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Messages From the Director

Statement by NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D., in response to a study published in the Journal Psychopharmacology on July 11, 2006. Study authors: R.R. Griffiths, et al. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

NIDA Director Nora Volkow

July 2006

As the nation's preeminent drug abuse research organization, NIDA's mission is to support research and provide information on the addictive and adverse health consequences of drugs of abuse. Therefore, NIDA discourages the use of hallucinogens, in order to promote the continuing downward trend in use of this class of drugs.

Although there is no evidence that psilocybin is addictive, its adverse effects are well known. Similar to the more commonly known hallucinogen LSD, psilocybin acts on serotonin receptors in the brain to profoundly distort a person's perceptions of reality. Psilocybin can trigger psychosis in susceptible individuals and cause other deleterious psychological effects, such as paranoia and extreme anxiety.

A recent study entitled "Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance" evaluated the subjective effects of psilocybin after acute administration and the recall of these subjective effects 2 months after its administration. While the investigators receiving the grant supporting this research did not initially propose to evaluate the effects of psilocybin, grantees maintain the scientific independence necessary to follow up on new areas of research.


Nora D. Volkow, M.D.

This page was last updated July 2006

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