Yesterday I randomly searched YouTube for people’s stories about how they have healed and grown using illegal substances. Despite deep stigma and threats of reprisals these stories are not hard to find.
All these people are someone’s child. They are siblings, parents, friends, colleagues. You probably know several people who have similar stories, even if you haven’t heard them. Each story is about someone’s life, and every life is a universe in itself.
Listen to their stories. If you still think that these substances should be illegal, stigmatized and users hunted by the judicial system – please, explain your reasoning to me. Tell me why Ruth shouldn’t have been given Ibogaine for her crack and heroin addiction, why Rachel who was sexually abused at age four should not have been given MDMA-assisted therapy, why Alex’s parents should not give autistic Alex cannabis and why Deepak Chopra, one of today’s great spiritual inspirators, should not have taken LSD.
Tell me why people should respect the law more than they value their own recovery.
Iboga / Ibogaine
Howard Lotsof accidentally discovers Ibogaines ability to abruptly break heroin addiction.
Ruth Zupan solves a crack and heroin addiction with Ibogaine …
Patrick solve intractable PTSD with Iboga …
Psychedelic mushrooms / Psilocybin
1 grams of psychedelic mushrooms solves Stickys long and complex depression, and his social anxiety.
Annie got terminal cancer and with it very much worry and anxiety, which psychedelic mushrooms solved.
People have always searched for the higher meaning of existence. In their search they have had sensations of the highest divine and tried to name that which cannot be named. They have sacrificed to Zeus, thanked Freya, asked Shiva for focus and God for mercy. They have searched inward and outward with dance, prayer, singing, yoga and meditation.
One of the oldest traditions in order to get in touch with the highest divine, and with the other realities that surround us, has been by using plants. In the beginning humans were very close to nature and talked with the sun and the plants, the wind and stones. Nature was a teacher who shared its wisdom, but who also helped humans to be able to get in contact to other realities.
Over time some people have however made the experience more academic than spiritual. While the original spirituality was based on every persons own experience and their own contact with the highest divine, nowadays many people are content to believe in a constructed religion. They do of course overlap, but I’m guessing that most religious people today do not have a personal experience of contact with the highest divine, but are satisfied with believing others’ descriptions of it.
To me there is big group of illegal substances that is intimately connected with spiritual exploration – mostly those we would call natural psychedelics. I’m talking about plants and preparations such as Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Peyote, Cannabis (semi-psychedelic), psychedelic mushrooms and Iboga.
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Ayahuasca is a preparation made from a jungle vine and another plant. Shamans have probably used it for more than 6,000 years to have contact with other realities and heal people. It is used almost exclusively in ceremonial contexts, but is banned in Sweden because it contains the natural substance DMT, which is also found in the human brain and appears to be heightened and released by prolonged meditation, sleep, and at the moment of death.
San Pedro and Peyote cacti are used in similar ways and in similar contexts, for deep transformative and spiritual experiences. As far as we know the knowledge to work with them is probably more than 4,000 years old, but as with all these substances it might very well have been used for much longer than that. Today the knowledge is kept alive by South American shamans and North American Indians. While the cacti itself is legal in Sweden, it is illegal to consume it because it contains the natural substance mescaline.
Cannabis is regarded in Hinduism as a gift from the god Shiva to mankind, created from his body. It has been used for more than 4,000 years, both spiritually as medically in Hinduism and Buddhism, but more recently also in religions such as Islam and Rastafarianism. It is celebrated for its spiritual, mystical properties, but also because it allows people to see through illusions and lies. In the drug context cannabis is among the least dangerous substances, much less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, but it is being fought with tremendous zeal. The active ingredient THC is easily spotted with a quick urine test.
Psychedelic mushrooms are available in hundreds of varieties and on every continent. The most famous Swedish psychedelic mushrooms are the Liberty caps, used by witches and shamans. In Europe, however, the Christian mass murder of dissidents makes it difficult to track past use. The mushrooms produce similar deep spiritual experiences including contact with other realities, past lives, a connectedness with nature and with the universe. Liberty caps are commonly picked in cow meadows after the first frost, but if you do so you are a criminal. All mushrooms containing the natural ingredient psilocybin are forbidden to handle.
