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A New Year resolution to be true to

You can only control what you are aware of.
What you aren’t aware of controls you.

 

We often find ourselves being pushed around by such things like old habits that we are unaware of, past programming that is no longer relevant or blockages that we have managed to forget about. The only way we can change these old patterns is by first becoming aware of them. That is why raising awareness is at the very core of handling any change you need to do in your life. It is at the very beginning of the process and nothing can be done without it.

If you need to raise your awareness in order to work with change it therefore goes without saying that you should avoid drugs and medicines that numb you and lower your awareness. Common drugs that should be avoided are alcohol, opiates and pharmaceutical antidepressants. Caffeine, nicotine and cannabis are also numbing when used on a daily or close to daily basis. Junk food and sugar are also really bad for awareness.

Things that will raise your awareness include meditation, exercise, mindful sex, good food cooked from scratch, herbs, hugs and playing. This is of course also why psychedelic medicines are such powerful agents of change, because they drastically raise our awareness.

So do you want a tip for a New Year resolution that will help you immensely and that you can always find new ways of being true to? Promise yourself to be more aware this coming year. Instead of focusing in on one specific, such as exercise, see the bigger picture. It all comes down to awareness and you can become more aware in so many different ways. Give yourself a bigger promise this year, and at the same time make it one that you can keep.

Make 2016 all about awareness.

Photo: amber us by Shannon Kringen on Flickr

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In the gateway

The metaphors we use often help us unlock new understandings, but it is important to also be aware of the barriers they can place on how we understand things. If I for example say that the human body is like a machine then that might be a great way of gaining new perspectives on how my body works. But if I cling to the metaphor I might forget all the ways in which my body doesn’t work like a machine. Some people go as far as confusing what they are talking about with the metaphor, so they end up thinking that their body IS a machine.

There is a theory called “gateway drug theory” that links use of lighter drugs to the use of heavier drugs later on. The theory is based on the very simple metaphor of a gateway or door. Once you try something it opens up the door to something else. One reason that the theory is so popular is that it is very easy to understand and communicate, because people have a general understanding that something comes first and then other things follow.

Gateway drugs

Most people I hear arguing along the lines of “gateway drugs” are talking about cannabis as a gateway drug that leads on to heavier drugs. There are definitely people who get introduced to other drugs by using cannabis first, but I think cannabis is not the best example of a gateway drug.

There is little inherent to cannabis to lure people to try other substances. It is possible to use cannabis to try to escape or dampen reality, so if one is looking for that experience cannabis might lead you further in exploring drugs such as opiates, alcohol and amphetamine. It is also possible to use cannabis to explore ones inner working, so people who seek tools to heal and grow might go on to try psychedelics.

But in itself cannabis isn’t a plant which urges you to try other plants or substances. One major reason that people go from cannabis to other illegal plants or substances is that they are often in contact with dealers who offer more than cannabis. In that case it isn’t really the cannabis which is the gateway, but rather the person selling or the criminal setting.

There are other drugs which are much more fitting to describe as gateway drugs and the three most common are ALCOHOL, NICOTINE and PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION. These are often used as an escape from reality, so people who are looking for such an outlet can be attracted to other substances that do the same.

The two legal substances ALCOHOL and NICOTINE have a similar aura to them which often expresses itself as I DON’T GIVE A SHIT. People who drink are commonly much more aggressively risk taking and self-destructive than people who use cannabis and people who try illegal substances are often drunk the first times they do so. Smokers and drinkers alike are already in the habit of poisoning themselves, so the step to other harmful substances is shorter. Since alcohol and nicotine effectively shut us down it is less likely that heavy drinkers and nicotine addicts turn to psychedelics, other than to heal from substance abuse. To stay in their own energy they will rather go to amphetamines, opiates and prescription medications.

This is of course why the concept of gateway drugs often implodes, because the people who most fiercely adopt the theory are often unwilling to link it to legal substances which are much more common gateway drugs than cannabis has ever been.

Light and heavy drugs

It should be noted when talking about the gateway from light to heavy drugs that alcohol is a heavy drug. Since alcohol is legal we often think of it as light, if we think of it as a drug at all. But the fact of the matter is that alcohol is one of the heaviest drugs out there, in many ways comparable to heroin. Nicotine is likewise a much heavier drug than we give it credit for. It has an extreme addictive potential, which is also comparable to heroin.

