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  1. 1. RJournal of Psychoactive Dtugs, 43 (3), 188-198, 2011Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC Routledge Taylor & Francis CroupISSN: 0279-1072 print/2159-9777 onlitieDOl: 10.1080/02791072.2011.605661Voice of the Psychonauts: Coping, Life Purpose, and Spirituality in Psychedelic Drug Users Levetite Moró, M.Sc.^ Kataliti Simon, M.Sc.; Imre Bárd, M.Sc.= & József Rácz, Ph.D. Abstract— Psychoactive drug use shows great diversity, but due to a disptoportionate focus on problematic drug use, predominant nonproblematic drug use remains an undetstudied phenomenon. Historic and anecdotal evidence shows that natural sources of "psychedelic" drugs (e.g., mescaline and psilocybin) have been used in leligious and spiritual settings for centuries, as well as for psycho- logical self-enhancement purposes. Our study assessed a total of 667 psychedelic drug users, other drug users, and drug nonusers by online questionnaires. Coping, life purpose, and spirituality were measured with the Psychological Inmiune Competence Inventory, the Purpose in Life test, and the Intrinsic Spirituality Scale, respectively. Results indicate that the use of psychedelic drugs with a purpose to enhance self-knowledge is less associated with probletns, and correlates positively with coping and spirituality. Albeit the meaning of "spirituality" may be ambiguous, it seems that a spiri- tually-inclined attitude in drug use may act as a ptotective factor against drug-related probletns. The autognostic use of psychedelic drugs tnay be thus hypothesized as a "training situation" that promotes self-enhancement by reheatsing personal coping stiategies and by gaining self-knowledge. However, to assess the actual efficiency and the speculated long-tertii benefits of these delibetately provoked exceptional experiences, further qualitative investigations are needed. Keywords — coping skills, psychedelics, quality of life, self assessment, spirituality Contemporary psychoactive drug use is considered to diversity in both individual and group patterns of eon-be a complex phenomenon not only because of the wide sutnption. As our postmodern societies show an eclecticspectrum of substances involved, but also due to the great mixture of soeiocultutally defined forms and notms, the topics of substance use and abuse are also being richly The authors wish to thank Dr. Attila Oláh, Dr. Tamas Mattos, and interwoven into virtually all areas of life, from medicineDr. David R. Hodge for allowing using their PICI, PIL, and ISS instru- through politics to religion. However, social discourses onments, respectively. Levente Moró wishes to thank Dr. Heikki Hatuäläinenand Brian Anderson for conmienting on and correcting the manuscript, the phenomena of illicit drug consumption predominantlyand the Jenny and Antti Wihuti Foundation for grants. disregard the voices of the drug users themselves, and do "Doctoral student. Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of not attetnpt to engage them in dialogue. Simultaneously,Turku, Finland. Doctoral student. Doctoral Program of Health Science, public attention is often targeted at only extreme cases ofSemmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary. illicit drug use. By singling out tragic episodes or inventing ^Master student, BIOS Centre, London School of Econotiiics, UK. fictional "junkie" stories, the public media creates a notably Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Setniuelweis University,Budapest, Hungaty. disproportionate and problem-oriented view of actual drug Please address correspondence and reprint requests to Levente usage. Even so, based on sociodemographic surveys andMoró, Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Turku, treatment statistics of substance use, it can be estimatedAssistentinkatu 7, Publicum building, FI-20014 Turku, Finland; phone:+358 2 333 6975, email: that even 90% to 95% of drug users could be consideredJourtuil of Psychoactive Drugs 188 Volume 43 (3), July - Septetiiber 2011
  2. 2. Moró et al. Voice of the Psychonauts as nonproblematic (EMCDDA 2008; UNQDC 2006; Kraus or "coolness." However, self-enhancement of the psycho- et al. 2002). After subtracting the considerable number of logical kind tends to be a tnore cotnplex and controversial trial-only users, it still seems that there exists a relatively topic, because it is associated with such higher level hutnan large group of casual and regular drug users who can sus- needs as self-actualization, esteem, and self-ttanscendence tain their moderate consumption habits over longer time (Maslow 1971, 1943). Religious and spiritual practices, periods. creative processes, social cohesion, and self-knowledge all Despite their majority status, nonproblematic drug satisfy higher level psychological needs, and thus may users are typically not foregrounded in drug-related dis- contribute to mental well-being. In pursuing these goals,courses, presumably because they pose relatively little to no mankind has utilized a number of special psychoactivepersonal, social or public health risk. Whereas some stud- drugs, which will be briefly introduced next. ies demonstrate the existence of healthy, normally func-tioning adults who occasionally use psychoactive drugs PSYCHEDELIC DRUGS(Reneau et al. 2000), nonproblematic drug use remains a less charted territory within social drug research proba- The class of those psychoactive substances, which arebly also because of the underground nature of illegal drug mostly associated with transpersonal and spiritual domains, use. From a