Iboga is a West African shrub that contains the illegal natural substance ibogaine. It is documented to have been used in Africa in a spiritual context since the 19th century, but before that it is difficult to say. It gives deep transformative experiences and having taken Iboga one will often lie down for an entire day. Nowadays Iboga is most famous for its medicinal properties, as it has been proved to be able to break even deep rooted addiction with only one or two trips. But to do so is illegal.
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These are just a few of the illegal substances that have been used in spiritual practice for thousands of years before such recent phenomena as Christianity came along. Natural psychedelics are found on all continents, and maybe even in all countries. The tradition of using them in order to get in contact with other realities and with the highest divine has been preserved in many places in the world – by shamans in South America, witches in Europe, yogis and shamans in Asia and medicine men/women in North America, Africa and possibly Australia. However, they have for long periods been forced to go into hiding, because above all Christianity has violently persecuted them. Today this continues with the help of the disrespectful and discriminatory drug laws.
Drug laws thus not only violate minority rights, but also each person’s inherent right to their own spiritual experience and journey.
There are those who argue that these plants should only be used in their original cultural contexts, that is only the shamans of the Amazon should be working with Ayahuasca, and only the medicine men/women of North America with Peyote. With that logic the Liberty caps should of course be legal in Sweden. But besides that these people seem to overlook that we live in a globalized world and that the spiritual search has never let itself be confined to places or cultural context. Just as religions spread across the world and have borrowed freely from each other’s cultural contexts, shamanism is also worldwide and practitioners are inspired by each other. There have also been new substances used in similar ways, with similar spiritual effects and with similar healing properties – LSD, MDMA and Ketamine, to name a few.
Some people speak of religious freedom. I guess that would be the freedom to settle for believing in other people’s descriptions of the highest divine. I’m not interested in religious freedom. I require spiritual freedom – the freedom to have my own spiritual experience and my own contact with the highest divine. If my spiritual path happens to involve working with plants and in a tradition that is older than any religion, that is my business as long as I do not harm anyone else. A law that tries to stop me from doing so is nothing more than oppression and discrimination institutionalized.
At any point in time there are ideas that are so taken for granted that we find it difficult to imagine that it could be otherwise. They are so deeply ingrained in us that we are provoked if anyone questions them, even if the questioning is fully rational.
Drug legislation is such an idea. When weighing in all good and all bad that it brings, there is only one reasonable conclusion: the law is foolish. But say that out loud in Sweden today and you will be mocked, booed and threatened. All sense and logic seems to take a vacation whenever the subject comes up, and otherwise seemingly intelligent people suddenly behave like hateful narrow-minded bigots.
But all such ideas eventually collapse. We call it a paradigm shift. There is such a shift on its way right now. The USA, that has been aggressively active in what has become a war on drugs, is changing direction. Right now cannabis is being legalized, and as more and more amazing results in scientific studies of psychedelics are published, it is only a matter of time before substances like psilocybin (mushrooms), LSD and MDMA are also legalized.
This week I will try to show some of the worrying problems with the current situation, give you some users perspectives on certain illegal substancesand propose some measures that I think should be taken into consideration in a future legalization.
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When the first steps were taken to create the drug laws we see today, the aim was mainly to minimize addiction problems. The aim was to use the law to steer people away from getting caught up in addiction, destroying their lives and committing other criminal acts. There have been other, more shady reasons also, such as racism, but I want to see the good in people, so let’s say that is the primary reason.
So what has been the outcome of the criminalization of drugs?
Criminal organizations have become immensely rich.
The black market on drugs funds a wide array of criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, mafias, paramilitary organizations, biker gangs and suburban gangs. This lucrative market finances other criminal activities, such as acts of terrorism and militarization.
Violence has increased many times over.
In addition to the criminal violence that drug profits are used to finance, there is plenty of violence at all levels of handling drugs, from the producers down to the final consumer. There is an outright war against drugs today, and parts of that war are being waged with military strategy and equipment. The majority of the violence takes place abroad and just as in other wars, many of the victims are innocent civilians. Drug conflicts are destabilizing entire countries and regions.