Gateway experiences

The metaphor of the gateway can be valid, but I don’t feel that it is correctly applied. It isn’t the drug which is the gateway – it is the user’s history.

Who becomes an addict? Who faces issues of substance abuse?

There are root causes to these things. People who are traumatized, who have been bullied or neglected, people who have been abused, used and hurt. People who have never felt loved, who have low self-esteem, who have a history of mental illness. These are the people who stand the greatest chance of ending up in addiction and substance abuse.

It didn’t start with the drug. It started long before with the person being mistreated and the following drug use, if it is destructive, is mainly self-medication or a try to flee from the situation. With that understanding a “gateway experience theory” would be much more true, since it shows what really opened up the door in the first place.

This is however quite provocative for many, because that gives an explanation that focuses in on all the things that have hurt that person in the first place. That opens up the understanding that other people have traumatized the person, which is very uncomfortable for many to own up to. It is often easier to focus on the person with a drug problem, rather than the many ways that primary others and society as a whole has traumatized that person.

Gateway people

So let’s follow that line of reasoning. Who are the “gateway people”?

Some would have you think that the gateway people are others. They are the bad company that the person just happened to run into, or such. That is seldom true. The most common gateway people are our parents and other significant others. Addiction is often passed on to one’s children and that addiction can look very different in the parent compared to the child. The parent might be a work-o-holic or sex-o-holic, while the child might become an alcoholic or drug user.

But we don’t only pass on our addictions. We pass on our insecurities, emotional blocks and instabilities, our frustrations and angers. All of these are what people later go on to abuse drugs to avoid facing.

As you can imagine this is also problematic if you as a parent are looking for someone else to blame. In that case it is so much simpler to focus on the one thing that it doesn’t look as if you have anything to do with – THE DRUG.

The gateway reexamined

The gateway is a good metaphor, but applying it only to a drug misses the point by a mile. One major problem to the “gateway drug theory” is that it has the word “drug” in there. So many other factors are more important than which plant or substance one uses first. Gateway experiences and people are much more important.

The metaphor also misses the point because it is linear; you are in one room and then simply cross over into another. Addiction and substance abuse is seldom that easy. B doesn’t always follow A, because it gets mixed up with C, gets triggered by H and also leads to X. Thinking that there is a direct link between, for example, smoking cannabis and later on shooting heroin, is so overly simplified that it becomes nonsense. Unfortunately many people can’t make sense of all this, so they are easily seduced by simple nonsense, but it is nonsense none the less.

Another drawback to the gateway drug reasoning is that the metaphor has us looking away from where the problems are being created. If we let ourselves confront the actual problems we would be obligated to solve them, which is hard for individuals and society alike. So we keep avoiding the actual problem and keep pointing fingers away from ourselves. Seeing the drug as the gateway is just another way of laying blame outside ourselves, when the true solution lies within.

Photo: Gateway by Georgie Pauwels on Flickr

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Naysha: Marihuana and spirituality

Cannabis is a hot subject that people often ask my opinion on. Every plant in nature has a purpose. I try to never make statements about which plants are good or bad, because plants just are.

When working with people that smoke marihuana very often I can note a grey cloud similar to that of a person that chain smokes. It is over and around the head. This is one of the reasons why some healers don’t like too much marihuana.

Why does too much marihuana cause these kinds of blocks?
Well, by smoking it the energy itself doesn’t really have the strength necessary to detox the body. In others words one seldom vomits with marihuana. Therefore the energies that need to be released accumulate in the head chakra, since that is where the marihuana is most active.

Is it possible to develop higher consciousness with this plant?
I have met the spirit a few times and once I managed to reach the center of it. What I saw was that the spirit of this plant helps us to get in touch with the information and knowledge that we have already achieved in our lives, but it won’t give us anything new.

smoking2This explains why some people start to take drugs – they are looking for knowledge. But sooner or later these people have reached all they have inside and their hunger for knowledge will drive them to find more with other substances or in other ways. Sadly in our society’s way of thinking there is not much difference between drugs and plants, so people can easily get confused in their search.