medical viewpoint, hallucinatory phenom- is termed psychedeUcs.Be.onging to a subcategory of hal-ena have been mostly regaided as signs of mental illness, lucinogens, the major psychedelics are: (1) lysergic acidthus drug-induced hallucinations have been traditionally diethylamide (LSD); (2) psilocybin and psilocin fromput into the same categoty with neuropsychiatrie disorders. Psilocybe spp. "magic" mushrooms; (3) mescaline fromHowever, contrasting opinions state that hallucinations are cacti, such as peyote (Lophophora williamsii) and Sannot so qualitatively different from normal experience, but Pedro (Trichocereus spp.); (4) N,N-ditnethyltryptaminerather should be approached from a psychological view- (DMT) and preparations containing it, such as varietiespoint and seen as lying on a continuum with normality of the brew ayahuasca, or the snuff yopo; (5) diviners(Alemán & Lar0i 2008). In spite of a potentially rich sage {Salvia divinorum); and (6) d-lysergic acid amideand personally interpretable phenomenal experience for the (LSA) contained in the seeds of morning glory {Ipomoeasubject himself or herself, outsiders may also easily dismiss violácea) and Hawaiian baby woodrose (Argyreia ner-hallucinatory phenomena merely because the vivid per- vosa) (Halpern & Sewell 2005; Nichols 2004). Inception does not necessarily correspond exactly with any addition to these substances, listings of psychedelics"real objects or state of affairs in the real world" (Shanon may sometimes include also phenethylatnines such as2003). Yet another reason for not touching the topic 2C-B (2,5-dimethoxy-4-brotnophenethylainine, "Nexus")could be a culturally enforced moral views that (some) and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine,drugs would be intrinsically "evil" per se. Nevertheless, Ecstasy). Potent forms of cannabis with high THCthe possibility of nonproblematic drug use—or of posi- (A-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) content, such as selectivelytive drug use—should not be a priori rejected on moral cultivated hemp strains ("skunk") and cotnptessedgrounds. cannabis resin (hashish), had been also reported to induce Beside the physical properties of a drug and its use hallucinations occasionally. However, hallucination-(such as dose size, route of administration, etc.), there inducing plants of the Solanaceae family (e.g., mandrake,are numerous personal-psychological and sociocultural- jimson weed, angels trumpet, henbane) are not con-environmental factors (termed set and setting, respectively) sidered to be psychedelics but rather deliriants due tothat largely determine the quality of the overall drug expe- their sleepwalking-like and toxic effects. Albeit partiallyrience, as well as the interpretations following it (Asaad & sharing common mechanisms with the classical LSD-likeShapiro 1986; Zinberg 1984; Faillace & Szara 1968). hallucinogens, dissociative drugs such as phencyclidineCultural studies indicate that the purposes of psychoactive (PCP), ketamine, and nitrous oxide (N2O, "laughing gas"),drug use—both legal and illegal—may also include self- are not unanimously viewed as psychedelics.enhancement, a pursuit of an increased personal well-being Neuropsychopharmacological characteristics of many(Lerner & Lyvers 2006; Prepeliczay 2002). Depending on psychedelic hallucinogens, such as LSD and psilocybin,the primary level of action, a coarse distinction can be have already been charted since the 1950s (for cut rentmade at least between neuroeognitive, social, and psy- reviews, see Passie et al. 2008, 2002). With the notablechological enhancements. For the first and second cat- exception of Salvia divinorum, major psychedelics pri-egories, plenty of substances are available to improve marily stimulate various serotonin (5-hydroxy-triptamine,btain metabolism needed for basic mental functioning, 5-HT) receptors, especially subtype 5-HT2A on neocorti-and to dissolve inhibitions hindering social interactions. cal pyramidal cells. These psychedelic hallucinogens areIn the cases of legal and commercially available sub- generally considered as physiologically safe, nonaddic-stances, this self-enhancement is socially well-aecepted tive, and virtually impossible to cause overdose due toand even considered as a sign of "fitness," "smartness," their relatively low acute toxicity (Nichols 2004). UnderJournal of Psychoactive Drugs 189 Volume 43 (3), July - September 2011
  3. 3. Moró et al. Voice of the Psychonautscarefully supervised conditions—such as in experimen- "sailors of the mind/soul"), which have rarely been stud-tal and therapeutic situations—targeted mental states can ied in detail. However, the roots of self-experimentingbe reached in a controlled way with a minimized risk with drugs can be found in the history of Westernfor long-term physiological and psychological afteref- psychology, particularly in phenomenologically-orientedfects (Johnson, Richards & Griffiths 2008). Adverse reac- consciousness research of the early twentieth century.tions are generally associated with unintentional or unat- Personal exploration of altered states, followed by descrip-tended usage, a disturbing or overstimulating environment, tive introspection, is presented in classical works byinadequate preparedness and a careless attitude toward philosopher/psychologist William Jatnes who used thedrug use, preexisting or donnant psychiatric conditions, notorious "laughing gas," nitrous oxide; by physiologi-and earlier or recent unprocessed traumas of the psyche cal psychologist Heinrich Klüver who self-experimented(Strassman 1984). Currently, when