Psychedelic Drugs Change Outlook On Life As Much As Near-Death Experiences

Near-death experiences often change how someone views the world. In many cases, the person who “cheats death” ends up overcoming their fear of dying in the future. Now, a new study has found something that can mimic this life-altering experience — psychedelic drugs.

A team from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine compared the differences in people’s attitudes about death after a psychedelic drug experience versus a near-death experience not involving drugs. Overall, they analyzed survey data from 3,192 people who spoke with researchers after one of these events. Specifically, the study examined the attitudes of 933 people who had a near-death experience and 2,259 people who used psychedelic drugs to have a similar experience.

For interviews involving psychedelic drug experiences, the participants either used lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin (magic mushrooms), ayahuasca, or N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) to trigger their psychedelic episode.

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DC journos are taking shrooms for ‘performance-enhancing brain boost,’ report says

Many journalists in Washington, D.C. are taking small doses of psychedelic mushrooms to improve their performance, according to Politico.

A 2020 D.C. ballot initiative made enforcement of bans on the purchase and distribution of psychedelic mushrooms the lowest priority of law enforcement, making the substance “basically legal,” according to Politico. The substance is used recreationally in full doses as well as in smaller “microdoses,” which some believe can improve brain function.

“Microdosing mushrooms as a kind of performance-enhancing brain boost — already wildly popular among the California tech set — is now fairly common in Washington, especially in media circles,” the Politico article said.

Additionally, many journalists are “macrodosing,” or taking large quantities of mushrooms to experience a psychedelic trip, as well.

Some journalists questioned the author’s claim that microdosing was common is Washington media circles.

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The Long, Strange Relationship Between Psychedelics and Telepathy

In February of 1971, approximately 2,000 attendees at six Grateful Dead concerts at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York saw this message projected onto a large screen at 11:30 PM: “YOU ARE ABOUT TO PARTICIPATE IN AN ESP EXPERIMENT.” 

It was a test to see if people could use extra-sensory perception, or ESP, to telepathically transmit randomly chosen images to two “psychic sensitive” people, Malcolm Bessent and Felicia Parise, who were sleeping 45 miles away. Bessent was at the Maimonides Dream Laboratory in Brooklyn, while Parise slept in her apartment. 

Art prints, selected at random, were projected at the Dead show, like The Castle of the Pyrenees and Philosophy in the Boudoir by René Magritte, or a visual representation of spinal chakras. Bessent and Parise described their dreams to two evaluators, an art therapy student and a divinity student, who then judged them based on their similarities to the images shown at the concert. 

The Grateful Dead were chosen because the members of the band agreed to facilitate such an experiment, but also because those who conducted the study had determined that the audience would be especially primed for telepathic abilities, in part because of the state of mind they assumed the audience would be in. 

In a paper summarizing the project, the authors wrote, “It was apparent to observers at the concert that the majority of the people in the audience were in states of consciousness that had been dramatically altered…these altered states of consciousness were brought about by the music, by the ingestion of psychedelic drugs before the concerts started, and by contact with other members of the audience.”

This is just one example of many of the historical overlap between psychical and paranormal research, and psychedelics. Some of the most storied names from the early psychedelic research period were also investigating ESP, telepathy, and precognition. Their interest in psychedelics wasn’t tangential, but directly related, as was the case in the Grateful Dead experiment. Many thought that psychedelics could induce these experiences, or bring about states where they were more likely to occur. Of course, the CIA’s MK-Ultra program, from 1953 to 1964, also pursued mind-controlling abilities of psychedelics; a psychiatrist, Donald Ewen Cameron, used LSD to do “psychic driving” experiments on people at McGill University’s Allan Memorial Institute.

Today, people continue to regularly report having anomalous or paranormal experiences while on psychedelics. David Luke, a psychologist at Greenwich University, has looked at surveys of those who used psychedelics, finding that the percentage of them who said they experienced psi phenomenon ranges from 18 to 83 percent of people depending on the group. Telepathy was the most common, but precognition, or having knowledge of an event before it happens, was also widely reported. 

