The epidemiology of mescaline use: Pattern of use, motivations for consumption, and perceived consequences, benefits, and acute and enduring subjective effects

J Psychopharmacol. 2022 Mar;36(3):309-320. doi: 10.1177/02698811211013583. Epub 2021 May 5.

Abstract

Background: Mescaline is a naturally occurring psychoactive phenethylamine found in several cacti and historically used ceremonially by Indigenous and Latin American populations. Broader recognition of its possible therapeutic value in Western science began in the 1950s; however, knowledge of the safety profile of mescaline and the extent of its use remains limited. The primary aim of this study is to examine the epidemiology of mescaline use among English-speaking adults.

Methods: About 452 respondents completed a web-based survey designed to assess their previous experience with mescaline (subjective effects, outcome measures, and mescaline type used).

Results: Most respondents reported that they had consumed mescaline infrequently (⩽once/year), for spiritual exploration or to connect with nature (74%). A small number of respondents reported drug craving/desire (9%), whereas very few reported legal (1%), or psychological problems (1%) related to its use, and none reported seeking any medical attention. Overall, respondents rated the acute mystical-type effects as "moderate," ego-dissolution and psychological insight effects as "slight," and challenging effects as "very slight." Most respondents reported that they used Peyote and San Pedro in their most memorable mescaline experience. Overall, the intensity of acute mescaline effects did not differ between mescaline types. About 50% of the sample reported having a psychiatric condition (i.e. depression, anxiety, etc.), and most (>67%) reported improvements in these conditions following their most memorable experience with mescaline.

Conclusion: Findings indicate that the mescaline in any form may produce a psychedelic experience that is associated with the spiritual significance and improvements in the mental health with low potential for abuse.

Keywords: 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine; Mescaline; epidemiology; survey.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Hallucinogens* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Mescaline
  • Motivation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Substances

  • Hallucinogens
  • Mescaline