You can also understand why some people like artist and writers like this plant, since it helps them to easily access their own information. But if they for example would start doing diets, their abilities would increase and develop much more, in the same way as it would if they worked with such plants like Ayahuasca and San Pedro.

What about healing properties?
Marihuana can heal certain kinds of diseases, but we must be aware that not all diseases can be healed with this plant. In some cases marihuana only covers the symptoms, which is exactly what many normal medicines do.

So in conclusion – marihuana helps you access information that you already have. It helps break down the filters of the normal state of mind. That is why you feel relaxed, but it won’t help you to develop a higher consciousness. Also remember that this plant helps with pain, but doesn’t heal the pain. It only covers the symptoms that are causing the pain. If you for example have emotional problems the marihuana might cover the problems, but it won’t heal them in the way that for example ayahuasca does. At some point you will have to stop covering things up and start facing them.

Naysha Silva Romero

Photo: Vancouver Global Marijuana March 2015 – by Danny Kresnyak by Cannabis Culture on Flickr

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Hallucinogens to heal emotional instability

Hello Daniel,

I’m a 25 year old student of anthropology, sociology and psychology. School is working out well, I take relatively good care of my health and keep the house relatively clean. I am also one of the broken souls that never feels really good. I suspect that I suffer from some emotional disturbance, because I have high peaks where I think I’m better than everyone else, and then I fall into a black hole where I find it very difficult to function normally. Right now I’m in one of those holes, and have been for approximately 4 months (with some bright days/hours). I have previously used antidepressant tablets on a daily basis to stabilize my mood and make life easier, but I stopped because it felt as if I lost a part of myself. And I wasn’t actually rid of my anxiety. I was just somewhat better at dealing with it when it arrived and my panic attacks were less turbulent. Now things are so bad that I am strongly considering going back to them. I have suicidal thoughts and isolate myself completely without external reasons. I absolutely don’t want to die, but I feel weak by the mere thought of life just continuing like this.

I have seen some documentaries and read a lot about how hallucinogens affect our brains and that there is reason to believe that it changes the way we think about the world in the same way as religious experiences might change people’s lives. I have tried it myself a few times, though in recreational context, and last year when I tried truffles I got an incredibly wonderful feeling of my actual place in the world which persisted for several weeks. Then after a while the negative thoughts came back again and with them doubts that these drugs actually help – maybe they just take me farther away from “reality”.

Now I have thought again, and you confirmed what I thought of. Maybe I’ll try to actually medicate myself and give it more than just once. Just the thought that perhaps it can help me stay of the antidepressants makes the world feel a little brighter. Do you think it can help with emotional instability, in the same way as it helps against depression? And if so, which kind of dose would be best?

Thanks in advance!

Sincerely
Ann

● ● ●

Hi Ann,

thank you for an interesting email that raises many thoughts. As you can probably understand, I would have to have a private session with you to be able to give you specific personal advice, but I can discuss some of the issues you raise in a broad sense.

Since you mention suicide, I would like to start off by saying a few words on the subject. I had a friend who chose to commit suicide and several years later I managed to get in touch with him in spirit. He said that there are lives when one needs to experience suicide, but pointed out that it isn’t a choice like any else. If one ends one’s life without having finished one’s life lessons/challenges, you will need to do it all over again in the next life. To kill oneself to avoid a challenge is thus counterproductive, because you will need to redo the whole thing and will suffer in the same way for yet another life. With that in mind, I would like to say like my friend – dare to live.

With that said, let’s move on to your main question of whether hallucinogens can be good tools for working with your mood, and if so, how.

Hallucinogens are excellent tools for aiding in healing depression, emotional instability and such conditions. I have myself healed from severe depression with LSD and have seen many others do the same with mushrooms, San Pedro, Ayahuasca, and even Cannabis. I would however not recommend Cannabis initially, because it is the only one of the plants and substances that I have listed that I perceive has an actual addictive potential, and at the same time it is not as potent as the other plants/substances.

There are plenty of stories of miraculous healing with these plants and substances, but I want to discourage you from approaching them as some kind of quick fix. Sure, you might fix your emotional instability with a single trip, but it is much more likely that you need to put a lot of work into healing yourself. The plant or substance in that context is only a tool. You will need to do the work to heal yourself, so be prepared for that.