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Bill Moves Forward That Will Legalize Psychedelic Drugs Like DMT & Ibogaine in the Entire State of California

Despite the overwhelming evidence showing that kidnapping and caging people for possessing illegal substances does nothing to prevent use and only leads to more crime and suffering, government is still hell bent on enforcing the war on drugs. Like a crack addict who needs to find his next fix, the state is unable to resist the temptation to kick in doors, shake down brown people, and ruin lives to enforce the drug war.

Instead of realizing the horrific nature of the enforcement of prohibition, many cities across the country double down on the drug war instead of admitting failure. As we can see from watching it unfold, this only leads to more suffering and more crime. Luckily, there are cities, and now entire states in other parts of the country that are taking steps to stop this violent war and the implications for such measures are only beneficial to all human kind.

Eight years ago, Colorado citizens—tired of the war on drugs and wise to the near-limitless benefits of cannabis—made US history by voting to legalize recreational marijuana. Then, in 2019, this state once again placed themselves on the right side of history as they voted to decriminalize magic mushrooms. But this was just the beginning and their momentum is spreading—faster and stronger, toward decriminalizing all plant-based psychedelics. Then, this year, the state of Oregon decriminalized all drugs.

Now, another state is following suit, but not just with psilocybin— a bill in California is moving forward with a legalization measure for other psychedelics like mescaline cacti, ayahuasca and ibogaine.

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Microdosing Magic Mushrooms A ‘Growing Trend’ Among Some Suburban Moms

Magic mushrooms have long been considered a serious drug — the federal government puts it in the same class as heroin — but it’s catching on in the oddest place: suburbia.

Moms in communities around San Diego are “microdosing” mushrooms, which contain the mind-altering substance psilocybin, a new report says.

“It’s so necessary for some of us to be out and forward because we need to move the needle. We need to help give permission to other mothers, to fathers and other families,” said a woman identified only as Mikaela, according to the local CBS affiliate, which published a story headlined “Micro-dosing magic mushrooms: A growing trend among San Diego moms.”

In microdosing, people take a small dose in various forms, which can be pills, gummies, and chocolate. “So a dose that would give you a classic psychedelic effect would be anywhere between a gram to five, six, seven grams and so a microdose is a fraction of a gram,” Mikaela told the station.

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How an NHL Enforcer Broke His Body — and Turned to Psychedelics to Heal His Brain

Riley Cote’s journey to enlightenment began in earnest when a hulking man punched him in the face. Cote, now 40 and retired from professional hockey, remembers the moment with a dark laugh. He’d gotten into this particular bust-up one night during the 2009 season with one of the NHL’s most vicious fighters, and took the worst of it, waking the next day with his left eye blackened shut.

“What,” he asked himself, “am I doing?”

He drove to the Philadelphia Flyers training facility and got into the shower. Feeling congested, he reached for a tissue. He didn’t realize he’d suffered a cracked sinus, so what happened next was physics. When he blew his nose, the air — rather than coming out of his nostrils — inflated his face. The pressure surged instantly behind his good eye and closed it tight.

Team trainer Derek Settlemyre heard Cote scream. “His whole face had swollen up,” Settlemyre recalls. “We tell them, if they think they have a fracture, ‘Don’t blow your nose’ — and he did.”

After eight years in pro hockey (four in the NHL, four hopping around its minor-league teams), Cote felt his retirement bearing down. As an NHL “enforcer” — a player whose main role is to get into fights — he’d taken countless hits on the ice. Off it, he self-medicated with booze and drugs. He’d brutalized his body inside and out by the tender age of 28. “I damaged my brain,” Cote says. “Punching it and dehydrating it and partying my ass off.”

Today, Cote is a new man, with a mane of long brown hair, a yoga-trimmed physique, and an aura of ease in his own skin. It is a transformation he credits largely to psychedelic drugs. Since retiring, Cote has emerged as one of the sports world’s most vocal advocates for what he calls “plant medicines” — from cannabis, itself a light psychedelic, to weightier hallucinogens including DMT and magic mushrooms — to treat post-concussion symptoms (think headaches, insomnia, depression, and possibly, the degenerative brain condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE). In 2017, Cote co-founded Athletes for Care, a group that promotes research into the physical and emotional health issues athletes face and novel paths for treatment. He regularly speaks at conferences on the benefits of psychedelics. And, perhaps most important, he reaches out to players who are known to be struggling post-career, even arranging magic-mushroom ceremonies where they can safely experiment with the drug.