a growing interest in with mescaline; and by writer Aldous Huxley (1954) whocognition-enhancing drugs is converging with a renais- wrote his famous essay The Doors of Perception aboutsance in psychedelic drug research, the time has come his mescaline experiences. The tetm psychonaut is usuallyto study these topics with contemporary methods (Sessa attributed to Ernst Jünger in his reference to the mesca-2008). line self-experiments by pharmacologist Arthur Heffter. The accidental discovery of the psychoactive properties PSYCHEDELIC DRUG USE of the prototypical hallucinogen LSD was confirmed by a planned and docutnented self-trial by Swiss chemist Albert Psychoactive drugs may induce temporary and Hofmann in t943. In the 1950s, John C. Lillys researchreversible altered states of consciousness by destabilizing on himself with sensory deprivation, LSD, and ketatnineand repatterning several psychological subsystetns, such as also set a scholarly example for the self-exploration ofperception, attention, cognition, memory, atid sense of self the human psyche by means of tnind-altering substances(Farthing 1992; Tart 1975). Neuropsychopharmacological and techniques (for autobiographies and biographies withchanges may result in profound changes of the subjec- descriptions of these explorations, see Nahm & Pribramtive experience, such as hallucinations in several modal- 1998; Hoftnann 1980; Lilly 1972; Jünger 1970; Huxleyities, synesthesia, strong emotions varying from terror 1954; James 1902/1994).to awe, encounters and communication with seemingly Contrasting the above historical information with moreautonotnous entities, space and time distortions, and conventional views on drug use, the topic of nonprob-feelings of oneness, understanding, or insight (Frecska lematic psychedelic drug use itideed seems fascinating2007; Prepeliczay 2002). When such mental states are and contradictory. In particular, the mechanisms and mea-deliberately invoked in a supportive environment with a surability of the allegedly positive mental changes areproper conceptual and ideological background, the result- especially interesting and challenging. In an attempt toing exceptional experiences tnay be interpreted as deeply explore the topic, we chose the biopsychosocial model ofmeaningful religious revelations and spiritual awaken- health (Engel 1977) as the conceptual framework of ourings. Thus it is not surprising that substances of this present study. In particular, we used the concept of saluto-type have also been used in both traditional and con- genesis by Antonovsky (1961) as our tTiodel for research.temporary religious or spiritual practices as sacraments According to his system, health is a not a state but a pro-(Baker 2005; Roberts 2001), and referred to by the term cess that restores balance by enabling inner resources inentheogens (literally: "becoming divine within") (Ruck an efficient reaction to disturbing external influences. Theet al. 1979). Even nowadays, entheogens are consumed set of tTiental practices that quickly respond to stress canin the rituals of the peyotist Native American Church be seen as a psychological imtnune system (Oláh 2005),(Stewart 1987), as well as by ayahuasca-using syncretic the proper functioning of which is a prerequisite to mentalreligions such as Santo Daime and Uniao do Vegetal health. The model also assutnes that unusual, exceptional(Dobkin de Rios 1971). Psilocybe mushrooms are also experiences are part of tnental health if the individual isritually ingested by numerous indigenous Mexican tribes able to draw conclusions or to get meaningful answers from(Guzman 2008), but similar mystical experiences with a these happenings. This view is also supported by obser-spiritual significance can be occasioned by psilocybin use vations of psychotic patients: response to extraordinaryalso in contemporary laboratory settings (Griffiths et al. experience seems to depend on cognitive mediation by their2008). beliefs and appraisals (Garety et al. 2001). Meaningfulness Historical and anecdotal evidence suggests that some of life events thus acts as a protective factor leading topeople occasionally consume hallucinogenic substances better psychological functioning and an improved qual-and seek psychedelic experiences with the primary purpose ity of life. Findings in cultural anthropology also supportof autognosis (literally: "self-knowledge"). Persons with the idea of psychedelics being used as "problem-solvingsuch a motivation for drug use are referred to as members devices" (Baker 1994), as well as "psychointegrator plants"of the underground subculture of psychonauts (literally: (Winkelman 1995).Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 190 Volume 43 (3), July - September 2011
  4. 4. Moró et al. Voice of the Isychonauls THE PRESENT STUDY Sciences in Budapest. Participants were recruited with the snowball method from multiple pools, such as university The aim of the present study was to contribute to a mailing lists, social networking billboards, and the dis-deeper understanding of an alleged psychopharmacological cussion group of the Hungarian Psychedelic Communityself-enhancing phenomenon by assessing a nonproblematic DAATH ( During the three months of thedrug user group. Based on anecdotal evidence—such as online survey being open, a total of 796 answer forms werehundreds of psychedelic drug experience self-reports avail- received, of which 667 were adequately cotnpleted. Toable online (Erowid 2010)—our initial work hypothesis avoid bias from comparing problem users with nonproblemheld that there should be detectable