Long-term effects of psychedelic drugs: A systematic review

Jacob S. Aday, Cayla M. Mitzkovitz, Emily K. Bloesch, Christopher C. Davoli, Alan K. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Research into the basic effects and therapeutic applications of psychedelic drugs has grown considerably in recent years. Yet, pressing questions remain regarding the substances’ lasting effects. Although individual studies have begun monitoring sustained changes, no study to-date has synthesized this information. Therefore, this systematic review aims to fill this important gap in the literature by synthesizing results from 34 contemporary experimental studies which included classic psychedelics, human subjects, and follow-up latencies of at least two weeks. The bulk of this work was published in the last five years, with psilocybin being the most frequently administered drug. Enduring changes in personality/attitudes, depression, spirituality, anxiety, wellbeing, substance misuse, meditative practices, and mindfulness were documented. Mystical experiences, connectedness, emotional breakthrough, and increased neural entropy were related to these long-term changes in psychological functioning. Finally, with proper screening, preparation, supervision, and integration, limited aversive side effects were noted by study participants. Future researchers should focus on including larger and more diverse samples, lengthier longitudinal designs, stronger control conditions, and standardized dosages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-189
Number of pages11
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Long-term
  • Psychedelic drugs
  • Psychedelics
  • Review


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