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J Psychoactive Drugs. 2019 Mar 6:1-11. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2019.1571258. [Epub ahead of print]

Comparing Mental Health across Distinct Groups of Users of Psychedelics, MDMA, Psychostimulants, and Cannabis.

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a Faculty of Science and Medicine-Medicine Section, Department of Neurosciences and Movement Science (NMS), Psychiatry and Psychotherapy , University of Fribourg , Fribourg , Switzerland.
b FINDER Institute for Prevention Research , Berlin , Germany.
c MIND European Foundation for Psychedelic Science , Berlin , Germany.
d Neuropsychopharmacology and Brain Imaging, Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics , University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich , Zurich , Switzerland.
e Addiction Medicine Center , Department of Psychiatry, Lausanne University Hospital , Lausanne , Switzerland.
f Addiction Switzerland , Research Department , Lausanne , Switzerland.
g Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Institute for Mental Health Policy Research , Toronto , Ontario , Canada.
h University of the West of England, Faculty of Health and Social Science , Frenchay Campus, Bristol , UK.


Differences in mental health (MH) of users of distinct psychoactive substances have been shown. Both substance use (SU) and MH in users are influenced by stressful life events. This study compared MH parameters in distinct groups of substance users and evaluated the impact of stress factors on these outcomes. Data stem from the longitudinal Swiss Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors (C-SURF) involving 4,475 young adult men. Distinct groups were created for the past 12 months' use of psychedelics, MDMA, psychostimulants, and cannabis. MH measurements (depressive symptoms, overall MH, perceived stress, life satisfaction) were used as outcome variables, while indicators of past family functioning and stressful life events served as covariates. The MH of psychedelics users was not significantly different from the no-drug-use group, whereas poorer MH was found in the other SU groups. Observed effects were influenced by the tested stress factors. The absence of association between use of psychedelics and worsening of MH deserves further investigation in male and female samples. Stressful life experiences must be considered when assessing the MH of users of illicit substances. These findings suggest that some men practice SU as self-medication to cope with life adversity.


Cannabis; MDMA; mental health; psychedelics; psychostimulants; stress events

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