Given high rates of depression and suicide among marginalized women, and increasing calls to integrate trauma-informed biomedical and community-led structural interventions, this study longitudinally examines the potential moderating effect of psychedelic use on the relationship between other illicit drug use and suicide risk.
Data (2010-2017) were drawn from a community-based, prospective open cohort of marginalized women in Vancouver, Canada. Extended Cox regression analyses examined the moderating effect of psychedelic use on the association between other illicit drug use and incidence of suicidal ideation or attempt over follow-up.
Of 340 women without suicidal ideation or attempt at baseline, 16% ( n=53) reported a first suicidal episode during follow-up, with an incidence density of 4.63 per 100 person-years (95% confidence interval 3.53-6.07). In unadjusted analysis, psychedelic use moderated the relationship between prescription opioid use and suicide risk: among women who did not use psychedelics, prescription opioid use increased the hazard of suicide (hazard ratio 2.91; 95% confidence interval 1.40-6.03) whereas prescription opioid use was not associated with increased suicidal ideation or attempt among those who used psychedelics (hazard ratio 0.69; 95% confidence interval 0.27-1.73) (interaction term p-value: 0.016). The moderating effect of psychedelics remained significant when adjusted for confounders (interaction term p-value: 0.036).
Psychedelic use had a protective moderating effect on the relationship between prescription opioid use and suicide risk. In the context of a severe public health crisis around prescription opioids and lack of addiction services tailored to marginalized women, this study supports calls for innovative, evidence-based and trauma-informed interventions, including further research on the potential benefits of psychedelics.