Risks and Benefits of Psychedelic Use

Psychedelics can be talked about in a wide variety of ways. Sometimes, you will encounter views that overstate the harm associated with psychedelics, such as beliefs that they are very dangerous and can make you go crazy after one “trip.” Often these views are rooted in stigma and exaggerated beliefs associated with the failed War on Drugs. Other times, you will encounter views that idealize psychedelics as a magic bullet or miracle cure that can eradicate depression and anxiety after one experience. 

If you are considering the use of psychedelics, we encourage you to learn about their actual risks and benefits. If you have any concerns about potential risks regarding your physical or mental health, we recommend that you consult with your healthcare provider or other professional to help you decide what is right for you. 


  • Challenging experiences that can be overwhelming, scary, or confusing
  • Lingering psychological distress.
  • Triggering psychosis or mania in individuals with a history of psychosis or mania
  • Sudden changes to perspective or beliefs
  • Difficulty adjusting back to everyday  life
  • Disruptions to relationships such as partner, family, and friends
  • Interactions with current medications
  • Unsafe or adulterated drugs that are bought on the street


  • Increased insight or understanding of oneself
  • Catalyzing therapeutic processes that can lead to improvements in anxiety, depression, addiction, or trauma
  • Mystical or spiritual experiences
  • Increased clarity of values and purpose in life
  • Increased connection to others, nature, and the universe
  • Helping one move out of states that feel “stuck”

Many psychedelics are physically safe when used appropriately. Most of the risks of psychedelics are related to difficult psychological experiences that can occur, especially in uncontrolled environments or settings that are unsafe. To better understand how psychedelics can lead to challenges, and how navigating those challenges with the right support can lead to therapeutic growth, see the section on integration.