Police and other resources are being wasted.
There are vast resources spent on combating drugs, resources that could have been used better. If all those resources that are now being spent on chasing and punishing people who use drugs, were instead spent on helping addicts, we would have the most amazing addiction treatment the world has ever seen. We spend much more on fighting and punishing, than we do on helping or treating addicts.
More criminals are created.
When drugs were outlawed that instantaneously created a large new group of “criminals” whose only crime is that they like certain substances more than others. The vast majority – more than with alcohol or nicotine – don’t have and will never have any problems with the substances they use. The only contact many of these people will ever have with a criminal underworld is when they buy drugs. Even so, they will be treated as criminals and addicts if they get caught and will get a ticket to the same prison as other criminals. Through the legal system they are stigmatized, forced into debt and are given more criminal contacts, which in the worst case is a gateway to a criminal lifestyle.
The laws are used to harass people.
Drug laws are used by the police to take people with a certain appearance, taste in music, or ethnic background into custody without any realistic suspicion. Many of the drug laws have racist roots, reflected in today’s application of them. People are also indirectly harassed through the exclusion that they are forced into and the stigma they face. The system embedded hypocrisy in all of this is especially noticeable when many of the ones being hunted use significantly less dangerous substances than the legal alternatives.
Addicts are prevented from getting proper care.
Addicts are sick, but are treated as criminals, and authorities can at any time deprive them of any security and impose unreasonable demands on them. Even those who voluntarily seek government help to get rid of their addiction are treated as a criminal and are often given late and inadequate assistance, if any at all, because the resources are rather devoted to controlling and punishing the person. This creates a high amount of stress among many addicts, which undermines recovery and triggers relapses, with exclusion and alienation as a result.
Creates a black market that wants people to be addicted.
The criminal organizations that control the black market have an interest in keeping people hooked and to attract them back into using. One result is that the market prefers more addictive drugs such as heroin rather than opium.
The lack of quality control is lethal.
On the black market, there is no quality control. Drugs can be diluted with other dangerous substances. They can also be something quite different from what they are said to be, giving the user an experience that s/he didn’t anticipate. Sometimes the substance is much stronger than what the user is used to, which may lead to severe accidental overdoses. Many deaths that occur on drugs are because of accidental overdoses, combined with a fear to seek help.
Research Chemicals harm and kill.
Another dangerous development is that people who want to avoid breaking the law buy so-called Research Chemicals instead. These are new compounds that have not yet been classified, and are therefore legal, but they can sometimes be deadly. Knowledge about dosage and how they react with other substances (such as alcohol) is often virtually non-existent, which is a very dangerous combination. Thus drug users who want to stay on the right side of the law are steered away from well-known and less hazardous substances, to substances which are unknown and in some cases even fatal.
Alternativetreatments are being prevented.
Ironically many of the substances which are particularly effective to help relieve addiction are classified as drugs without medical value. LSD-assisted therapy for alcoholics had, when it was legal, a far higher efficiency than the 12-step program has ever had. Ibogaine, an incredibly powerful psychedelic substance, has been shown to cure heroin addiction in just a few doses. But rather than give heroin addicts access to Ibogaine, we lock them in other addictions, such as with Subutex/Suboxone or Methadone. In the current situation there is no treatment that comes close to being as effective as psychedelic assisted treatment, but these therapeutic tools have been wrongly classified as drugs.
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Now imagine that you step back in time to just before today’s repressive drug laws were first passed. You are a decision maker and it worries you to see the addiction problems associated with some of the drugs. On the table is a proposal to ban a variety of substances and impose severe penalties.
