Tag Archives: PTSD

Why psychedelics are illegal

Many people crudely think that all illegal drugs are illegal because they are physically dangerous to the user. That is not the case. Different substances have been made illegal at different times and for different reasons.

Some substances are rightly illegal because they are physically dangerous. Heroin, crack and GHB are examples of dangerous substances that pose a very real risk to the user. Ironically though the two most dangerous drugs – alcohol and tobacco – are not illegal.

Other substances are however illegal for very different reasons. Two reasons are very prominent: because they are perceived as dangerous to the status quo and to target and persecute specific groups.

Just the other day I was asked why psychedelics are illegal. They are obviously extremely useful medicines and also very safe when used correctly. Well, there are several reasons for them being illegal and most of them have nothing to do with health, but let us begin with the health issue.

Psychedelics are commonly non-toxic and pose no physical threat even at extreme doses. Most of these substances are not even possible to overdose to the degree that they would be life threatening. But there is one real health risk and that is to the user’s mental health. Psychedelics have the unique capacity of unlocking the doors of the unconscious mind. They can release what has been carefully locked away and repressed. This is of course what makes them such powerful therapeutic tools, but if the person isn’t open to taking care of what comes up the experience can be quite traumatic. The same goes for other kinds of therapy, meditation and contemplation. If you aren’t ready to meet what you have repressed you shouldn’t do or take anything that will uncover what you have buried.

nixon_militaryBut besides this, what were the perceived dangers that made psychedelics illegal? To grasp this one must look at the historical setting. Where did the push to criminalize come from and what is the backdrop? To understand this we need to go back to the USA in the mid 1960’s. Government at all levels were in a cold war state of mind trying to root out possible dissidents within. The Vietnam war had dragged on for ten years, US involvement was sharply rising, as was the death toll. It was a time for hardliners and hawks. JFK had been murdered and the much less diplomatic Lyndon B Johnson took his place. He was then followed by one of the fathers of the War on Drugs – Richard Nixon.

At the same time a very vocal and at times even revolutionary opposition was forming at home. There were many different movements with many different objectives, but when talking about psychedelics the hippies are of course at the focal point. What were they up to? They protested, burnt draft cards, let their hair grow, dressed strangely and promoted free sex, just to name a few things. In the eyes of a person like Nixon, and there were many like him at the time, they were trouble makers who were upsetting the status quo. They were anti-establishment peacemongerers and as such perceived as threatening by the establishment.

At the very core of that opposition was the experimentation with drugs and the one that has forever been associated with the hippie movement is of course the psychedelic LSD. So what was it about LSD that sparked this opposition and backlash towards the establishment? I think the ethnobotanist psychonaut Terence McKenna was spot on when he said that “they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”

Photo: DaveHippie by studio muscle on Flickr
Photo: DaveHippie by studio muscle on Flickr

What LSD did was to awaken people from their cultural programming and indoctrination and let them see the world with other eyes. When they did so they could not accept what they had been taught, so they rebelled. They rebelled against violence, militarism and domination and instead sought “peace, love and understanding”.

On a side note both the CIA the American military had experimented heavily with LSD before it found its way to the hippies. One notable side effect was that quite a few soldiers that had been given it laid down their guns and refused to pick them up again.

For a person like Nixon this was all extremely threatening. To him America was losing its youth to a drug culture that was in direct opposition to the establishment. And he certainly had a point. If you want people to follow orders, be aggressive towards one another, go to war and kill people you will not want to give them LSD, because they will start thinking for themselves, refuse to follow orders and will refuse violence.

LSD was not made illegal because it is physically harmful to the person taking it. It was made illegal because it makes people question authority and social injustices and prompts them to do something about it. LSD and psychedelics threatened and still threatens the fabric of domination culture by showing people that another world is possible.

While many believe that our drug laws are there to protect us we have in fact inherited most of them from a time when domination culture was scared of losing control. Our drug laws are in many cases in place to hinder mind expansion and rebellion against the violent domination culture and the status quo, and most certainly so when it comes to psychedelics.

This is a pattern of dominance which is repeating itself.

Today the political establishment are the ones oppressing and persecuting the users of psychedelics. Yesterday it was the church. The brutal persecution of witches, witchdoctors, healers, shamans and anyone seeking other modalities of healing or other ways of reaching the divine was the church’s version of the War on Drugs. The vocabulary surrounding it all was different but still quite similar. Instead of safety and health concerns the church would talk about being in contact with or possessed by the devil or evil spirits.

