Throughout our history, we’ve shown an innate desire to explore other realms of consciousness through various mind-altering substances, particularly psychedelic ones. Modern society is no different, and arguably goes to greater lengths to enjoy these insightful out-of-body experiences. Unfortunately, few people understand how to properly utilize these substances to assist with the advancement of their consciousness or to help them through trauma. Also, because many of these substances are still illegal and therefore unregulated and untested, they are often laced with other drugs, such as the dangerous and frequently lethal fentanyl.
The results of this year’s GDS were recently released, and reveal that psilocybin — the active psychedelic compound found in “magic mushrooms” — is responsible for fewer emergency medical treatments than any other drug in the world, with just 0.2% of its users having sought out medical help in the past year. Psilocybin has not only been found to be non-toxic and harmless to human health, but also remarkably effective at treating depression, even in cases where other treatment modalities have failed.
What About LSD?
Similar to psilocybin, LSD is a non-toxic substance that also has the potential to facilitate positive changes in mental health. It was also involved in fewer visits to the emergency room than other non-psychedelic drugs such as alcohol and amphetamines. Looking at the reasons why medical assistance was sought out in the first place rather than just the statistics also tells us something important: Those who went to the hospital for use of psychedelic substances were generally just experiencing some temporary anxiety, fear, or disorientation, while those using cocaine, heroin, or alcohol may have faced life-threatening complications, like overdose, alcohol poisoning, or respiratory or heart failure.
Psychedelic Substances Aren’t Completely Risk-Free
More education on these substances is still needed if we are to take advantage of their full potential. Determining dose with magic mushrooms is relatively easy, as they are generally purchased in a whole dried form and therefore can be measured by weight, but something like LSD, which comes on a blotter paper, can be difficult to dose appropriately.
When embarking on any psychedelic journey, it’s also important to have a proper understanding of what might come up, a clear reason for why you are doing it, and an understanding of what to do if the situation begins to feel overwhelming. Although many have said that having a ‘bad trip’ on shrooms improved their well-being, this is where the correct education and emotional support comes in. With appropriate education and precautions, the need for emergency medical attention while under the influence of psychedelic substances could be effectively eliminated.
The GDS also found that about one-third of regular psychedelic users have tried micro-dosing at some point in their lives. Micro-dosing involves taking a very small dose over a specific period of time that leaves you still able to function, do work, and otherwise go about your day-to-day life. This has become a popular trend among those in Silicon Valley in recent years, as it is thought to increase creativity and productivity. Many others claim micro-dosing helps them to manage a medical or psychiatric disorder.
The Beckley Foundation is preparing to begin the world’s first brain imaging study on LSD micro-dosing in order to investigate the neurological mechanisms that have been reported while under the influence of small amounts of the substance.
The more awareness that is raised about the positive and beneficial use of these substances to treat mental illness, the more we will see these laws begin to shift so that more studies can be done to prove the efficacy of psychedelic for healing. Organizations like the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) are leading the way in, but the potential truly does appear limitless.