On the table there is also an analysis on what other impact the law would have. Among the consequences you read are: criminal organizations will become immensely rich, violence will increase and even lead to war in several countries, the drug profits will fund terror crimes and wars, police resources will be wasted, more criminals will be created, addicts will get worse care, drug users will be exposed to more addictive substances, the lack of quality control will lead to more deaths, more dangerous substances will be researched and sold in order to circumvent the law and the most promising treatments to cure addiction will be stopped . But despite all this, the number of actual addicts will remain about the same.
today I found your informational webpage. There is wealth of knowledge of personal growth, and spiritual development. These are subjects I am interested in experiencing more. I understand the notion of letting go of the past, and re-living/re-experiencing past traumas to heal the soul. I have been wanting to experience psychedelics. I live in the USA and do not know how to go about this. I am a regular person who wants to grow. I know that you can be of some guidance to me. I am curious to know what your thoughts are about this.
Warm Regards, Dewayne
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Thank you for your mail, Dewayne!
I have collected a few random thoughts for you this evening, just to get started. I’m posting it here, since others might be interested and have similar questions.
Is this my path?
It is very common that people that use psychedelics at some point believe that all the world’s problems would be solved if only all people would use psychedelics. Therefore you might from time to time meet people that will preach the gospel of psychedelics and try to convince you to give it a try. Psychedelics can be useful for many people, but it is a path of personal and spiritual discovery that is quite special and extremely powerful. Many people are far from being able to handle psychedelics.
I don’t want to convince people to try psychedelics. Instead I tell of my experiences. Some people will instinctively feel that I am speaking of a path that is similar to theirs, while others will feel the opposite. When using such powerful tools it is important that the will to use them comes from the seeker, and not from outside pressure.
In your case you already know that this is a path that you wish to explore, so I feel confident that psychedelics are for you. If they weren’t you wouldn’t be writing me on the subject. But other readers, please listen to your own inner voice and ask yourself if this is your path. Don’t let anyone else pressure you into it.
Why am I doing this?
If you are approaching this as a conscious exploration, you might want to have an idea why you are doing it and what you are looking for. It is often the case that the more precise you are, the easier it will be to reach the wanted effects. If you are looking for healing from trauma, as an example, your preparations might be different from if you are looking to connect with spirit or to explore your creativity.
Even though I think it is a good idea to have a clear intention, I don’t want to say that this is of paramount importance, because people’s paths are very different. Some work in a very structured manner, while others are much more intuitive and open to what happens in the here and now. But having said that I still think you should have some kind of idea what you are looking for in the experience.
What specific substance am I looking for?
The substance that you need will probably find you just when you need it. The universe has a way of working things out like that.
If you know what psychedelic you are supposed to start with – don’t settle for something else. We are sometimes tempted with lesser experiences to test our conviction. You might know that you need mushrooms, but you are offered MDMA. In that case, wait for mushrooms.
For healing and personal/spiritual growth I can only really recommend what I consider to be true psychedelics: mushrooms (psilocybin), ayahuasca (DMT), peyote (mescaline) or LSD. There are many others out there, but those are the most common. The three first are natural plant medicines. They are entities, plant teachers that will speak with you and teach you things. LSD is not an entity, but unlocks your own mental structures.
I don’t think of MDMA or cannabis as psychedelics and I wouldn’t suggest them for the kind of work we are discussing, even though I know they are being used successfully with that purpose.
On your own, with friends or with guidance?
What works best for you ultimately goes back to who you are and what attitude you have. Some people need someone to hold their hand. Others will jump off the highest trampoline the first thing they do.
If you haven’t used psychedelics before I don’t recommend doing it alone. Do it with friends that you trust, in a place where you feel safe and comfortable. Or do it with a proper guide or shaman in a safe setting, where you are taken care of by experienced people.
Be safe and feel safe.
Where can I find psychedelics?
If you don’t have any contacts this can of course be a little tricky, but you’ll need to go about it in one of two ways: 1. find contacts, or 2. find psychedelics.
You can find people who will help you out in cultures where such substances are being used, such as among ravers, psychedelic explorers, shamans, indigenous healers or in new age/yoga circles. Living in the US you have quite a lot of exciting places to explore. Coming up you have events like Telluride Mushroom Festival, Burning Man Festival, Horizons conference and Science and nonduality conference, to mention a few. You have communities like Reset.me and Sand. If you are keen on travelling close by you have Spirit Plant Medicine conference or you could go to the indigenous healers of Central and South America. There are plenty of retreat centers that work with psychedelics. You also have the peyote healers in the US, but I’m not sure how open their work is.