differences in life users, a prelimiriary analysis was conducted on problem usemeaningfulness and coping characteristics between auto- characteristics in the sample. As the results revealed signif-gnostic psychonauts, users of other drugs for other pur- icant differences between the intended comparison groups,poses, and drug nonusers. In particular, we expected that we decided to exclude those 78 participants who consid-psychedelic drug use purposes focusing on self-knowledge ered their personal substance use as problematic. Thus theare associated with enhancements in life quality more than number of participants eligible for grouping was furtherother drug use purposes, or no drug use. We also anticipated reduced to 589, including 467 fortner and current druga higher level of spirituality associated with the autognostic users, and 122 drug nonusers. Included participants ageuse of psychedelics, as compared with other uses of other range varied from 13 to 59 years (M = 23.8, SD - 6.4),drugs, or with no drug use. and gender ratio was 247 females (41.9%) to 342 males (58.1%). METHOD Grouping. In order to form comparable drug user groups that differ only in their chosen drug types andSurvey Technical Solution drug use purposes, we first profiled the psychedelic drug As the data gathering method, online survey was users into two clearly separable groups by computing achosen for its numerous advantages over traditional paper- simple PSYNDEX (psychedelic index) score from theirbased survey (Reips 2002), in particular for the ease psychedelic drug use parameters. This PSYNDEX scoreof access to rare and specific drug user populations consisted of three factors: (a) the nutnber of psychedelicwhile guaranteeing their anonymity. The general disad- drugs (1 to 6) subtracting the number of nonpsychedelicvantages of online studies, such as multiple submissions, drugs (1 to 9) while omitting six "setnipsychedelic" drugsself-selection, and dropout, were either solved by con- (such as deliriants and minor psychedelics), alcohol andtrolling for that factor or defining it as irrelevant. For tobacco; (b) autognostic drug use purposes (0 to 3) sub-our online psychedelic drug survey, an Internet domain tracting general drug use purposes (0 to 3) for each( was purchased, and a web server was psychedelic drug; and (c) importance of the experience (0started up. Online questionnaire forms were developed to 4) multiplied by the life effects of the experience (-2by using Webropol software (, which to 2), for each psychedelic drug. The PSYNDEX scorehandles dynamic paging, that is, shows or hides the next was calculated for 277 nonproblem users (56 females,questions depending on the previous answers. Webropol 20.2%, and 221 males, 79.8%) who had used one or morewas also capable of exporting data into Microsoft Office psychedelic drugs. The obtained distribution ranged fromExcel file format for data preprocessing. The survey was - 1 2 to 23 points (M ^ -0.03, SD = 4.49). The twoconducted between December 2008 and February 2009, tails of the range were separated into two roughly equal-and it consisted of six separate parts to be completed, sized groups: a high-scoring target group (PSYNDEX >starting with a page to obtain infortned consent, sociode- 1 point: 81 participants, 29%) and a low-scoring controlmographic questions, and questions concerning drug usage. group (PSYNDEX < - 2 points: 77 participants, 28%),In choosing psychological instruments for the study, inter- leaving out a wider midrange zone (PSYNDEX —2 to Inational and national comparability was a key issue. Thus, point: 119 participants, 43%).we selected and put online three validated, widely used and Group characteristics. Based on their psychedelicacknowledged instruments to tneasure coping, life purpose, drug use patterns, participants were grouped into threeand spirituality; the Psychological Immune Competence groups. The PSY target group consisted of the 81Inventory (PICI), the Purpose In Life (PIL) test, and the PSYNDEX high-scorers (age range 16 to 40 years,Intrinsic Spirituality Scale (ISS), respectively. M = 22.7, SD = 5.2) who thus used mostly psychedelic drugs with primarily autognostic purposes. The first con-Participants trol group, Cl, consisted of the 77 PSYNDEX low-scorers Recruiting and filtering. The ethical permission of (age range 13 to 34 years, M = 22.9, SD = 4.8) who usedthe study was granted by the Ethical Committee of the mostly other than psychedelic drugs for primarily nonau-Institute for Psychology of the Hungarian Academy of tognostic purposes. For the second control group, C2, weJournal of Psychoactive Drtigs 191 Volume 43 (3), July - September 2011
  5. 5. Moró et ai. Voice of tile lsychonauts TABLE 1 Drugs with Categorization Drug Group Category Subcategory Drug Deptessants Alcohol Inhalatits Sleep tiiedication, tranquilizers, anxiolytics (without a diagnosis or ptesctiption) Medical drugs and alcohol combined Hetoin atid other opiates GHB,GBL Stimulants Tobacco Ecstasy (MDMA) Aniphetainitie atid other stitnulants Cocaine Hallucinogens Delitiants Jitnson weed, angels ttumpet, henbane, etc. Dissociatives Ketatnine Nittous oxide (N2O) PCP Psychedelics Minor Matijuana, hashish New sytithetic dtugs (2C-B, 5-MeO-DMTetc.) Ibogaine Major LSD Psilucybe mushrooms Mescaline cacti Salvia divinorum DMT (ayahuasca, yopo, etc.) LSA (niotniiig gloty, HBWR, etc.) Fictional Drug Relevin Note: Major psychedelics shown in boldface. 