Are We Being Exposed To Psychedelics More Than Ever Before? Survey Says… It's Complicated

This article was originally published on Psychedelic Spotlight and appears here with permission.

A study of American newspaper mentions of psychedelics doesn't stack up to what leaders in the industry are observing in the media landscape at large.

For psychedelics enthusiasts, it seems like news about the therapeutic potential of these drugs is popping up all over the place, from tweets by the world’s richest person Elon Musk to Netflix documentaries.

But are we just in an echo chamber?  

A new study published in The Journal of Psychedelic Psychiatry has attempted to measure the change in public sentiment regarding psychedelics and the frequency of their mentions over time in American newspapers.

The author, Dax Oliver, examined both sentiment and mentions of psilocybin in four newspapers — The New York TimesThe San Diego Union-Tribune, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Tampa Bay Times — from January 1, 1989, to December 31, 2020. The analysis found a rise in positive sentiment and an increase in the number of articles mentioning psilocybin only occurred in one newspaper, The New York Times.

However, the author acknowledged the methodological challenges of the study and recommended further research. Based on the findings, Oliver concluded: “The results might be a warning to psilocybin advocates that their optimism about public perception could be premature. If psilocybin advocates are mostly discussing psilocybin with each other, rather than discussing it with people outside of their communities, they have developed a mistaken impression of how many people have accepted its use.”

But leaders in the psychedelics space disagree.

“I do think the public is being exposed to the therapeutic potential of psychedelics now more than ever before,” Canadian Psychedelic Association founding member Trevor Millar tells Psychedelic Spotlight.

“People barely turn to newspapers for news anymore. They turn to podcasts, blogs, YouTube, social media, and so on, and it’s tough to deny that more and more of those are focusing on psychedelics. Try and …

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