When it comes to addiction, we're all for whatever really, truly works, even if it sounds far-fetched. So are our colleagues over at Healing Properties. That's why we investigated the efficacy of toad venom. And that's why HP looked into the benefits of Special K. Now we're wondering whether or not magic mushrooms might be an effective way to battle cocaine addiction.
We got our lead from award-winning reporter Drew Taylor over at WIAT, which is better known as CBS42. Taylor got his goods straight from the source. Namely, Dr. Peter Hendricks, the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Public Health professor who's doing some exciting research into the efficacy of magic mushrooms. In fact, Taylor's been working this particular line of inquiry since 2016. And he's coming at it from a unique and rather inspiring angle: transcendance.
That's right. The UAB teacher researcher has an idea that transcendance could be the key to beating addiction. And he's adding ever more illumination to that bright idea each and every day.
Spiritual Addiction Treatment
Dr. Hendricks' quest to find a spiritual answer to the addiction treatment isn't new of course. In fact, Alcoholics Anonymous has employed spirituality in its program since its very beginning. Add the above-mentioned inquiries into ketamine and toad venom (both of which are rooted in transcendence) and you arrive at an increasingly well-traveled path.
Unfortunately, many a Western Medicine practitioner still considers that path to be risky and unconventional. So do the gatekeepers of Western Medicine's practices and protocols. Consequently many a bright mind like Hendricks continues to face unnecessary obstacles. Then again, enlightenment never did come easy -- for anyone.
One gets the impression that the dimness wouldn't prevent Hendricks from following through no matter how much shade was thrown his way. Heck, before raising the issue of magic mushrooms and addiction, the teacher/scholar/doctor/researcher had put forth a notion using hallucinogens to fight crime itself. Clear and unmitigated evidence of someone who truly believes in the efficacy of transcendence.
Dr. Hendricks' knows the collision of magic mushrooms and addiction can invoke near Biblical experiences.
“In many ways, it was like Paul on the road to Damascus," he told Taylor. "And, for many people, the idea that you could change suddenly and permanently."
Indeed. Participants are given just one dose. Then they spend the next four to six hours lying in the dark listening to a playlist curated by Johns Hopkins University psychologist Dr. Bill Richards. The playlist is designed to guide people as they experience the effects of psilocybin.
Of the first 10 people to take part in the study those who took the drug experienced higher life satisfaction, less depression and more abstinent days from cocaine than those who had taken the placebo. Hendricks believes a large part of that reason was the spiritual session helped remove the tunnel vision normally associated with addiction.
“When someone has a psych experience, their horizons are suddenly broadened and they can see,” he said. “You’re suddenly in the presence of something so big, you forget about that tunnel vision.”
There are seven different strains of magic mushrooms. Pre-Columbian sculptures and glyphs show that indigenous North, Central and South American cultures have used them for religious, spiritual and divinatory practices for centuries, if not longer. The first mention of hallucinogenic mushrooms in European medicinal literature was in the London Medical and Physical Journal in 1799. That was when a London man served one of those seven strains to his family and the youngest child "was attacked with fits of immoderate laughter" that neither mother nor father could stop. In other words, the kid went hysterical. (Thanks Wiki!)
By the mid 20th century, Westerners were intentionally experimenting with magic mushrooms. One couple (Valentina Pavlovna Wasson and R. Gordon Wasson) even recounted their experience for Life Magazine. Then in 1958, Albert Hofmann (of LSD fame) identified psilocybin and psilocin as the active compounds.
That set off a veritable bloom in magic mushrooms. Timothy Leary went down to Mexico for a trip, then came back and started the Harvard Psilocybin Project with Richard Alpert (aka Baba Ram Dass). Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson and the like soon started their own explorations. Until eventually, 'shrooms became an integral part of the hippie counterculture.
People have been tripping on psilocybin ever since. Unfortunately, that's really about all they could do. And even that had its risks. No, not because of any inherent danger with magic mushrooms. The risk came from Nixon's Controlled Substances Act, which made it a crime to partake in the age old ceremony.
Fortunately, the 2012 U.S. Congress passed the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. That enabled the FDA to grant psilocybin Breakthrough Therapy Designation. Now bright lights such as Dr. Hendricks are free to follow their vision.
And follow he does. In fact, the good doctor is still recruiting subjects for the study. So if you suffer from cocaine addiction and are interested in taking part, all you've gotta do is call his office.
Applause & Gratitude
Recovery Boot Camp applauds Dr. Hendricks for diligently following through with his vision. We're also extremely grateful to have such a highly-trained and divinely-inspired practitioner fighting the good fight on all our behalf. Addiction's been an afterthought for far too long. It's fantastic to see someone with the forethought to treat it with dignity and respect. It's compoundingly fantastic to see what great strides good Dr. Hendricks and his ilk are making for the cause.
What about you? Are you suffering from Substance Use Disorder? Is it cocaine? Again, Dr. Hendricks is seeking participants. And again, his treatment plan seems much more than promising. There are other available avenues too. NIDA can help you out. So can SAMHSA. We'd also be honored to lend a hand. Just give us a ring.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)