Can Psychedelics Help Us Face Death More Easily?

Many of you may not know this, but along with my time writing here for the funeralOne blog, I have been going to school to become an Integrated Psychedelic Therapist. 

You might be wondering what in the world that even means. So let me go ahead and tell you before you go and Google any further…

 

What is Psychedelic Therapy?

According to Medical News Today:

Psychedelic therapy is the use of plants and compounds that can induce hallucinations to treat mental health diagnoses, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

So, the role of a Psychedelic Therapist is to “hold space” for experiences with (and without psychedelics) for folks.

Currently, in the United States, there are trials and laws being created to allow the use of Ketamine, Psilocybin and MDMA to help treat a myriad of symptoms and diseases like depression, PTSD, C-PTSD, anxiety, addictions, and more.

In fact, by 2023, there should be several states like Colorado, California and Oregon legalizing the use of psilocybin with therapy. And there are currently countless MDMA and Ketamine centers being created at this moment in the United States. 

 

The science on the effectiveness for Psychedelic Therapy for terminal illness

It’s not just my opinion, it’s scientifically proven that psychedelics are effective for many reasons but specifically terminal illness depression.

So before I go into my opinions, let me preface your doubts and fears with facts and science. I know you must be thinking “aren’t drugs bad for you?”. 

I’ll speak to that for a moment: there were many campaigns that forced that narrative down the throats of Americans for years. I’m here to tell you that this narrative was and always has been entirely false.

If you don’t believe me, give the documentary “How to Change Your Mind” on Netflix a watch. 

But before that, let’s just go right into the science. I have read many studies on the effectiveness of psychedelic therapy. But these two studies described in Science Magazine, which I found recently, cover the topic of death so well, it’s hard to not include them as a main foundation of today’s blog. 

So let’s dive into the basis of the studies. One pharmacologist, David Nutt, named these studies as “the most rigorous double-blind placebo-controlled trials of a psychedelic drug in the past 50 years” in the magazine.

Both studies, which were published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, went as described below in Science Magazine:

[They] combined a psychedelic trip with several sessions of psychotherapy. In one, at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, 51 cancer patients received two doses of the drug 5 weeks apart, one relatively high and one so low that it was unlikely to have any effect. In the second study, at New York University (NYU) in New York City, 29 cancer patients randomly received either psilocybin or niacin, a compound that mimics some side effects of psilocybin—including a flushed, hot feeling—but without the hallucinogenic properties. Seven weeks later, the patients received the other compound.

 

The results of the studies (nothing less than astonishing)

If you’re curious about all this talk around psychedelics and want to see the results, this is the part you should get excited about.

Here are the result highlights of the aforementioned studies:

Well if those numbers don’t have you thinking about the possibilities psychedelics bring to the table for those who are terminally ill, we’re not sure what will.

 

What these results could mean for our culture around death

Psychedelics have the potential to make a HUGE impact on people’s lives who are struggling with their terminal diagnosis. The more we can help folks die without fear, the more we liberate ourselves from the idea of death being a negative, taboo topic in our culture.

In fact, psychedelics are some of the most death positive substances we know today. 

Consider the implications if psychedelics were incorporated into hospice care, oncology, and more.

And let’s keep going…

Consider the opportunities of psychedelics to help those grieving.

Consider the changes we could make if psychedelics were more ingrained in our culture in a healthy, systemic, cultural and cosmological way that made us face death in an entirely different way altogether.

That’s the kind of shift I’m here for

If you’re interested in learning about the implications of psychedelic use in our society, I highly suggest watching the documentary “How to Change Your Mind” on Netflix co-created with New York Times Best Selling Author, Michael Pollan.

 

What about you? I’d love to hear your opinion on this topic in the comments below!

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