Let’s Pick Apart Official Government Drug Claims With Actual Science

The American DEA makes a few dubious claims about several illegal drugs. Here are the claims alongside the contradictory science.

Alexander M. Combstrong
8 min readJun 8, 2022


Photo by Nastya Dulhiier on Unsplash

How accurate is drug information from the US government?

The problem with getting our information on drugs from government sources is that they’ve been politicised for years, and information will always be spun in a way that suits the politics and the law.

I wondered how this would translate to official information, and how much that information would conflict with the ongoing research into these largely illegal substances.

All the claims here are direct quotes from the USA’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the federal law enforcement agency under the Department of Justice that’s responsible for enforcing laws around the distribution and importation of illegal substances in the USA.

DEA claims on Magic Mushrooms:

“Large amounts can cause panic attacks and psychosis”

Here’s a claim in two parts. Large amounts of mushrooms can undeniably lead to panic. A bad trip is absolutely terrifying. As for the psychosis part, that’s a little more complicated.

In terms of short-term, mid-trip psychosis, you could definitely argue that that’s a yes, especially during a bad trip. But as for the longer-term idea that magic mushrooms lead to psychosis? Again, it’s complicated, but only because of the number of anecdotes of how this does indeed happen. The research, though, says it probably doesn’t. If it does, it’s not very much.

One large study (130,000 participants) found no link between drug-taking and mental health issues. Another found that the link between psychedelics and psychosis was only “marginally significant”. The same study found that psychedelics were linked to therapeutic effects in non-psychotic people. Going purely on science, you’d have to say that this claim, if it refers to a long term link, is pretty much false.



Alexander M. Combstrong

Research-backed ways to change your life for the better. Out now: The Confident Introvert’s Handbook. Actor/screenwriter. Forge, Better Humans, Mind Cafe.