2C-B = 2,5-diniethoxy-4-bromophenethylamine; 5-MeO-DMT = 5- metlioxy-dimethyltriptaniine; DMT = N,N-dimethyltryptaniine; GBL = y-butyrolactone; GHB = /-hydroxybutyric acid; HBWR = Hawaiian baby woodrose (Argyreia nervosa); LSA = d-lysergic acid amide; LSD = lysergic acid diethylamide; MDMA = 3,4-melhylenedioxy-inethamplietamine; PCP = phencyclidine.chose those 122 paiticipanls (age range 16 to 55 years, significant difference (U = 670, Z = -2.304, p := .021,M = 26.5, SD — 7.3) who had never tried out psychoactive n = 100) in the PSYNDEX scores between males (M = .95,drugs, with the exceptions of alcohol and tobacco. It is SD = 6.12, n = 74) and females (M = -1.92, SD = 4.91,to be noted immediately that due to fundamentally differ- n = 26) in those two groups using psychedelics (i.e., PSYent cotnpositions of the three groups, gender ratios were taiget group and Cl control group). Gender ratio was thusstrongly disproportional between the PS Y target group (12 disptoportional also in the matched groups; The PSY tar-fetnales, 15%, and 69 males, 85%), the Cl control group get group consisted of only nine females (18%;) and 41(23 females, 30%, and 54 males, 70%), and the C2 control males (82%), whereas the Cl control group had 17 femalesgroup (94 females, 77%, and 28 males, 23%). (34%) and 33 males (66%), atid the C2 control group had Group malching. From each of the PSY, Cl, and 32 females (64%) and 18 males (36%). After matching theC2 groups, 50 participants were precisely matched with 50 participants ttoni each group, all age ranges varied fromeach other on the basis of three sociodcmographic factors; 18 to 34 years with a mean age of 23.7 years, and standard(a) age, (b) type of residence ( 1 to 5 points, in the order deviations of 4.6, 3.8, and 3.9 years for the three groups,of capital city, shire town, other town, village, or farm), respectively.and (c) highest educational level (I to 8). As indicatedabove, gender could not and was not used as a matching Measuresfactor because of the disproportional composition of the Psychoactive drugs. Our complete assessed drug listoriginal sample. Indeed, a Mann-Whitney test revealed a alotig with a categorization is shown in Table 1.Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 192 Volume 43 (3), July - September 2011
  6. 6. Moró et al. Voice of the Psychonauts It is to be noted here that legal statuses of psychedelics may fundamentally differ from country to TABLE 2 country. Whereas LSD, psilocybin, tîiescaline, and DMT List of Drug Use Purposes are scheduled by the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances, the natural sources of the Religious or Spiritual Practices latter three substances (i.e., mushrootus, eacti, and brew Self-Knowledge and Self-Inspection ingredients) are generally unscheduled by international Self-Medication and national law. LSA and salvinorin-A, along with their Enhancing Mood plant sources, are not eonttolled substances in most coun- Avoiding Boredotn and Hopelessness tries. However, exceptions to these generalizations are still Offsetting a Deficiency numerous in the national laws, indicating the worldwide Increasing Social Contact Increasing Sensation and Pleasure variability in polities-based drug policies—as opposed to Stimulating Artistic Creativity/Performance scientific evidence-based ones (Nutt et al. 2007). Due to Enhancing Physical Power this atiibiguity, we had no reason to make any further dis- Rebellion or Alternative Lifestyle tinction between legal and illegal substances, nor to atialyze Building Personal Identity and Diawing Attention our data and to report results grouped by legality in any Expjessing Membership iti a Group particular country. The 24-item psychoactive drug list used Out of Curiosity in our survey was loosely based on the standard drug list Note: Autognostic drug use purposes shown in boldface.of the large cross-national European School Survey Projeeton Alcohol and Other Drugs (Hibell et al. 2007). However,as having primarily bodily effects, anabolic steroids wereexcluded from our list. To filter out bogus or misleading extension, introspective): religious or spiritual practices,answers—be it deliberate or unintended—we also included self-knowledge and self-inspection, and self-tnedieation.a fictional drug "Relevin" into our questionnaire. The 23 Psychological Immune Competence Inventoryreal items of the drug list were divided into three categories: (PICI). The eoncept of psychological immunity referspsychedelic drugs (six items), semipsychedelic drugs (six to the total of personality factors behind an individualsitems), and nonpsychedelic drugs (nine items). As alcohol resource capacities for coping. It tnarks those personaland tobacco were used in all three subject groups, they were characteristics that enable a person to cope with stressexcluded from categorization. in the long term, and to handle incoming effects in Drug use purposes. In the dominant medical dis- order to enrich personal power instead of damaging it.course, any unpermitted use of drugs is considered as Psychological immunity is a complex cognitive systemabuse by definition, and categorized as a disorder per that is optitTially activated when such external or internalse. Self-determined drug use is quite often automati- situations occur that may present a threat to the personscally attributed to addietion, without further investigations mental development, goals, or life (Oláh 2005). Mobilizedinto its more nuanced psychological causes, purposes, coping strategies play an important role also in avoidingand goals. However, neither addiction nor other typically transition from nonclinical to clinical states in psychoticassumed drug use purposes—sueh as "eseaping from life patients (Garety et al. 2001). The