It is possible to find mushrooms and peyote in the wild. The plants in the area that you live are always the best to work with, so check out what might be growing close by. Be careful when picking mushrooms though, so you don’t pick mushrooms that are actually poisonous. Mushrooms containing psilocybin are often listed as poisonous, but aren’t actually.
There are a few thoughts for you, Dewayne. Please feel free to ask me more specific questions in the comment section or by mail.
All the best to you!
Photo: Walking Around (52th52) by Alexandre Normand on Flickr
– It extends here, he explained, while he built the molecule with hand gestures.
For a chemist, it was probably obvious what was happening there in the thin air in front of him. For me it was completely incomprehensible, yet incredibly fascinating. There is something very beautiful and attractive about people who are so involved in what they do.
The rest of the audience seemed to know exactly who he was, but I stumbled into the lecture without a clue. Alexander Shulgin, and next to him his wife Ann Shulgin. Both gray-haired, old, but with a sparkling natural glow that lit up the room. Together they spun the story of his life’s work.
Alexander made it his life’s work to synthesize and develop new psychedelics. He then tested them with his wife, before they tested them together with friends.
– How do you usually do when you try them the first time? asked one of the audience.
– Well, usually we’re in the bedroom. Many of these substances have lovely erotic effects, said Ann Shulgin and made the audience giggle in recognition.
His two books PIHKAL and TIHKAL (Phenethylamines and Tryptamines I Have Known And Loved) include all the basic information on the magical molecules which he discovered. He published all the recipes, so that the pharmaceutical industry could not patent them, and thus keep them away from the public. Best known of all the substances attributed to Shulgin is not a discovery, but the rediscovery of MDMA – the sought-after ingredient in Ecstasy.
MDMA releases serotonin in the brain, leading to extremely happy and emphatic states. In this lies both the substance’s blessing as its curse. If you are over using MDMA, it is easy to burn out the reserves and plummet into depression and feelings of emptiness and meaninglessness. However, if you use it with proper caution and with an intention, then it can be a miraculous remedy for such things as depression, anxiety of death, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, empathy disorders and the like. That was the main area where the substance was first made available – it was used with excellent results by therapists to help people who were stuck in different ways. However, the substance was soon picked up in club and rave culture, and when the establishment saw how strangely the youths started dancing and behaving it was banned.
What do you think happened next?
Well, criminal organizations took over the manufacturing and distribution of the substance. MDMA became big business for the Mafia, militant groups, motorcycle gangs and suburban gangs. Quality control disappeared and consumers could not be sure that the substance was pure or what strength it held.
Young people continued to experiment in such a high degree that it can rightly be considered the single most important ingredient for the development of rave culture. The availability is high and many people use it, but because it is illegal, many safety nets fail. For example, if someone would feel acutely bad, many would avoid contacting authorities because they would risk getting caught.
Of course some people are getting caught, but it is rarely at the level in the criminal organizations where it actually matters. Many people who get caught are very young and are at the bottom of the chain, sometimes only as users. They are judged and stigmatized accordingly and lose opportunities in life, with no effect on supply or demand.
The big losers, however, are all those suffering from death anxiety, depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress and empathy disorders. They are war-traumatized, rape victims, cancer patients, drug users, those who have lost children, those who no longer dare to feel emotions and those who see life in gray. They are the ones that are deprived of a legitimate and powerful therapeutic tool.
Only now, 30 years after MDMA was banned, clinical studies are beginning to be permitted on a very small scale. Not surprisingly they show stunning results and cures.
The psychedelic godfather Alexander Shulgin died on 2 June 2014.
Thanks for letting me watch you play with molecules in the air.
What do you mean by dangerous, Daniel? Do you mean for the mind or for body, or is it a combination?
I want to start with a disclaimer – I haven’t put a lot of thought into this. There are probably many sharp minds who have, but I can imagine splitting the harmful effects into at least six categories.
