Psyched on Psychedelics

Since Huffington Post is highlighting an article about “some of the coolest things scientists have discovered about psychedelics,” that was written over a year ago (originally at Alternet.org), we can safely say it’s not too late to chime in. I appreciate the scholarly quotes, official data and scientific study. Here I’ll (attempt) to describe, mostly from personal experience, how consuming these substances can be life-changing and mind-altering, for the long term. For the best.

Sunset PDX

LSD

Haven’t done enough acid to pontificate much on the subject. Both times I tried, there were unexpected results, which led me to conclude the samples were either bunk, or not acid in the first place.

It’s worth noting (for those who haven’t seen the article cited above): “Swiss psychiatrist Peter Gasser and his colleagues conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, sponsored by the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). They tracked people who were near the end of life as they attended LSD-assisted psychotherapy sessions. Gasser concluded that the study subjects’ anxiety ‘went down and stayed down.'”

Shrooms

Psilocybin (the key ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms) is my favorite psychedelic. It’s Earthy, calm and you’re likely to gain a feeling of omnipresence… I’ve done shrooms about ten times over the years, starting when I was 16, when someone gave me a handful of the dried fungus at school. Just couldn’t wait to eat it! Here’s an excerpt from my book, describing the experience:

Took mushies for my first time, at school. The Health teacher expressed grave concern, as I began tripping in class.

“You sure you’re okay, Audrey?”

Excused myself to roam the halls. My school was hosting a track meet that day, well under way when I was peaking. Only a little awkward when I ran into Ing-Marie (who’d been my best friend in 4th and 5th grade). She was there with her team from Grant. During middle school, she’d matured into a perfectly straight-edge square.

Called Mom to pick me up. This is when I learned one of the tricky side-effects of shrooms: the inability to lie.

She asked, “Audrey, what is wrong with you?”

“Nothing’s wrong Mom. I ate some mushrooms.”

*

According to the article, “A study that examined brain scans of people under the influence of psilocybin found that it reduces activity in certain areas of the brain… [leading] to the drug’s effect on cognition and memory. Psychedelics, and psilocybin in particular, might be eliminating what could be called the extra “noise” in the brain.”

Makes sense! While what we perceive is enhanced colors and light, this may be due to the decreased signals that would otherwise be taking place on “the front burner” of our mind. On shrooms, if you look at an electronic screen, it will be difficult to see what’s displayed because you’re nearly blinded by the throbbing, pulsing, glowing electromagnetic rays. If you look in the mirror on shrooms, you might be scared, watching the blood as it flows beneath sheer skin.

I’ve long felt, the ability to see light and color on shrooms is super-charged because the brain is focusing energy on vision that would normally serve different, perhaps more superficial, functions. It has a way of neutralizing mental clutter. (I’ve wondered if this is how our keen-sighted cousins, birds of prey and felines see the world.)

My typical mushroom trip goes like this (but of course there are grand variations): We dress in clothes that are 100% comfortable. Once the shrooms kick in – signaled by an otherwise inexplicable bout of the yawns – we leave our electronics behind (because it’s useless when your eyes can’t focus on the pictures, numbers or words onscreen) and stroll up to Mt. Tabor Park. There we meander from viewpoint to viewpoint, to stare in awe at the spectacular view. There’s nothing like watching the twinkling city lights on shrooms.

There’s a simultaneous feeling of being connected and insignificant that brings a certain solace. You might call it divine, or find yourself knowing in a profound new way… what is God. This feeling of acceptance and understanding stays with you long after the primary (visual) effects have subsided. This is not a habit-forming drug. It may be years before there’s any desire to take mushrooms again.

Ecstacy

MDMA (the active ingredient in Ecstacy) is something I have plenty of personal experience with. During my college years, met a hippie who was getting his Masters in Organic Chemistry. I was his first weed hook up when he moved to Portland, but before long, he became mine. And he sold a lot more than grass. Sometimes he had mushroom chocolates. The biggest money maker was pure MDMA.

He started giving me grams of the stuff along with my weed… I was reluctant to become a dealer. But he knew my wealthy friends would be eager to take it off my hands. He was right. All sorts of sophisticated adults (doctors, lawyers and CEOs) were buying. There was more demand than I had time for. That routine lasted about a year… during which I ended up taking ecstasy several times a month.

Most intriguing from the studies mentioned above, “MDMA (aka ecstasy, or Molly) promotes release of the hormone oxytocin, which could help treat severe anxieties like PTSD and social anxiety resulting from autism… A 2009 study offers a plausible explanation for MDMA’s effectiveness treating PTSD. The double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of 15 healthy individuals confirmed that MDMA causes the brain to release oxytocin, which is the human hormone linked to feelings of love and compassion.”

It’s tough to argue against something with no adverse affects (except, potentially, doing something you’ll regret?) that helps a person experience love. Just make sure the people you try it with, are those whom you genuinely enjoy. And hope that you’ll still like them when you sober up tomorrow.

Ayahuasca

Missed a chance to participate in an Ayahuasca ceremony when I was in Ecuador, but a gal friend tried it a few months ago and reported some details. Overall she said, “It tells you what you need to know.”

She’d recently moved to Spain on a whim. She was doing a little soul searching, perhaps even attempting to escape… She was done with “rules” and the commonly-imposed expectations from society. She said she was through with people putting her in a box. After several weeks in Spain, she accepted an invite to have the Ayahuasca experience, led by a shaman. She didn’t have any hallucinations or visual effect, but heightened energy. (Something she seems to have already, in abundance!) What affected her most in the days that followed, was a dream where she received a powerful message that she should return to Portland, to be with her kids. So she came back home.

DMT

Last but not least! DMT: One day, almost a decade ago, a friend came over to show me his toolbox. In it he packed a wide array of drugs, synthetic as well as organic, in various vials, jars and baggies. Some I’d never heard of. That afternoon, he introduced me to the Businessman’s Lunch, aka DMT.

Although it’s “widely regarded as the most intense psychedelic experience attainable through the use of drugs,” this psychedelic trip is brief (unlike LSD or “shrooms” which both last several hours). You can take DMT and return to a state of supreme normalcy within an hour. My friend did his best to explain what I was about to experience.

“It’s like a roller-coaster.”

Shortly after taking my one and only hit, his description provided some necessary comfort, while I pondered if this was death. Adequate as words can get, I suppose. Because within thirty seconds of inhaling (a crumbly brown substance, smoked through a water-pipe) I was glad I was sitting down. I was slowly cresting the top of a peak and with an intense WHOOSH, I was plunging over the other side. It feels like your guts are twirling, when you’ve not even budged in the chair.

From a distance, heard my own voice say to my friend: “If I die, I’m gonna kill you.”

The sensation lasted for a solid 30-45 minutes (which makes you appear to be in a near-catatonic state) until, as if a switch was flipped, was suddenly back inside my body, clearheaded. Able to move my arms and legs again. Sober. I’ll take this moment to remind you: Thanks to the near complete detachment from the physical plane of reality, this activity should only be done with responsible supervision.

After some thought I’ve decided, it’s more like taking a round-trip through a wormhole… into another dimension… than riding a roller-coaster. (Sometimes words fail us.) I would do this again, but it’s not every day a mad scientist knocks on your door with his magic toolbox.

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One thought on “Psyched on Psychedelics

  1. Psilocybin is the best for introspective personal growth, I agree with McKenna on that. Natural psychedelics should be most recommended…

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