Saturday, January 11, 2014

Study: Hallucinogen Use Predicts Reduced Criminal Justice Recidivism

In a potentially fascinating article, published in this month's Journal of Psychopharmacology, researchers identified a correlation between naturalistic hallucinogen use and reduced recidivism among substance-involved offenders under community corrections supervision. The sample is very large (n=25,622) and it appears the relationship remains after controlling for "an array of potential confounding factors." Given the report last year that lifetime psychedelic use was not associated with current mental health problems in an adult population, this study's implications could be especially interesting.
Unfortunately, my institution doesn't allow me access to this journal - if there are any readers who can access the full article, please let me know.

(Comment after the fact: Keep in mind that this shows a correlation and that correlation does not establish directionality. That it, it's at least equally plausible that people with a diagnosis of psychedelic use disorder (a tiny fraction of the population) are different in ways that statistical controls cannot compensate for, and are therefore less like to reoffend. This makes sense in that psychedelic drug use is minimally addictive, if at all, and craving and urges are not typical in this group. It seems highly implausible to me that hallucinogen use had a beneficial effect. The authors should never have been allowed to make that claim, a fault of the editor. In addition, use of LSD or psilocybin has never been associate with increased incidence of mental disorders, in contrast to MDMA or synthetic cannabinoids.)

Here's the abstract via SagePub:


Hallucinogen-based interventions may benefit substance use populations, but contemporary data informing the impact of hallucinogens on addictive behavior are scarce. Given that many individuals in the criminal justice system engage in problematic patterns of substance use, hallucinogen treatments also may benefit criminal justice populations. However, the relationship between hallucinogen use and criminal recidivism is unknown. In this longitudinal study, we examined the relationship between naturalistic hallucinogen use and recidivism among individuals under community corrections supervision with a history of substance involvement (n=25,622). We found that hallucinogen use predicted a reduced likelihood of supervision failure (e.g. noncompliance with legal requirements including alcohol and other drug use) while controlling for an array of potential confounding factors (odds ratio (OR)=0.60 (0.46, 0.79)). Our results suggest that hallucinogens may promote alcohol and other drug abstinence and prosocial behavior in a population with high rates of recidivism.


Thanks to Paul and Jason for sending the full piece. 
Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities (TASC)provided the authors access to de-identified records on 25,622 felony-charged individuals on community corrections supervision from  between 2002-2007. "Any hallucinogen use" was not a descriptor in the data, so they were confined to hallucinogen-use disorder, abuse or dependence, assuming that case workers would likely interpret any use as disordered. Interestingly, 73.6% of folks with a hallucinogen-use disorder in the sample were white/Caucasian. And, according to the researchers, hallucinogen-use disorder was the third strongest predictor of recidivism rates, behind cocaine- and cannabis-use disorder, respectively, which most strongly (but positively) predicted recidivism.The authors call for RCTs to explore hallucinogen-based therapies in the criminal justice population.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah. This one's...interesting. It's been in my queue for Monday.

    I can't get the article either, but I learned of it from this summary: