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Study finds psychedelic drugs and near-death experiences can reduce the fear of death

Study finds psychedelic drugs and near-death experiences can reduce the fear of death

These moments can have a profound impact on the way people see the end of their lives.

The one thing we all have in common is that one day we are all going to die.

But as Gandalf says: “Death is just another path, one we must all take.”

A new study done by PLOS ONE has found psychedelic drugs and near-death experiences can alter people’s perceptions of death and, as a result, reduce our fear of dying.

A team of researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that the influence of psychedelic drugs and near-death experiences that are not drug related share a similar impact in altering people’s perceptions of death and reducing end-of-life anxiety. 

Science Photo Library / Alamy Stock Photo

In a survey of more than 3,000 people (split between psychedelic users and non-drug users), all results were consistent with those who had taken psychedelic substances and those who had near-death experiences reporting that these moments had created a lasting positive effect on their lives, which created a more personal and spiritual meaning. 

“Although both psychedelic and non-drug participants showed robust increases on standardized measures of mystical and near-death experiences, these measures were significantly greater in the psychedelic participants," the study said.

"Non-drug participants were more likely to rate their experiences as the single most meaningful of their lives."

It was more common for the non-drug group to be medically unconscious during their near-death experience, with 36 per cent claiming they were either completely unresponsive to verbal or physical stimulation. 

Only 5 per cent of the non-drug group and 6 per cent of the psychedelic group claimed that their experiences increased their fear of death. 

Participants in both groups reported long-term persisting changes in their lifestyles. Many indicated moderate positive and desirable changes in their personal wellbeing or life satisfaction and found a sense of their life’s purpose. 

“Not only can the features of psychedelic experiences be similar to near-death experiences,” Roland Griffiths, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry states in the report.

“But both are rated as among the most meaningful lifetime experiences.

“Both produce similar enduring decreases in fear of death and increases in wellbeing," he said.

This research can be groundbreaking to help medical use of psychedelics in treatment for mood disorders and other psychiatric conditions.

'However, researchers have stated that more future studies are needed to better understand the use for medical psychedelics.

Words by Millie Hinchliffe

Featured Image Credit: Cannabis_Pic / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Drugs, Science