1. Physical damage and the possibility of dying.
Some substances are physically much more dangerous than others. For example, in Sweden 12.000 people die every year from smoking. This can be compared with the number of deaths for all illicit drugs together, which barely passes the 500 mark. This is comparable to the number of suicides, and some of them are of course suicides. Hundreds of people die each year from alcohol poisoning, but we have yet to seen anyone die of cannabis.
If we look at damage caused by substances, I have seen estimates that between 10-25 percent of the hospital beds in Sweden are occupied by someone who is there because of their drinking. And even though nobody is dying of cannabis, there are those who take physical damage, such as with memory impairment. Other physically dangerous drugs are, for example, opiates (including heroin), cocaine and amphetamine.
2. Physical and psychological dependence.
Some drugs are physically addictive, so that users get a strong physical craving for them. Some of the more well known are opiates, nicotine, alcohol and cocaine. From my own experience I can say that cannabis is also physically addictive, but much less so than nicotine.
There are many substances which do not create physical dependence, but people with addictive personalities don’t need a physical addiction to abuse a substance. The addict has a frame of mind where the search for the next high/intoxication is compulsive.
Drug opponents sometimes try to convince us that illegal substances that do not create physical dependence, instead automatically create psychological dependence. That is not my experience when it comes to psychedelics. LDS and magic mushrooms create no physical dependencies, but also seems to have built into the actual experience that people are satisfied and needs time to integrate their insights. Psychedelics sometimes also moderate or often solve addiction problems. Certainly there are addictive personalities looking for highs with psychedelics, but it is more common that people use psychedelics in a moderate manner.
3. Mental harm.
Here it starts to get tricky, because discomfort is not the same as harm. Is it mental harm to trigger psychosis or latent disorders? I do not think psychoses always let themselves be categorized so easily, because they can often lead on to something extremely positive. Many addicts have paranoid traits, but is it really a sign that the drug did something with their psyche or is it the result of a long, well-founded fear of the legal system?
Leaving this aside, I think that it is really important to address the “bad trips” reported on psychedelics. This is not to be regarded as mental harm, no matter how ignorantly one discusses the matter.
A bad trip pretty much always stems from the persons inability to handle that which comes up during the trip. It could be a childhood trauma, fear, or pain that you have caused others. When something like this pops up during a trip we can choose to face the problem, or we can try to escape from it. When we try to run away from aspects of ourselves that need healing, we hurt ourselves, which can lead to, for example, depression or psychosis. But the problem is not that we have the opportunity to confront this. The opportunity is really a great gift. The problem is that we do not dare or have the ability to meet these challenges and that we are fleeing from ourselves. Mental difficulties that occur in this way should therefore not be attributed to the substance, but rather the person’s inability to meet themselves. The solution to it all is education, support and guidance; something we get very little of in society today.
Flashbacks on psychedelics is a curious chapter in itself. There are those who suffer from involuntary lingering effects, such as prolonged light, bouncing sound etc. I cannot say much about that. However, there is another kind of flashback, the one where you experience new, but true perception. Example, let’s say you open up the ability to see energy patterns in nature. When the trip is over, the ability stays. It was there all along and just needed to be opened up, jump started. This could also be considered a flashback and for someone who cannot put the ability into an understandable context, it can be misinterpreted as mental injury. But again, the problem is not the substance or what it opened up, but the persons inability to deal with it.
4. Increased risk behavior.
There are substances that are clearly linked to risky behavior. In that sense I have not been in contact with anything more dangerous than alcohol. Example, I have driven a car plastered, really fast on a winding country road in the dark. If I had smoked cannabis instead, I might still have gotten behind the wheel, but instead of driving 40 kilometers over the speed limit, I would likely have driven 40 kilometers below it. When I smoked cannabis, it made me very careful and cautious.
It is no coincidence that drunkenness and violence go hand in hand. Alcohol brings out an aggressive mentality – of course not in all, but in very many – and it ‘s very easy to go out of control on alcohol. It is no coincidence that there is next to no violence at rave parties, where illegal substances are easily accessible. People on cannabis, MDMA, LSD or mushrooms often have a hard time understanding violence, and even more difficulty participating in it.
