to produce the same effects in humans.

When people in a relationship aren’t prone to depression, they tend to enhance their relationship with each other.

Final Words

Psychedelics could better the lives of people who use them well under a specific dose, and/or in conjunction with psychotherapy. According to the analyses above, they have been found to encourage happiness, reduce depression, and increase self-awareness and empathy. These positive results could enhance the argument for psychedelic use, both medically and recreationally.


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Dolder, P. C., Schmid, Y., Müller, F., Borgwardt, S., & Liechti, M. E. (2016). “LSD acutely impairs fear recognition and enhances emotional empathy and sociality.” Neuropsychopharmacology, 41(11), 2638-2646.

Wagner, A. C., Mithoefer, A. T., & Monson, C. M. (2019, March 19). “Combining Cognitive-Behavioral Conjoint Therapy for PTSD with 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)”. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 51(2), 166-173.

Walsh, Z., Hendricks, P. S., Smith, S., Kosson, D. S., Thiessen, M. S., Lucas, P., & Swogger, M. T. (2016). “Hallucinogen use and intimate partner violence: Prospective evidence consistent with protective effects among men with histories of problematic substance use.” Journal of psychopharmacology, 30(7), 601-607.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We advise readers to always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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