Psychology Research: Usage of Psychedelic Drugs and Death Anxiety
Two psychology students at University of Findlay, Rylee Sybert and Claire Heilman, recently conducted research on the use of psychedelic mushrooms to treat anxiety surrounding death and dying. Their study was initially a literature review on Alzheimer’s, but they followed their interest in this little-researched area instead.
Recently, studies have investigated the utility of therapy-assisted, micro-dosing of psychedelics for treating mood-related disturbances. Sybert and Heilman were interested in further exploring the relationship between psychedelic drug use and mortality-related anxiety. Studies of this kind are uncommon, as the stigma surrounding drug use is high. Thus, Sybert and Heilman feel that their study may help to destigmatize possible treatments for those with mood disorders or terminal diagnoses.
As a student-led study, it was a unique opportunity for the pair to work with the guidance of Vincent Coppola, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, while leading the way themselves. Sybert and Heilman said it was a challenging process, but it was also rewarding to make progress and see physical proof of their work.
Their research involved investigating whether older adults who had used psychedelics reported having different levels of death anxiety and acceptance. They discovered that very few people in their sample had ever used such drugs, which was surprising even though they had expected low numbers. Although their results did not yield what they initially hoped, they still found the experience to be valuable.
Sybert and Heilman were excited to present their research at the University of Findlay Symposium, a showcase of student research projects across all disciplines. “We hoped our findings will inspire more conversations and studies on the potential benefits of psychedelic therapy,” said Sybert. They also emphasized the importance of seeking guidance and support from professors and upperclassmen, who can offer valuable advice and resources.