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Psychedelic Medicine

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Tripping to Cope: Coping Strategies and Use of Hallucinogens during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Three Cultural Contexts

The COVID-19 pandemic has made evident the need to develop effective strategies to cushion the psychological consequences of social catastrophes. Preliminary evidence suggests that the use of hallucinogens is a protective factor that mitigates against such stressors. However, the underlying mechanisms must be further explored. This study specifically focused on the potential role of coping strategies in this regard, analyzing them through an online survey completed by a total of 2971 subjects who were followed up with from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic until six months after baseline. The survey was published in three different cultures (English, Spanish, and Portuguese), allowing for the collection of data from three different cultural contexts. The results show that coping strategies were generally more related to psychological well-being and psychopathology than to hallucinogenic drug use. However, regarding the latter, users of hallucinogens had higher scores on problem-focused engagement and disengagement and lower scores on wishful thinking than non-users. Longitudinally, while most baseline coping scores were associated with psychological distress and the severity of psychological symptoms, some coping strategies were related to the use of hallucinogens. These results show an adaptive pattern of coping strategies among hallucinogen users. Further research should take into account that coping strategies are only marginally associated with hallucinogenic drug use. Other underlying mechanisms explaining the better adjustment of users of hallucinogens to pandemics should be explored.

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