One myth regarding LSD is that you think that you can fly and jump out of a window. On alcohol, I have climbed scaffoldings and cranes, swum across lakes, thrown myself into channels, gotten into quarrels and driven cars. On LSD, I usually walked around in the woods looking at the flowers and trees, meditated, danced, explained to people how much I love them and felt at one with the universe.
5. Danger to society.
Some things are obvious risks to society, such as violence, abuse and theft. An economist would perhaps also count in sick days and lost productivity as dangers to society. We might with small differences all agree, and I think it is clear which substances are hazardous in this respect.
One issue that I think is interesting is whether there is a danger to society when its citizens refuse to obey unjust laws. I would argue that it is not a danger to society when people ignore the drug laws to seek alternative ways to heal, develop, connect to the divine, or just relax and have fun. It is on the contrary a very healthy challenge that will lead to positive change. Unfortunately, many get into trouble, being prosecuted for things that should not be considered criminal. That is a danger to society.
6. Spiritual danger.
From personal experience I can say that there are substances that connect us to the divine and there are substances that stun and disconnect us. Psychedelics such as mushrooms, DMT, mescaline and LSD have the ability to connect us. Substances such as opiates, alcohol, nicotine, amphetamines, and cocaine disconnect us.
When I talk about what is dangerous, this is not what I ‘m talking about. This has its own chapter.
To return to the question: what do I think of as dangerous?
When I say dangerous, I mainly mean what is physically dangerous – that is what kills, what hurts, what leads to physical dependence, what leads to dangerous behavior and what leads to violence and crime that affects other people. These substances I consider to be the most dangerous and they include drugs like opiates, alcohol, nicotine and amphetamines. Funny enough, these are all in some form legal and readily available, and the deadliest (nicotine) and the most risky (alcohol) are completely legal.
I am not so naive as to dismiss psychological risks, but we should not, as today, exaggerate them. These risks can be minimized with education and guidance. I see two main psychological hazards:
1. Abuse. The abuse is never in substance, but in the person. We need to help people overcome addictions, instead of stigmatizing them. Substance abuse is a sickness and should not be fought with law.
2. People freak out because they do not know how to handle life. We need to give people the tools to process trauma, fear, sadness, anxiety, depression, and similar things, so that they may take control of their lives instead of being caught off guard and freaking out.
I have had some comments and questions about my channeled blog post on how dangerous different substances actually are, so I’d like to answer them here. In the previous post there were two lists. The first was a list of substances that are harmful, while the second was a list of substances that might be harmful dependig on how we use them.
Mushrooms can destroy the kidneys after ONE trip.
Magic mushrooms may put a little extra load on the kidneys, which can be felt as a soreness, especially when the mushrooms have been eaten fresh. I have however never found any information that mushrooms would be dangerous, even at very high doses and prolonged use. Had there been cases where people actually got their kidneys damaged, I guess that it would be well documented and thus familiar knowledge among people who work with psychedelics. But I have heard about ignorant drug counselors in Sweden spreading such misinformation.
When I google it while writing this, I still find no evidence of harmed kidneys. What I do find is a Swedish article from Läkartidningen (magazine for the Swedish union of Medical Doctors) which states that “The mushrooms do not contain toxins which harm inner organs. […] The risk of severe medical ill effects while using psilocybe mushrooms is mainly due to physical trauma as a result of uncontrolled behavior. Later, so-called ” flashbacks ” may lead to problems of a psychological nature. Another aspect is the risk of confusion with other mushroom species. Kidney failure has been reported after ingestion of mushrooms that were thought to be hallucinogenic, but in fact contained kidney injuring toxins.”
I dare almost certainly dismiss the claim that psychedelic mushrooms destroys kidney function. That claim seems to be part of the extensive flora of false “facts” that figure in the drug debate.
You rank cocaine as less harmful than amphetamine, while much research has shown that cocaine claims more victims, is more addictive and so on. How is that?
The list presented is channeled from the spirit world. I haven’t put it together. When it comes to amphetamine and cocaine, I have far too little knowledge to be able to say anything about it.
