According to the world’s largest annual drug survey, out of all common recreational drugs, psilocybin mushrooms, ketamine and cannabis pose the smallest risk of needing medical treatment.
The data comes from the recent 9th annual Global Drug Survey – the biggest drug survey in the world – which this year analysed the experience of more than 110,000 participants from over 50 countries.
Of the participants, 16.1% had taken magic mushrooms and 15.9% reported using ketamine in the last 12 months.
For both groups, just 0.6% of people reported seeking emergency medical treatment following use of either drug.
Cannabis users were the third less likely, with 0.7% seeking treatment, while 1% of cocaine, MDMA and LSD users reported needing treatment.
This is compared to a global average of 4.1% of methamphetamine users, 3.2% of synthetic cannabinoid (spice) users, and 2% of alcohol users.
Heroin users had the highest rates of emergency medical care, with 12.7% reporting emergency treatment.
It’s worth noting that the survey took place between November 7th and December 30th 2019, so are not affected by the COVID pandemic/lockdowns.
The results of the survey are pretty well aligned with previous research, including a study published in the Lancet that found alcohol to be more harmful than heroin or crack when the overall dangers to the individual and society are considered.
Co-authored by Professor David Nutt, the former government chief drugs adviser who was sacked in 2009 following publication, the study ranked 20 drugs on 16 measures of harm to users and to wider society and found that magic mushrooms are the least harmful recreational drug.
Heroin, crack and crystal meth were deemed worst for individuals, while alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the worst for society. Alcohol was found to be the worst overall.
The study also judged tobacco and cocaine to be equally harmful, while ecstasy and LSD were among the least damaging.
The study concluded that “the present drug classification systems [in the UK] have little relation to the evidence of harm.”