Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, collected data about 25,622 people under community supervision between 2002 and 2007.
All study participants were in the Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities (TASC) programme, for people with a history of drug abuse, including alcohol addiction, The Raw Story reported.
The researchers found that criminals diagnosed with a hallucinogen use disorder were less likely to fail the TASC programme, appear in court and be arrested and imprisoned, compared to those who did not have a history of taking the drugs.
Just one per cent of people on the programme were diagnosed with a hallucinogen disorder, while heavy users of cocaine, cannabis and alcohol were the most common.
‘Our results provide a notable exception to the robust positive link between substance use and criminal behaviour,’ the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
‘They add to both the older and emerging body of data indicating beneficial effects of hallucinogen interventions and run counter to the legal classification as well as popular perception of hallucinogens as categorically harmful substances with no therapeutic potential,’ they added.
The scientists believe that offenders may be especially likely to benefit from LSD treatment as many people become criminals as a result of drug-seeking behavior and impulsive conduct, often caused by compulsive drug use.
The study took factors such as race, employment, age, history of drug abuse and crimes, as well as gender and education into account.
However, the researchers warned that the findings of the study should not be seen to advocate recreational use of psychedelic drugs.
‘Nevertheless, they demonstrate that, in a real-world, substance-related intervention setting, hallucinogen use is associated with a lower probability of poor outcome,’ they wrote.
They believe the research should be the start of a continued investigation into the use of psychedelic drugs to treat criminals.
LSD History and Research
Research into psychedelic drugs began in 1897 when a German chemist managed to isolate the primary psychoactive compound in a cactus.
In 1943 Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann uncovered the hallucinogenic effects of LSD.
Research into psychedelic drugs was particularly popular in the 1950s and before 1972 some 700 studies had been carried out.
Scientists found the drugs could help treat alcoholics wishing to become teetotal, ease anxiety and reduce the symptoms of OCD, RealitySandwich reported.
Combined with psychotherapy, the drug was found to reduce symptoms of depression, tension and sleep disturbances in cancer patients.
Other scientists claimed LSD had the potential to facilitate creative problem solving.
However, research on human subjects stopped between 1972 and 1990.
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