Psychological Immunetroubles" or "to feel good"—would adequately explain the Competence Inventory is an operationalized 80-itemuse of hallucinogens. According to many reports (Erowid insttument for measuring such mental resistance on three2010), a psychedelic experience is not an easy or enjoy- dynamically interacting subsystems: the Approach-Beliefable pastime that could be repeated very often. Moteover, Subsystem (ABS), the Monitoring-Cteating-Executingnearly all hallucinogens lack direct dopaminergic reward- Subsystem (MCES), and the Self-Regulating Subsystetning mechanisms that would dtive users to keep up dosing (SRS). The PICI had been used earlier for surveyingthese substances for increased mood (Nichols 2004). Thus, drug user populations in Hungary (e.g., Demetrovics &our study aimed to take on a more refined approaeh to the Kardos2001).exploration of drug use purposes. Based on both anthro- Purpose In Life (PIL) Test. The applied question-pologie and ethnographic literature (Baker 1994; Blätter naire is the Hungarian version of the Purpose In Life1993) as well as anecdotal evidence from drug experi- test by Crumbaugh & Maholick (1964). It is based onence reports available on the Internet (Erowid 2010), we the concepts of Frankl (1963), stating that in order toeompiled a 14-item list of possible drug use purposes. maintain proper mental health, life events should be expe-While avoiding such general eategories as "intoxication" rienced as meaningful—even those including adversitiesor "recreation," several ehoices were included for a sub- and losses to be solved or accepted. The 20-item PIL testtler and mote detailed distitiction. The full list of drug use measures a protective effect factor that meaningfulnesspurposes is shown in Table 2. Out of a total of 14 drug of life has on mental health (Konkoly-Thege & Martosuse purposes, three were counted as autognostic (or, by 2006). It had been translated into seven languages andJournal of Psychoactive Drugs 193 Volutne 43 (3), July - September 2011
  7. 7. Moró et al. Voice of the Psychonautsapplied in numerous international psychological studies, between PSY target group and Cl control group mem-some of which were relating meaningfulness of life to bers in the average nutnber of different drugs used. Noneaddictive behavior (e.g., Rahman 2001 ; Noblejas de la Flor of the respondents reported total abstinence, that is, had1997; Nicholson et al. 1994). A particular strength of the never tried out any of the 23 drugs (including alcohol andFranklian concept is that it also integrates hardship and tobacco). Findings strongly support the anecdotal evidencenegative experiences in life. The Hungarian version of the about usage patterns of psychedelic drugs: autognostic usePIL test has an excellent reliability (Cronbach a = .90). purposes of psychedelic drugs accounted for 36% of all useScores had been found to be independent of both the purposes of psychedelic drugs, as well as for 51 % of autog-age and the economic situation of the respondents, and nostic use purposes of all drugs. Consutiiption percentagesthey show strong correlation with spirituality and intrinsic for the six psychedelic drugs indicate a rather moderategoals. and discontinuous usage pattern for these substances, with Intrinsic Spirituality Scale (ISS). For quantitative 7% of the participants reporting previous use, and 4%studies of religion and spirituality, several instruments have reporting current use of the most popular psychedelic drug,been developed to assess these overlapping phenomena. namely LSD.For our particular study, we chose to use the Intrinsic Self-reported problems associated with substance useSpirituality Scale (ISS), which was developed by Hodge were found to have meaningful effects on several scores.(2003) on the basis of the Religious Orientation Scale by In problem users, PICI and PIL scores were significantlyAllport & Ross (1967). The six-item ISS can be applied lower compared to nonproblem users {r^ — .215 andto both theistic and nontheistic populations for measuring /-J = .235 respectively, both p < .001, both N = 667);the guiding capabilities of spirituality in a persons life. however, ISS score was not significantly correlated withISS has both sttong inner consistency (Cronbach a = .96) problem use. Problem use was significantly more typicaland good reliability (Cronbach a = .80). After completing for males than for fetnales (Mann-Whitney U = 20111.5,the Hungarian translation, the resulting scale was back- Z = -2.103, p = .035, N - 667). Moreover, problem usetranslated to English by another translator, then sent to was also associated with a higher total number of drugthe original author for approval. The scale is based on a types used (U = 18600, Z = -2.790, p = .005, N = 667),concept that distinguishes spirituality as the individuals especially with a higher number of nonpsychedelic drugsrelation with God (or by any other higher ttanscenden- (U = 18528.5, Z = -3.176, p = .001, N = 667), buttal entity), whereas religion is defined as a set of beliefs, not significantly related to a higher number of psychedelicpractices, and rituals developed by gtoups of individu- drugs. A preliminary group analysis showed that the pro-als with similar experiences concerning the ttanscendent portion of problem users was 14% in the PSY target group,reality. The underlying purpose of developitig the ISS 16% in the CI control group, but only 5% in the C2 controlwas to establish a scientifically based and culturally sen- group. These biasing inequalities also justified our ini-sitive instrument, not limited only to