Let’s talk about psychedelics. Whether you associate it with the kaleidoscopic grooviness of the 1970s or link it with its popularity within EDM culture, psychedelic drugs are now gaining steam thanks to growing interest among some mental health professionals who see them as a novel therapeutic for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Viewing Psychedelic Experiences As Therapeutic
In recent years, the paradigm shift in the perception of psychedelics can be largely accredited to Michael Pollan’s 2018 book, “How To Change Your Mind.” The book explores the science of psychedelics in treating mental illness. The book’s about LSD, DMT, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), and a handful of others, as Pollan informs readers that the stigma behind hallucinogens are far more frightening to people than they are dangerous to them.
Sure, people can do stupid things on the drugs and challenging trips are also real. However, under the influence of hallucinogens, one can be temporarily freed from the tyranny of the ego. One gets to experience an extreme version of what acclaimed poet John Keats calls negative capability, which is the ability to exist amid doubts and mysteries without reflexively reaching for certainty.
What is interesting to note is that veterans are pushing the legalization of psychedelic drugs, which they credit with helping ease the post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression that are often tied to their experiences in the military.
The Rise Of Psychedelic Retreats
Psychedelic retreats — in countries like Costa Rica and Jamaica, where many psychedelic substances are allowed, as well as among a shadow network of shamans in the United States who share drugs and details over social networks — are experiencing widespread growth.
People yearning to explore the depths of their consciousness flock to South America to do ayahuasca, a traditional plant-based medicine that has been used by indigenous groups for ritual healing ceremonies for centuries. It’s a sludgy, psychoactive brew from that ignites hallucinations while also inducing nausea.
In Jamaica, and in some U.S. cities, retreats offer psilocybin as well as ibogaine, a powerful psychoactive that may help combat drug addiction. In an article, Lena Ropp, a raw foods chef and psychedelic retreat enthusiast, says, “it’s not just providing fun experiences for people, it’s providing healing experiences. It’s very hard to help your head with just fresh-squeezed juice.”
The Risks Associated With Psychedelics
Psychedelics can cause psychosis or long-term mental health issues, particularly in people with a predisposition to mental illness. This can create a tricky scenario for health care providers.
In an article, Dr. Collin Reiff, a professor at New York University says, “there’s a paradigm shift with psychedelics, which makes them exciting. But we need to go slowly. The danger is becoming a true believer, and not being mindful of the dangers with them.”
The Future Of Psychedelics & Psychedelic Retreats
Many people turn to psychedelics after struggling with at least some form of depression or anxiety. Dealing with a year like 2020 has produced immense mental fragility amongst the masses. Could psychedelics become a key part of therapy?
Will we see more retreats emerge across the United States? I don’t know, but I guess we’ll find out in the near future.