Session: Attitudes about and Experiences with Psychedelic Drug Use Among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Populations (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

195 Attitudes about and Experiences with Psychedelic Drug Use Among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Populations

Saturday, January 15, 2022: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Independence BR B, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Race and Ethnicity
Symposium Organizer:
Alan Davis, PhD, The Ohio State University
Alan Davis, PhD, The Ohio State University
Racial trauma is defined as traumatization due to distressing experiences that can include physical or psychological threats to oneself or witnessing such threats to another person based on race or ethnicity. Racial trauma is rarely caused by a discreet single event but is the culmination of many discriminatory experiences. Racial discrimination experiences have deleterious effects on mental health. For example, in a systematic review of 121 studies, nearly half of these studies found consistent negative effects of racial discrimination on mental health, and data from large survey studies have found everyday experiences of racial discrimination were linked to depression, anxiety, and problematic substance use. Several treatments have been developed for trauma-based disorders. For example, Prolonged Exposure has been shown to have a large effect on decreasing trauma symptoms, however, existing studies of this treatment do not address the role of race or ethnicity. Similarly, Cognitive Processing Therapy is an effective treatment, but race is not accounted for as a moderator in outcome analyses. Evidence also shows that dropout rates are high among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) who receive these treatments. Finally, almost no BIPOC have been included in any studies of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, thus failing to provide data on its generalizability in helping people with racial traumas. Aside from clinically based treatments, BIPOC may also use substances to cope with the sequelae of racial trauma, especially if they do not have access to empirically supported treatments or when those treatments are not effective. Although many substances can exacerbate existing mental health problems, the use of psychedelics has been associated with less psychological distress and reports of lasting benefits by many people. In fact, research has shown that the administration of the psychedelic drug psilocybin (aka magic mushrooms) in clinical trials and in naturalistic settings is associated with reductions in the intensity of mental health symptoms, with some achieving full remission. However, these studies have been unsuccessful in recruiting BIPOC or Spanish-speaking individuals and studies focusing on these populations are sorely lacking. This symposium will address an important gap in the empirical study of psilocybin and its effect on mental health among BIPOC and Spanish-speaking people. First, we will explain the current state of psychedelic research and examine the prevalence and patterns of using psychedelics among BIPOC using nationally representative data from adults in the United States (US). Data from this project will show that rates of psychedelic use vary as a function of race, ethnicity, and sex. Next, we provide evidence from a large survey of BIPOC individuals from the US and Canada, demonstrating that self-reported mental health improvements are associated with psilocybin use following racial trauma and discrimination. We then turn to providing evidence about psilocybin use among Spanish-speaking people which includes data from the first survey designed specifically for this population. Lastly, we discuss findings from an ongoing study exploring the knowledge and acceptability of psilocybin-assisted therapy among a marginalized BIPOC community. These studies will provide foundational knowledge about this critical topic.
* noted as presenting author
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