Judeo-Christianity tial decision to exclude the 78 problem users from certainbut applicable also to practitioners of noninstitutional reli- comparisons.gions. The relationship between religious or intrinsic spir-itual goals and drug use habits had been investigated bynumerous studies (Francis 1997; Donahue & Benson 1995; Psychological Immuue CompetenceGorsuch 1995; Benson 1992). These studies had found a PICI scores ranged from 111 to 309 (M = 229.79,negative correlation between religious or intrinsic spiritual SD = 35.53, N = 589). On the main PICI scale, theregoals and drug use: A higher level of spirituality is asso- was a weak correlation with age (r^ = .168, p < .001,ciated with a lower level of drug consumption. However, N — 589), but no significant correlation with gendet. Scoresas Hodge also points out, the negative correlation found on the three PICI subscales (ABS, MCES, and SRS) cone-in Christian population samples tnay not rule out other lated with age to a lesser extent, and SRS scores for maleskinds of results in populations with fundamentally differ- were significantly higher than for females (U = 36429.5,ent types of spirituality. As our initial hypothesis predicted Z = -2.851, p - .004, N = 589). In comparison with thehigher spirituality scores on nontheistic individuals in our other scales, PICI scores correlated fairly strongly with PILtarget group, we found it necessary to use the ISS in our scores (r, = .798, p < .001, N = 589) and weakly withstudy. ISS scores {r, = .117, p < .001, N = 589). With prob- lem users included, PICI scores correlated with PSYNDEX RESULTS scores (r, - .m, p = .009, n = 366), but after filter- ing out problem users the correlation became insignificant.Drugs and Drug Use PICI scores did not correlate with the total nutnber of On the average, 5.4 different drugs were reported as drug types used, nor with the numbers of psychedelic andtried out or used by the 667 participants.^ In the matched nonpsychedelic drugs used. There were no significant PICIgroups (n = 150), there was no significant difference score differences in the three matched gtoups.Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 194 Volume 43 (3), July - September 2011
  8. 8. Moró et al. Voice of the PsychonautsPurpose In Life DISCUSSION PIL scores ranged from 28 to 137 (M = 101.26,SD = 19.23, N = 589). Gender differences were pro- As expected, our results confirmed a great vari-nounced, as the PIL score mean was 103.93 for females, ability and marked differences in the usage patterns ofbut only 99.34 for males (U = 35313.5, Z = -3.398, psychoactive drugs, even within participant groups hav-/) < .001, N = 589). However, these gender differences ing similar sociodetnographic characteristics. Findings alsobecame insignificant in the matched groups. There was show that the greatest differences are not necessarilyalso a weak correlation with age (r^ = .212, p < .001, between drug users and nonusers, but could be shaped byN — 589). PIL scores also correlated with ISS scores other factors, such as purpose and meaning of drug use.(A-, = .187, /J < .001, N = 589), but did not correlate Thus, drug use seems to be a much-nuanced phenomenonwith PSYNDEX scores. PIL scores correlated negatively that cannot be approached by oversimplified or problem-with the total number of drug types used (/-j = —.144, oriented generalizations in the lack of detailed data. Asp < .001,N = 589)atid with the number of nonpsychedelic the analysis of the PlCI scores indicated, the exclusion ofdrugs used (/•, = -.124, p = .003, N = 589), but did problem users may even out subtle differences and lead tonot correlate with the number of psychedelic drugs used. insignificant results. Similarly, it can be assumed with rea-There were no significant differences in the PIL scores of sonable certainty that an opposite apptoach—focusing onlythe three matched groups, namely the PSY tatget group on problem users—may also yield biased results. It can(M - 101.12, SD = 15.84, n = 50), the Cl control gtoup be indeed difficult to obtain propottional samples, as both(M = 101.24, SD = 19.38, n = 50), and the C2 control probletn and nonproblem users may be hidden frotn healthgroup (M = 104.52, SD = 18.09, n = 50). services, authorities, and outreach projects. Moreover, drug user subgroups may be isolated to a degree that would substantially hinder the use of Ihe snowball tnethod of par-Intrinsic Spirituality ticipant recruiting. Still, only a careful examination of the In Ihe whole sample, ISS scores ranged from 0 to 60 whole continuum of users (from nonproblem to probletn)(M = 30.99, SD = 17.36, N = 589) and were not corre- may give a sufficient contrast in data that could shed lightlating with age nor gender. Although ISS scores did not on factors behind the difterences.correlate significantly with the total number of drug types Findings from our study seemingly contradict previ-used nor with the number of nonpsychedelic drugs used, ous studies about religion and spititualily being protectivethey correlated positively with the number of psychedelic factors against drug use. It indeed seems probable that adrugs used (r, = .I64,p < .001, N = 589). ISS scores religious or spiritual attitude may keep practitioners awaywere also positively correlating with PSYNDEX scores from drug use, especially if abstinence is valued or required(/•, = .339, p < .001, n = 277). Thus, in accordance with by their comtnunity. But on the other hand, the purposes ofour expectation, ISS scores were significantly higher in the drug use may also be in accordance with certain spiritualPSY target group (M = 