What to do first?

Without knowing much about your specific problems I would probably first advise you to clean out your life. Your mood originates from somewhere; possibly from old wounds and relationships. If there is too much other clutter, you will need to spend a lot of time cleaning it all out of the way, instead of diving into the core of things. Therefore, you should get rid of as much clutter as possible in advance, in your everyday life.

First off – promise yourself to recover and to do whatever you need to do so. Then examine your life and remove everything that is not favorable to you. They might include things, relationships, ways of seeing reality, and more. Remove anything that does not benefit you. There are certain things that you should really get rid of completely, because they disrupt your energy structure: alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, drugs (here I do not count hallucinogens) and sex where you do not respect yourself. The first two are particularly important, as they clog the body’s energy structure and are in their very essence self-destructive.

Once you’ve done that, I would consider that you are ready to begin working with hallucinogens for healing.

How do I work with hallucinogens?

Once again I feel I should point out that you would need to book a private session with me for proper counseling. The answers I can give you here are general.

There are two questions that I think would be good for you to ask yourself initially:
1. Do I need a shaman/therapist/guide?
2. What plant or substance should I work with?

Based on what you have written, I think it would be wise for you to work with a shaman/therapist who not only knows hallucinogens, but who also understand the kind of mental states that you are struggling with. Someone like me could help with such things as:
● To help you prepare for your trip/trips
● To maintain a safe and secure place for you to meet and work with yourself
● During the trip to do things like clearing away blockages, parasitic energies, conveying messages from spirit helpers or channeling healing energy
● During and after the trip to be your mirror and discussion partner
● After the trip to help you structure your continued work and help you maintain your focus

Some people can do all this themselves, because they have an innate ability to work with their own development, but I feel that far from all can do so. Many instead risk going wrong, getting trapped, or even being frightened by the experience and taking several steps backwards. If you feel with you that you cannot do this by yourself, I would advise you to work with someone who can support you. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a shaman or therapist, but could also be a friend who has the knowledge and the abilities that I have described.

Plant/substance and dose

It is impossible for me to say in advance what kind of dose you should have. I always double check what dose a client should have before a session. Usually I do so with tarot cards, but I also use my common sense. I generally prefer high doses, because it will lower your defenses and allow to quickly go in depth with the actual problem. But what is an average dose for one person can be a high dose of another, so you need to determine the dose on an individual basis.

Which plant or substance is most appropriate in your case is in the same way hard for me to speculate. That is also something I would check in advance. Usually I find that it is clear which plant, substance and even who you should work with, because they tend to appear when you are ready. If you need LSD, LSD will come knocking at your door and if you are meant to work with a specific shaman/therapist, your attention will be directed to them.

Set reasonable expectations

Hallucinogens are surrounded by an almost magical aura. I have seen many miraculous events on hallucinogens, but to expect a miracle is not reasonable. If you are supposed to have a miracle, it will come to you, but it’s much more likely that you need to work devotedly to recover. Get ready to do so.

It is reasonable to expect that you will devote considerable attention to this for at least a year and during that time you might need to take several trips. Periodically you may even have to trip quite often. But tripping is not the thing. The trip shakes things up and loosens things, but it is between trips, in your sober state, that you will need to work actively to translate the insights that you got into your normal life.

For example, if you come to realize that you are making yourself ill through the relationships you have, with what you eat or how you behave, you will need to sort those things out. Although it can happen, it is not a reasonable expectation that the hallucinogens will collect all that is bothering you and remove it. You will need to do that work.

Photo: Bang-bang by Yuliya Libkina on Flickr

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Nine tips for mushroom rituals

∙ Set a clear intention. Be clear about your intentions and consecrate the ritual, preferably to Mother Earth.
∙ Be clean. Wash before your contact with higher realities.
∙ Feel nice. Dress in clothes that you like, that you feel pretty, handsome and confident in.

∙ Be a little tired. The mind has a way of trying to hold on to and continue categorizing things. By being a little tired the mind has less chance to do so and it will be easier to reach other realities.
∙ Do not eat before. The stomach takes up the mushroom. If you have eaten heavily before the ritual, the stomach will be working to take care of the food. Do not eat four hours before. A little water and fruit is ok.
∙ Relax. Follow the flow. Do not resist. Meditation is recommended, especially in initial stage of the journey.

