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Not since the 1960s have hallucinogens been so popular and widely discussed. With medical breakthroughs and new research, it’s clear that we are in a psychedelic renaissance. ...
By Jen Bernstein
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There are a ton of hot topics swirling around the cannabis industry, and lately, everyone I know is discussing psychedelics. Currently, there seems to be a whole new world of psychoactive drugs coming to the forefront and breaching the mainstream.

Psychedelics, in a broad stroke, are a subclass of hallucinogenic drugs that seek to alter “normal” mental states of being. Users often describe states of euphoria, a distorted sense of time and place, visual and auditory changes, and an altered state of consciousness. These “trips” often lead to mystical experiences and a deeper connection to our interior and external worlds.

However, there is still much misinformation (and questions) surrounding psychedelics. Science has begun to explore the depth of how psychedelics affect the psyche and initial findings suggest the drugs can be used not just for enhanced mental experiences but as an effective tool to treat and manage various mental and emotional conditions.

Good candidates for psychedelics are those who have tried traditional treatments for health conditions with little or no success, such as depression, anxiety, post-tramautic stress disorder (PTSD), addiction, eating disorders, and chronic pain.

But as with every type of drug, psychedelics are not a cure-all, nor do they work for everyone.  

Some people are not good candidates for psychedelic exploration, such as anyone with a history of psychosis or schizophrenia, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and individuals with serious heart or other medical conditions. Also, taking certain medications can have an adverse effect when combined with psychedelics.

So, what does science have to say about psychedelics? Here are four commonly used psychedelics that have received the most attention, how they work, and what they may help treat.


Ketamine is currently the only psychedelic the FDA has approved, to treat mental health issues such as treatment-resistant depression and anxiety disorders. Patients report a feeling of detachment from their body and surroundings and a heightened sense of awareness of their thoughts and emotions. Research has found a rapid and significant reduction in depression and symptoms of anxiety, and effects may last for weeks or months after treatment. Ketamine has been shown to be non-habit-forming when used in a medical setting, although, as with most things, there is potential for abuse.


MDMA (Ecstasy)

MDMA is used in talk therapy and can help patients process traumatic memories and develop new coping mechanisms. Patients report strong feelings of love, empathy, and a deeper connection with others. Some report increased energy, sensations of euphoria, and a reduction of inhibitions. MDMA is often used to treat PTSD, social anxiety disorder (SAD), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Common outcomes of MDMA treatment include reduced symptoms related to PTSD and trauma-related memories, improved social functioning in SAD patients, and favorable communication in ASD patients.


PSILOCYBIN (Mushrooms)

Patients who ingest mushrooms often report experiences of profound spiritual and emotional connections. Psilocybin can produce hallucinations that can influence your thinking, but which can also be challenging and transformative in positive ways. Common benefits include a reduction in depression symptoms, with some people experiencing full remission. Psilocybin is also used as a coping mechanism for cancer patients and to reduce anxiety and fear in end-of-life patients.


LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide)

The most visually stimulating of psychedelics, LSD creates powerful hallucinations that alter your state of consciousness. It can produce a euphoric trip that leaves patients feeling more creative and connected with their own spirituality and with the world around them. LSD is used to reduce alcohol cravings for people who suffer from alcohol use disorder and to relieve pain caused by cluster headaches. 



Want to take a trip, but not sure how to begin? Here are three tips.


Set and Setting
Where and when you take drugs should be carefully considered and thought out and not unnecessarily rushed. “Set” refers to one’s own mindset. “Setting” refers to the location. Where will you be most comfortable? Some people prefer to be outside exploring nature, while others prefer to relax at home. If you’re the latter, dim the lights, turn on some gentle tunes, and create a relaxing, comfortable space. And, don’t forget that your current headspace will likely impact the results of your trip. Being prepared, relaxed, and ready to go will definitely help your mind on your psychedelic journey!


Pack a Snack Pack
Wherever you decide to partake, make sure you have some supplies at the ready. Cosmic exploration into the inner depths of your mind may look and feel different to you than it does to a friend. Some may want to eat, while others have no interest in food. Water and herbal teas are good to have on hand, and if you’re taking ecstasy, gum or candy can help with any clenched-jaw sensations.


Partner Up
Do you have a friend or family member who has tripped before? If so, having an experienced sober companion can be helpful and make you feel safe. It can also help to alleviate any anxiety that you might feel should a mind-bending question arise.


Psychedelic Resource Hotline

Do you have questions about psychedelics? The Psychedelic Info Line is the world’s first-of-its-kind research call center devoted to reducing harm and improving outcomes by offering you the most up-to-date information on psychedelics. While they cannot offer medical advice or promote psychedelic use, they have a wide breadth of peer-reviewed studies in their extensive library taken from thousands of participants worldwide. Call 1-888-210-3553 (Monday to Thursday, 8 am to 5 pm MST); email or visit