Witch BurningWhile they might well have believed their own story, just as many do with the story of domineering culture of today, it was ultimately based in a fear of losing control over people. As many, perhaps even most, who work with psychedelics will attest to, psychedelics are often a door to the divine. They break down the limitations of our cultural programming. When it comes to the church there has often been an idea that certain people should act as intermediaries for the rest of us, thus the control over the contact with the divine and the divine will has been hijacked by priests and such. What psychedelics often do in that case is give the user his/her own personal contact with the divine, making the intermediary superfluous. For someone who wants to maintain control over other people this is of course extremely threatening and also provocative to the point where the church would be willing to kill people.

One needs to remember that the greatest threat to the church is that each and every one of us would be able to have our own contact with the divine. If we did have that contact the church would soon be redundant, at least as an interpreter of God’s will,  so it lies in the interest of the individual career makers within and also in the organisations themselves to see to it that people do not have their own contact with the divine.

And that is of course the pattern of domineering that is repeating itself today. A lot of people, organisations and companies stand to lose a lot of money and power when psychedelics are let free. It is in their interest to keep them illegal. If you could solve addiction, PTSD, depression and such with one or a few psychedelic trips the medical and pharmaceutical industry would take a huge dive. If people would stop tolerating violence that would mean the end of the military and the industries that profit from war. If each and every one would be given the tools for connecting with the divine themselves the world religions would lose their strangle hold on the minds of people.

It is in the interest of anyone who wants to dominate someone else that psychedelics are kept illegal and are continually persecuted.

That is why psychedelics are illegal.

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Stories of illegal healing

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.

He became one with the universe …

LSD

My own story where I solve a 13-year long alcohol addiction on my first dose of LSD…
http://wilby.nu/my-first-lsd-trip/

The famous philosopher and writer Alan Watts about his encounter with LSD and what he could not deny was a true spiritual experience…

Deepak Chopra’s first spiritual experience was with LSD…

MDMA

As an adult Rachel Hope solves intractable PTSD that she has had since she was sexually abused as a young child…

Bob Walker solves 50-year old intractable war trauma with MDMA…

Cannabis

After receiving a joint from her son Belinda Hethcox treats fibromyalgia with cannabis…

David suffers from Parkinson’s, but has a decent life and is able to feel pride thanks to cannabis.

Autistic Alex injured himself seriously but was helped by cannabis.

● ● ●

If you have any favourite stories, please feel welcome to post the links in the comment section.

Photo: Don’t cry my love by Axel Naud on Flickr

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A better tomorrow with drugs

Today’s repressive drug laws are at a dead end. The war on drugs harms society and citizens in a multitude of ways, of which I listed some in yesterdays blog post. Ironically it also prevents effective treatments for such things as addiction. But where can we go from here? Let’s imagine that all substances are legal. How can we organize the community to limit the damage and help addicts?

Legalizing all drugs would of course not mean that you could buy them next to the sweets at your local supermarket. And everything doesn’t just fall into place because they come under government control. There would probably need to be a combination of solutions, some of which already exist and others that don’t. Here are some possible parts to such a system.

State control.

hug me by jo marshall on Flickr
hug me by jo marshall on Flickr

In the current situation the entire drug trade is a black economy that is largely controlled by criminal organizations. If all substances were legalized they would become part of the regular economy, where it becomes possible to set up rules for manufacturing and quality control products. The substances would be provided with a table of content, just like any other commodity. The goods may additionally be provided with other labels, such as organic and fair trade.

Those working in the trade would have the same rights as other workers, would have the support of existing labor laws, would have the right to organize themselves into unions and would become tax payers.

Sales could take place within established models, such as the state control (pharmacies/tobacco sales) or as a state monopoly (in Sweden all alcohol is sold by the state run Systembolaget). Age limits could be imposed on substances and they could also be differentiated, so that one would have to be older to purchase some of the more potent compounds.

Taxing substances.

When drugs come under government control it is possible to steer people away from more harmful substances by levying heavier taxes on them. It’s would be easy to see which substances are economically costly for society and adjust the taxes accordingly.

Possibility to withdraw the right to use certain substances.

