Studying psychedelics has been largely illegal for the last 50 years so we have few scientific studies but tons of personal healing stories. John Hopkins has released studies showing that magic mushrooms (psilocybin) can be healing for anxiety, depression, addiction, and PTSD. MDMA is in Phase 3 clinical trials to be re-introduced as a therapeutic drug. MDMA was used for marriage counseling until 1985, when the US government listed it as a Schedule 1 drug with no therapeutic benefit.
Here’s the most basic way I understand how psychedelic healing takes place:
Disease is a result of dis-ease in my life. Something out of alignment, something stuck that needs to be cleared away, something caused by over consuming, or something caused by lack of care/love/attention.
Psychedelics allow me to release my story and get curious with the energy underneath the story. If I haven’t been listening to my body or my soul, they tend to get louder on psychedelics. This helps me locate what’s stuck energetically/what thoughts I’m looping.
As I witness what’s actually present, I can release it. I can change my mind. I can forgive myself and others. I can remember what’s it’s like to be in total joy. I can focus healing attention on any part of myself. I can set intentions for taking excellent care of myself.
Often an accident or an illness is an opportunity to realize where I haven’t been taking care of myself and make changes. For example, I endured bouts of depression for all of my 20s and 30s. I used psychedelics to rewire how I was relating to my myself, intimate relationships and lost fear of dying that allowed me to experience life to its fullest.
In this way, psychedelics don’t directly heal anything, but they support you in making healing choices and creating healing thoughts (which can heal anything). After I burned out as an anxiety ridden workaholic founder, I chose a by-monthly weekend off with psilocybin to heal. There was nothing specifically healing about psilocybin except that it supported me in healing my own mind and body.
Psychedelic self-treatment outcomes
As researchers are amassing data on psychedelics through clinical trials, many thousands of people are using psychedelics on their own, sometimes to treat mental health conditions. In a new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, a group of researchers from the UK, the Netherlands, and Australia investigate how people self-medicate using psilocybin mushrooms and LSD.
In their study, the researchers analyzed data from the Global Drug Survey 2020, an online survey of over 3,000 people about their drug use, which was conducted between November 2019 and February 2020. Respondents said they used psilocybin mushrooms and LSD to treat a variety of issues: around 40 percent used the drugs to treat their depression and 20 percent said their use was to manage anxiety. Smaller numbers of people reported using the drugs to treat conditions like PTSD, OCD, or an eating disorder. Nineteen reported taking the drugs to manage psychosis.
The survey asked respondents to rate whether their self-administered treatment led to changes in 17 different aspects of their lives, including changes in mood, empathy, anxiety, and sleep. The vast majority of respondents (94.6 percent) said that their self-administered treatment changed at least one of those domains. Sixty-four percent said that they noticed positive changes within 24 hours of their experience. The effects seemed to endure, too; more than half of respondents said positive effects lingered for about a month after their experience, and 17.6 percent reported that those positive effects lasted for over 6 months. Around a fifth of respondents reported negative effects from the drugs as well, with over 500 people saying they’d experienced “mental confusion, memory problems, or racing thoughts.” Twenty-eight respondents said they sought emergency treatment after administering self-treatment.
“Persisting negative outcomes were relatively uncommon but appear more frequent than in clinical settings,” the researchers conclude. “Our findings can contribute to harm reduction efforts, as well as inform experimental research about potential risks, benefits and underlying therapeutic mechanisms of psychedelics.”