42.08, SD = 9.53, n = 50) than = goals, and thus may provide a sacramental meaning for thein control groups Cl (M = 30.08, SD = 16.01, n = 50) consumption act. Combining these two aspects, it couldand C2 (M = 26.78, SD = 19.86, n = 50). This finding be rather stated that spirituality may act as a protectivewas confirmed by a Kruskal-Wallis test that found a sig- factor against drug-related problems—for both nonusersnificant difference (x^ (2, N = 150) = 20.051, p < .001) and users. However, the roles of meaning and cotnmunitybetween the thtee groups. Moreover, a Mann-Whitney test values could be explored only with further studies usingverified that significant differences occurred between the qualitative methods. A more comprehensive view on thePSY target group and the Cl control group (U = 689, topic would also require background data on the generalZ = -3.870, p < .001, N = 100), and also between the level of spirituality in the population, as well as even thePSY target group and the C2 control group (U = 697.5, clarification of the meaning of spirituality, which tnight hadZ ^ -3.811, /J < .001, N = 100), but not between the been an ambiguous and individually interpreted notion fortwo control groups Cl and C2. In the matched groups, ISS the study participants.scores for males were significantly higher than for females Self-knowledge becomes a part of the mental health(U = 2122, Z = -2.108, p = .035, N = 150). A closer = process when its techniques are consciously utilized forinspection for the main source of this difference revealed charting inner resources more deeply. In this sense, auto-that C2 control group females (M = 22.0, SD = 20.55, gnostic drug use can be seen as a "training situation", asn = 32) had significantly lower ISS scores (U = 166.0, it deliberately provokes exceptional expeiiences in orderZ = -2.469, /; = .014, N = 50) than C2 control group to gain self-knowledge and to rehearse coping strategies.males (M==: 35.28, SD=: 15.71, n = 18). Albeit some possible cognitive-behavioral tnechanistns Scotes from the three instrutnents (PICl, PIL, and ISS) could be postulated, the actual efficiency and benefits ofare shown in Table 3; significant findings are presented in the whole process remains speculative until more detailedTable 4. and specific studies are carried out. As it seems highlyJotirtiat of Psychoactive Drugs 195 Volume 43 (3), July - September 2011
  9. 9. Moró et ai. Voice of the Psychonauts TABLE 3 PICI, PIL, and ISS Scores hy Group and Gender PICI PIL ISS Total Maie Female Total Male Female Total Male Female PSY Target Group (41 Maies, 9 Females) 233 231 245 101 99 110 42 42 41 Cl Cotitrol Group (33 Maies, 17 Fetnales) 231 233 227 101 102 100 30 27 35 C2 Coturol Gtoup (18 Maies, 32 Fetnales) 226 230 224 104 104 105 27 35 22 Note: Scores are from tnatched groups (n = 50). PICI = Psyehological Immune Competenee Inventory; PiL = Purpose in Life test; ISS = Intrinsic Spirituality Scale. TABLE 4 Significant Findings in PICI, PIL, ISS, and Prohleni Drug Use Number of Number of Number of All Drugs Nonpsychedelic Drugs Psychedelic Drugs PSYNDEX PICI - - - s=.l37** (N = 366) PIL /•, =-.144*** r, = -.124** - - (N = 589) (N = 589) ISS .- - ,-, = ,164*** r, = .339*** (N = 589) (N = 277) Ptoblem Drug Use U = 18600** U = 18528.5** - - Z=-2.790** Z=-3.176** (N = 667) (N = 667) Note: PICi = Psychological Itntnune Cotnpetence Itiventory; PIL = Puipose In Life test; ISS = intrinsic Spirituality Scale; * * = P < . .01;*** =p < .001.probable that beliefs, meanings, and coping strategies are drug free C2 control group. Knowing for example thealso culturally transmitted, research needs to be aitned also high rate of tobacco consumption in Hungary—29.9% ofat social discourses about drug issues. To find out more the adult population smokes cigarettes on a daily basisabout these topics, in our next study we plan to interview (Tombor et al, 2010)—it would have been too difficult toPSY target group members for a detailed description of find 50 fully abstinent control group metnbers (i.e., per-their autognostic psychedelic drug use. sons who neither smoke tobacco nor drink alcohol) in the preferred age range. NOTES 2. As a comprehensive analysis of all involved drugs and their use purposes are beyond the scope of the 1. Contrary to our expectation, the bottleneck in current study, detailed results from crosstable comparisonsparticipant recruiting turned out to be the relatively most will be reported in a separate, forthcoming publication. REFERENCESAletiian, A. & Lar0i, F. 2008. Hallucinations: The Science of Idiosyncratic Baker, J.R. 200.S. Psychedelic sacraments. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs Perception. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 37(2): 179-87.Allport, G.W. & Ross, M.J. 1967. Personal religious orientation and prej- Baker, J.R. 1994. Consciousness alteration as a problem-solving device: udice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 5 (4):432-43. The psyehedelic pathway. In: C. Ratsch & J. Baker (Eds.) YearbookAntonovsky, A. 1961. The Salutogenic Model as a theory to guide health for Ethnomedicine and the Study of Consciousness. Berlin: promotion. Health Promotion International 11(1): 11-18. VWB.Asaad, G. & Shapiro, B. 1986. Hallucinations: Theoretical and clinical Benson, PL. 1992. Religion and substance use. In: J.F. Schutnaker (Ed.) overview. American Journal of Psychiatry 143:1088-97. Religion and Mental Health. New York: Oxford University Press.Journat of Psychoactive Drtigs 196 Volutiie 43 (3), July - September 2011
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