People should be able to lose their right to use certain substances if they commit crimes or harm themselves or others when they use them. I think it is strange that those who repeatedly get into fights drunk, drive intoxicated or get wasted on the verge of dying, still have the right to buy as much liquor as they can pay for.

When one shows that they aren’t able to handle a certain substance, it should be possible to revoke that person’s right to do so, in the same manner that one can lose ones driving license or license to practice medicine.

The possibility to exclude oneself from certain substances.

40+30 Tutorial by bark on Flickr
40+30 Tutorial by bark on Flickr

Many people are very aware of which substances they should not take. For example I know many who say they have no problem drinking beer, but go berserk if they drink hard liquor. It’s the same with all substances. What is pure bliss for one, can be hell for another. What one is able to take a couple of times a year without developing a craving for, another becomes addicted to after just a few doses.

But then again, many people know perfectly well what substances are dangerous for them. It could be made easy for them to take responsibility with the choice to voluntarily waive the right to use certain substances. They could also be able to set limits for themselves, by specifying how much of a substance they may purchase during a certain time period.

Many addicts will arrive at the point where they want to break free from their habit. During a certain period the window of change is open. The problem is often that they relapse because the substance will continue to be available to them. If they can exclude themselves from the right to buy certain substances, such as if an alcoholic does not allow him/herself to buy liquor, it would effectively help in the recovery process.

Licenses to handle certain substances.

With some particularly heavy drugs such as heroin, it would be possible to introduce a license allowing an educated person to handle the substance. For most substances it would probably be enough with basic education in school and a little everyday common sense, but with substances that carry serious consequences, it is important to be sure that those who use them have proper knowledge about risks and safety. The education for such a license may contain things like responsible management, how to use in a safe manner to prevent spread of infection, and how to deal with accidental overdoses. Such a license may be revoked if the person is irresponsible and for example sells substances to other people or uses them in an unsafe manner.

● ● ●

In addition to the distribution itself – what can we do to get control of the situation regarding different substances?

Universal education in dealing with drugs and addiction.

I often wonder how drug education in schools can be allowed to be so absolutely worthless. The “education” is basically designed solely to scare people not to try anything. As a teenager I was an exchange student in the United States and the school that I went to worked in exactly the same way when it came to sex education. There was no information about STDs, contraception or sex. The whole message was only “you should not have sex until you get married”, and it was really crammed down the teenagers throats. It is a dangerous kind of indoctrination that creates ignorant and bigoted citizens, while increasing the actual risks.

Instead we should have a proper drug education, which includes such themes as:
∙ What is an altered state of mind and how you can you work with it?
∙ How to use drugs safely.
∙ What to do if you or someone else feels bad under the influence.
∙ How to manage an overdose.
∙ How to identify and get rid of substance abuse.

Use tax revenues for addiction treatment and prevention.

Libby hugging Tomoko by Loren Kerns on Flickr
Libby hugging Tomoko by Loren Kerns on Flickr

A legalization would generate tax revenue that I think primarily should go to addiction treatment and prevention. Even more money is now being spent on hunting, harassing and punishing people.

If we add a substantial part of those resources to create good addiction treatment, we will soon have the best addiction treatment the world has ever seen. Health care should be accessible and able to quickly help addicts who express a desire to receive care. Addiction is a disease and addicts should be treated as patients, not criminals.

There will always be addicts, but it is my firm belief that the addiction is to be found in the person – not in substance. People flee into abuse because they are fleeing from themselves, from the traumas they try to forget or from situations that are unbearable. Good prevention work builds on this understanding and aims to help people face themselves, help them process past trauma and to make their lives bearable. It helps them to stop fleeing and encourages them to take responsibility for their own lives. Much of today’s preventive work lacks this basic understanding.

Make substances available for scientific research, therapists, health care workers and healers.

There are many substances that are currently incorrectly classified as drugs with no medical value. This applies above all to psychedelics that are proven to be extremely effective in curing such things as addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress, empathy disorders and death anxiety. There are lots of stories about absolutely miraculous healing taking place with these substances, and they are at the same time very safe when used correctly.

Another substance that is being discussed greatly right now is cannabis and not only in its mind-altering form, but also as tinctures without the mind-altering properties. It is used with good results for such things as chronic pain, fibromyalgia, depression and end of life care. There seems to be some evidence that it also has cancer fighting properties.