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Psychedelics: How They Act On The Brain To Relieve Depression

Up to 30% of people with depression don’t respond to treatment with antidepressants. This may be down to differences in biology between patients and the fact that it often takes a long time to respond to the drugs – with some people giving up after a while. So there is an urgent need to expand the repertoire of drugs available to people with depression.

In recent years, attention has turned to psychedelics such as psilocybin, the active compound in “magic mushrooms”. Despite a number of clinical trials showing that psilocybin can rapidly treat depression, including for cancer-related anxiety and depression, little is known about how psilocybin actually works to relieve depression in the brain.

Now two recent studies, published in The New England Journal of Medicine and Nature Medicine, have shed some light on this mysterious process.

Psilocybin is a hallucinogen that changes the brain’s response to a chemical called serotonin. When broken down by the liver (into “psilocin”), it causes an altered state of consciousness and perception in users.

Previous studies, using functional MRI (fMRI) brain scanning, have shown that psilocybin seems to reduce activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that helps regulate a number of cognitive functions, including attention, inhibitory control, habits and memory. The compound also decreases connections between this area and the posterior cingulate cortex, an area that may play a role in regulating memory and emotions.

An active connection between these two brain areas is normally a feature of the brain’s “default mode network”. This network is active when we rest and focus internally, perhaps reminiscing about the past, envisioning the future or thinking about ourselves or others. By reducing the activity of the network, psilocybin may well be removing the constraints of the internal “self” – with users reporting an “opened mind” with increased perception of the world around them.

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Love & Other Drugs: The Couples Using Psychedelics as a Way To Get Closer

Some couples like to take time off and wander the world to recharge, rejuvenate and reconnect with each other. Others prefer a different kind of trip. 

Psychedelics are increasingly gaining prominence as well as regulatory approval as a form of treatment for mental health disorders ranging from PTSD to anxiety. This has also sparked a larger conversation on whether using hallucinogens like psilocybin mushrooms or LSD could then also emerge as a form of relationship therapy, given that these substances have the ability to curb inhibitions and change the way we perceive reality. 

The rise and rise of psychedelic wellness has also led to couples experimenting with the substances together, either to forge stronger bonds, deal with deep-seated issues in a controlled setting or simply share the euphoric experience together. In fact, though psychedelics are not legal in most countries, relationship counsellors are increasingly advocating their use in counselling sessions, where a couple is administered a mild dosage in a controlled environment, asked leading questions about their hopes and fantasies while they’re tripping, and given calculated counselling based on their experiences. 

“Psilocybin has incredible [potential] as a catalyst for such therapy because it tears down all your walls and filters, and changes the way you think about the relationship,” Kripi Malviya, a psychologist and founder of de-addiction and rehabilitation centre TATVA, told VICE. 

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Why Is Everyone Smoking Toad Venom?

In Southampton, soccer moms drop their kids off at school after taking their thrice-weekly microdose of psilocybin mushrooms, then meet for oat milk lattes. In Sun Valley, private retreats dedicated to tripping on MDMA or the Amazonian elixir ayahuasca are becoming almost as common as backyard barbecues. (Just don’t bring the kids.) In Silicon Valley, tech entrepreneurs and financiers turned psychonauts believe that taking small doses of LSD, in either liquid or tab form, helps with creativity and productivity in the workforce. Even rightwing internet investor Peter Thiel has put a formidable stake in Compass Pathways, a publicly traded psychedelic medicine company.

But now there’s a weirder, wilder new drug appearing on the menu for moneyed types in search of mind expansion: the Toad, otherwise known as 5-MeO-DMT (or, if you really want to know its correct name, 5-methoxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine), or DMT, or Bufo. In his landmark 2018 memoir, How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan referred to it as the Everest of psychedelics.

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