∙ Dance and sing. These are powerful tools for processing, reinforcing and spreading emotions. The music that you create yourself in that moment is the strongest. You can also use mantras, if you feel comfortable with them.
∙ Don’t mix. Treat the mushroom with respect. Mixing the mushroom with dirty substances such as alcohol, nicotine or amphetamine is not respectful.
∙ The place. Some locations, such as power spots, are particularly suited for rituals. Choose the location carefully.

Photo: Homage to Luna by John Tracy on Flickr

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The most addictive drug I have ever tried

Snus is a typical Swedish tobacco product; pouches filled with tobacco that you put under your lip. Before I finally managed to break the habit I had a long series of relapses.

At one point a meditation brought me a clear vision that my front tooth was going to die if I do not immediately quit using it. Even though I knew the consequences, I could not stop. Indeed my front tooth died. That is how strong nicotine addiction is.

SnusdosorOn my last relapse I started collecting the cans they come in. The picture above shows some of the cans I used on that last relapse, before I finally managed to free myself. To be free, for me, means never to touch it again.

My experience is that nicotine is an incredibly addictive and destructive poison. An overwhelming majority of those who use nicotine are fully addicted, just as anyone who would use heroin, alcohol or amphetamines every day. Being without the poison more than a few hours is a challenge. Someone going cold turkey from nicotine is often fully comparable to someone doing the same from heavy narcotics.

The positive effects of nicotine are basically none.

Nicotine harms and kills more than all other drugs combined. Nevertheless, we imagine that it is less dangerous, because it is legal. Something is seriously wrong here. In our society, the most dangerous, most addictive drugs with the least positive effects are legal.

Now why do you think that is?

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The difference between sober and cured

There is a big difference between being sober from an addiction, and being cured of it.

Being sober is just being abstinent. I’m sober from nicotine, but I am sober by pure willpower. If I were to let the poison back into my life again, it would take control. The only way for me to keep clean is by total abstinence, which at times has been a struggle.

To be cured is to be free of substance. I’m cured of my alcohol addiction. It is no effort and I have no cravings. I don’t get the least tempted by having it around me.

Therein lies the difference.

Photo: against alcohol by Åsmund Gravem on Flickr

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Addicts see addicts

Having been an alcoholic, I can spot an alcoholic a hundred meters away. Having abused nicotine heavily, I am very susceptible to see the inner panic in someone that hasn’t gotten their fix. Having been a sex addict, I pick up on the details that give away the addiction.

Someone who has worked through the addiction knows the tell tale signs, knows what little behaviors and oddities that signal that something is out of harmony. Someone that has abused amphetamines, will recognize the way of moving. Someone who has cut themselves, will know the look in the eye of someone who still does.

A former alcoholic that meets someone with an opiate addition will likely feel that something is out of harmony, but won’t necessarily be able to pin point what. Having had several addictions has made me very sensitive to addictive behavior, but I still fall short when it comes to other substances than the ones I have used.

Addicts tend to avoid people who have gone sober. One reason for that is that the addict doesn’t want to be seen, and will therefore consciously or unconsciously avoid people that can see their addiction. At least while abusing. When they are ready to break free, they often find someone who can see them.

Photo: relaxing after work_MMVI by D. Sinclair Terrasidius on Flickr

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What is dangerous?

This is a second answer concerning a question about my blog post about how dangerous different substances actually are.

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.

Portrait #119 - PérineMallory - Friendly smoking - by Valentin Ottone on Flickr
Portrait #119 – PérineMallory – Friendly smoking – by Valentin Ottone on Flickr

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.

belaDano+drugs by Daniel Depix on Flickr
belaDano+drugs by Daniel Depix on Flickr

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.

No Sex No Drugs No Rock & Roll Toilet Graffiti by GanMed64 on Flickr
No Sex No Drugs No Rock & Roll Toilet Graffiti by GanMed64 on Flickr

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?

Ourense 15012010 by Foxspain Fotografía on Flickr
Ourense 15012010 by Foxspain Fotografía on Flickr

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.

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