MDMA is included in the category of dangerous substances. What do you think about MDMA´s potential as a therapeutic tool? Dr. Rick Doblin (MAPS) conducts research on this and he is also a user of MDMA. Personally I would put MDMA in the category “dangerous if used incorrectly.”
The people at MAPS once showed me a letter written by two parents, where a therapist had done MDMA-assisted therapy on the family when the 30 year old daughter was about to pass away in cancer. The family was locked in utter death panic/anxiety. In the session they all took MDMA together and then they looked through their old photo album, all their old home movies and talked about all the wonderful moments that they had together. MDMA releases serotonin, which among other things makes you very empathetic. After they found the deep connection and gratitude for all they have experienced together, they were able to leave each other in love, instead of being locked in panic. The letter made an extremely deep impression on me and I get all chocked up just writing about it. With that letter still fresh in my memory (I read it in 2006) I of course think it should be legal. It is dreadful when laws prevent such help.
However, shortly after I met a guy who was also around 30. He had used a lot of Ecstacy and had, when I met him, quite recently completed many years of therapy trying to recover from the abuse. He told me that he had four years of his life that were just a mush. He could not distinguish one event from another, one year from another. It was four years lost and it had taken him four more years of therapy to accept that he had lost those four years. Now of course Ecstacy is not the pure substance MDMA , so there is no telling what he actually used, but I think it highlights the other end of the spectrum of that drug.
I definitely see a place for MDMA, but I might also put it on the second list.
Mescaline is a genuine psychedelic substance. Why is it on the second list, among the substances that can harm us if we use them incorrectly? Should it not be included among the substances that put us in touch with the gods?
I know far to little about the substance Mescaline to have a hunch about where it should be placed, but I also reacted when I saw it on the list. One interpretation that I find plausible is this:
In traditional plant medicine you work with one or several plants. In the case of Mescaline the most common plants to work are probably San Pedro or Peyote. These plants are revered as teachers and they are very communicative. There is intelligence there far beyond what we can imagine and it guides, helps and heals us.
When we isolate the molecule Mescaline we strip it of all else it was in relation to. We strip it of the intelligence that was there. This is what modern Western medicine does when it isolates molecules without understanding their functions and then forces them together with other molecules, hoping to solve illness from an intellectual level. Mescaline will still give a genuine psychedelic experience and if you are good at navigating it you can have great breakthroughs. But it will be without a plant teacher there to guide and heal you. Perhaps that difference can be what qualifies it for the second list?
Isn’t cannabis a psychedelic substance? If so, why is it on the second list?
Cannabis is usually referred to as a semi-psychedelic substance. In my opinion it can have psychedelic properties, but I would not confuse it with true psychedelics. If you have smoked cannabis, I don’t think that you should be under the impression that you have tried psychedelics.
The plant is considered sacred in many spiritual contexts, for example among the Sadhus in India, Sufis of Pakistan and Rastafarians in Jamaica. However, I have never seen it used that way in Sweden. Here I have mostly seen a recreational, or in some cases a medical use.
I have smoked my share of cannabis and feel that it fits very well in the second list, along with sugar and caffeine. It is clearly nowhere near as dangerous as any of the substances on the first list, even when used intensively.
– I want to be among the living. Again and again I heard it I my head, like a mantra. I want to be among the living. I want to be among the living.
– That may sound pretty trivial in hindsight, but I felt down and turned off for a long time. There are so many who are dead inside, and when the mantra went round in my head, I realized I no longer wanted to be among them. I belong among the living, because I want to live.
The MDMA experience was an awakening for Peter.
– Since then I try to be more active and life-affirming. I want to see more, do more, and experience more. I actually connect with people and I also practice to be more forgiving and humble. I try to see the good in people.
– The realization has given me a lot of joy in life, but it’s a quest. I have my ups and downs, but even so, I look at the future with a different confidence than before. I am among the living again.
The following is an excerpt from a channeling about substances, where two lists were presented. The first is an exact list. These substances are very dangerous and the list is sorted according to how dangerous they are. In the second list are some examples of substances that can be dangerous if we use them incorrectly. It is not sorted.
1. Heroin and other opiates