These substances need to be made available to those who need the help and for the professionals who are working on this – from therapists, to regular health care workers, and also in alternative treatments. Today there are plenty of alternative therapists and traditional healers such as shamans, who have the knowledge and who have been passing it on for thousands of years. Here are exciting cross over’s to be made, when traditional methods of healing meet western medicine. Such work is already taking place. To fully take advantage of this scientific research needs to get started as soon as possible.

Making up for abuse committed by the state.

While the intention has probably been good, many people have been abused and badly treated under the current legislation. The current drug laws have stigmatized people, forced them into alienation, punished them, led people into a criminal lifestyle, actively withheld health care for sick addicts and has also led to many unnecessary deaths.

There is a need for redress and reconciliation. The very least the government should do is to apologize for the abuse that occurred under the current legislation.

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This blog post has been inspired by, among other things:
∙ A challenge from a friend who is a politician to show how legalization could work.
∙ The TEDx talk by James Leitzel that does just that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_Px4nYbJoQ
∙ Organisations and initiatives such as Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (http://www.maps.org/) and Transform (http://www.tdpf.org.uk/).

Main photo: Love by Nicola Romagna on Flickr

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The gift of healing

I was lying on the floor with my feet in an armchair as I began to land after the mushroom trip. Suddenly my right leg started twitching. It had been easy for me to make it stop by changing my position, but I got the feeling that I should investigate it instead. So I followed my intuition and let the twitching continue.

It grew in power and I soon noticed that it wasn’t coming from my leg, but rather originated in my pelvis. Soon I was shaking so hard that I had to move my legs out of the chair and onto the floor. I shook and when I dove into the shaking memories began to emerge.
– Please sit next to me, I asked my partner. I need to tell you what is coming up. It is quite fast.

– I’m at primary school and I’m running. I’m afraid. Some boys in the fifth grade are right behind me and they are going to beat me up.
The shaking shifted in character, just as the stories.
– I am 15 and I am masturbating compulsively.
Shift.
– They’re going to beat me up. I’m afraid.
I lay there for more than an hour while the intense shaking unlocked repressed memories of times when I was afraid. Afterwards I was completely exhausted, but it felt good to have done it. Many things loosened and I felt lighter.

● ● ●

A few days later I was talking with a friend.
– I have been to a shaking course in Stockholm, he told me.
– Really? What was that like, I asked with interest.
Then he told of the exact same technique that I had practiced in my living room. The theory behind it is this: every time you get scared or frightened, your muscles tense. These constant muscle contractions create tension in the body which we never fully release and they mainly settle in the pelvis. Imagine a dog that is frightened. It pulls its tail in between its legs. Humans have the same reaction. What the technique does is to release tension and relieve the person from the emotional luggage and the fears that have been stored away, which of course also leads to one becoming less controlled by old fears.

– But it is important not to do more than 15 minutes at a time, he then said.
I giggled a little to myself, because it’s so typical of me to go all in when I find a new technique.
– What about the memories? How did you work with them, I asked.
– The memories? What do you mean?
– The memories that are associated with each event. Each event is specific and carries with it a specific memory and a specific shaking.
– They said nothing about. We just shook.

● ● ●

As the inquisitive person I am, I took to the web. I soon found Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) developed by David Berceli, PhD, who is an international expert in trauma healing and conflict resolution. The technique he described was identical to the one I have been given. It has been used in disasters around the world, from Utöya in Norway to the ghettos of Cape Town, and is used with good success also for stress and treatment of PTSD.

● ● ●

This is often the case, I’ve noticed. When I have done a good deed for the spirit world – when I have healed a place, helped a spirit pass on or done something good for nature – then I am given a gift, often in the form of healing techniques. This is particularly evident when working with psychedelics. The mushroom does not only deliver insights. It is a plant teacher in its fullest sense. When I am worthy, it teaches me things and gives me gifts.

Thank you for this technique.

Photo: Standing over the clouds by Ewen Roberts on Flickr

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykyhHTjz-uQ[:]

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Alexander Shulgin and the story of MDMA

The Shulgins and their Alchemical Angels - artwork by Alex Grey, www.alexgrey.com
The Shulgins and their Alchemical Angels – artwork by Alex Grey, www.alexgrey.com

– 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.

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