Psychedelics May Decrease Racial Trauma Symptoms Among People of Color

The study shows another potential application of psychedelic-assisted therapy.

Evan Lewis-Healey
3 min readAug 23, 2021


Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

A recent study has found that psychedelics could be effective in treating symptoms of racial trauma. The study comes as an increasing amount of evidence suggests that conventional psychotherapy is not an efficacious means of treating racial trauma.

Mental Health America states racial trauma symptoms may occur as intense feelings of depression, anxiety, or distress. These symptoms can arise for many reasons; from personal experiences with physical or verbal abuse related to ethnicity, to experiencing systematic racism within society.

According to Alan Davis and the authors of the study, using conventional psychotherapy to treat racial trauma related PTSD is marred by several issues: Therapy dropout rates are high within the BIPOC community, and current treatments often neglect the role of race or ethnicity when treating PTSD.

The use of psychedelics to treat racial trauma may therefore be a novel and effective treatment, where psychotherapy fails.

Psychedelics for Racial Trauma

The study, published in Chronic Stress, surveyed 313 black/indigenous/people of color (BIPOC) who had used a psychedelic to attempt to personally treat symptoms of racial trauma. Within the study, the participants filled in a survey online, which assessed their psychedelic experience, as well as the type and frequency of racial discrimination they had suffered from.

The researchers also measured how psychological flexibility — the ability to adapt your behavior so that you act in accordance with core values — changed as a result of the psychedelic experience. The researchers theorized that an increase in psychological flexibility would lead to a decrease in racial trauma symptoms.

The researchers found that a psychedelic experience, mostly induced through psilocybin, LSD, or MDMA, could ameliorate symptoms of racial trauma. “Results showed significant and large reductions in the intensity of traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms from the 30 days before to the 30 days after a referent psychedelic…



Evan Lewis-Healey

PhD student at Cambridge University. Studying the cognitive neuroscience of altered states of consciousness | Writer for Psychedelic Spotlight

Recommended from Medium


See more recommendations