Psychedelic Psychotherapy

There’s a resurgence of interest in the use of LSD for a variety of therapeutic purposes. I’d like to recount my own stance on the topic, provide some insight into my history with the drug, as well as some advice for would be psychonauts.

To begin, I’m a huge proponent of safe psychedelic use, specifically LSD.


I was massively depressed and suicidal growing up (I had family problems, and two of my best friends killed them selves at 13 and 17). I dropped out of high school. I was homeless and estranged from my family.

At around 17 years old I experimented with LSD and mushrooms, and while I didn’t realize it then, my life massively changed for the better. Maybe I grew up. Maybe I took responsibility for my life. Or maybe… there was a synergistic effect that accompanied my psychedelic use. Of course, my religious family thinks it was all their prayer and god’s work… because it is a miracle. I should be dead, or some deadbeat loser living in a gutter.

However, as I’ve grown older, the more I believe that my psychedelic use had a profound impact on my mind, and my ability to perceive the world and my sense of self differently, in an empowering way, which allowed me to break from from self-limiting perceptions and beliefs.

I ended up attending a top 12 university, and achieved more than I thought was possible in those adolescent years. I worked hard and thought big. It wasn’t that it imbued me with special powers, it simply revealed a way of looking at the world that was much more elastic that anything I could have imagined.

Most of my friends at that university experimented with LSD, and none of them are what you would call crazy or possess poor judgment. Quite the contrary. They all are doing amazing things. They’re all deep and insightful, and righteously responsible.

Years later, when I thought about powerfully it reshaped my notion of reality and transformed the potential living within me, it prompted me to become an evangelist for psychedelic use. I share it with whomever I feel would benefit, educating them on the research, on the negative stigmas, and emphasizing how necessary it is to respect the substance and approach it with care and good intent.

Psychedelics have gotten such a terrible reputation. I believe they are immensely helpful for anxiety and depression, specifically LSD.

I believe psychedelic therapies needs to be adopted as an alternative to current psychiatric therapies which are toxic and destructive and deadening by comparison. (I was on countless drugs growing up, dozens, prescribed by psychiatrists… they did nothing. Just made me more dead inside.)

I also believe psychedelics open the mind in ways that only radical life experiences can.

I think this mind expansion can be useful for learning, creating, and perceiving new ways of looking at the world.

And while I’ve yet to see it negatively effect anyone other than a bad trip, which, seen in the right light, can be a therapeutic experience, I know they need to be respected and understood.

I also realize that some people with a family history of mental disorders like schizophrenia, would be better off staying away. For example, some people have used psychedelics, and they go crazy. But I ask myself: how many of those people were crazy to begin with, before we framed their condition through their use of psychedelics? How many would end up like that if they never tried psychedelics to begin with?

I tend to think that the fear is over dramatized.

But I do emphasize respecting its use in a profound way.

It changes you.

The upside is that real LSD is so rare, and distributed by so few people, that the chances of people finding it and abusing it or using it irresponsibly are slim.

The first time I tried it was with a musician buddy: long blond hair, torn denim jeans, long sleeve thermals top. We met in jazz band. He was a transfer spring senior year, and we hit it off, and instead of playing with the band, we jammed out in the band closet and talked life and music theory.

While he was no guru, he had some experience, and he was one of the few and first people that had access to real LSD-25 (he was from a hippy town in CO). At the time, I was extremely interested in being able to see the world differently. I was suicidal, and desperate to escape from this internal mental hell that I had been living with for years, and trying to escape by more destructive means.

The first experience entailed a sleep over. We each took one hit. It wasn’t that potent; it really didn’t do much. We talked about life forever. Girlfriends. Family. Just life. Laughing. Listening to stories.

I was expecting mass hallucinations, but there was none. Just colors. Everything had more potent color. Vivid. Almost a halo of rainbow. I had a giddiness. But no hallucinations like I was expecting.

We walked some suburban woodlands for a bit and everything was magical and exciting. I couldn’t sleep, and was hoping for the marshmallow dinosaurs and electric zebras to manifest, but they never did.

The whole experience changed what I thought of psychedelics. I thought it’d be a more visual experience, but it ended up being much more psychological. 8-12+ hours in total.

My first time on mushrooms I was in a group of best friends. My friend and I had ventured into Florida cow pastures, donned in camouflage, the days after rainfall and had picked a pound or more. The Internet was crude back in 05, but we found resources for safely identifying them.

As a group of 7, we divided evenly and consumed. Probably 5 shrooms a piece of varying size. They were not dry. We ate with brownies and milk.

It was intense. Hilarious. Colorful. At times overwhelming. Smiling. Laughing. Confusing. We walked, we talked, we looked at the moon and stars, examined frogs and flowers and grass and trees.

All in all, a lot of bonding. It was an amazing experience. 4-6 hours in total.

Dosage is approximately 100-150 mcg per tab. If it’s older, and not well kept, potency will diminish. Liquid is harder to determine, but one drop is approximately the same as one tab.

If you take 1 tab, don’t expect anything dramatic. Mostly a body trip. But depends on mindset.

If you take 2 tabs, you will have a more powerful experience. More visuals.

As you take more, the trip is more intense. With that intensity comes a lot more unpredictability. Your mind produces all kinds of images and connections, and you can get absorbed in those manifestations, for better or worse.

For any trip, set aside the day.

For LSD, it takes about 30-90 minutes for the initial effects to begin.

There is a period where you begin to peak— anxiety heightens, excitement peaks, things begin to jitter and perceptions loosen. There is usually an uneasiness, a giddiness.

This state is dose dependent, but usually lasts between 2-6 hours.

After the peak, the come down and “reintegration” can last another 6 or more hours. This period the mind is no longer “peaking” with energy. It’s making sense of the new perceptions, and integrating them back into a functional whole.

There are major perception changes on a trip. Senses. Time. Space. Things and perceptions warp, and you gain an awareness of how flimsy and unreliable our perceptions really are.

When you go to sleep, you wake up as though nothing happened, except that you have memories of this experience that resemble a powerful dream. There are no lingering side effects, other how powerful the experience was, how deeply it affected your notion of reality.

I usually feel very refreshed, as if the world was anew. Like the cobwebs have been cleaned and the fog lifted. There is a clarity.

One thing I always tell others and remind myself is that the entire trip is a manifest of my mind. It’s not outside me, it’s inside me. As a result, there is no reason to lose control. Do not react hastily to thoughts and feelings and perceptions. Accept them. Embrace them. Reflect on them. They are you. They are apart of you. You possess them. Do not let them possess you. Do this, and you will never have a bad trip. I have safely tripped more times than I can count.

When you’re approaching a trip, there are two aspects that are most important for preparing the experience: mind-set and setting.

We could discuss what set and setting entails, but that’s a long conversation. In short: good attitude, good vibes, safe setting, comfortable and familiar. In your home. In familiar nature. I’d avoid public places and people.

And it’s preferable for the first number of trips to have a safe and understanding “sitter” or “guide” there who is reliable and calm and supportive.

As you gain experience, you can explore the bounds of set and setting, to push your mind to places for therapeutic purposes.

Psychedelics amplify whatever thoughts or surroundings you’re in. They turn up the volume, so to say, for good or ill.

The bad trips are the most therapeutic. You’re working through repressed thoughts and feelings that otherwise go unnoticed or denied or suppressed as a natural psycho response to pain.

Ridding self deception is the root of all therapy.

When that negativity comes to mind during a trip it’s often uncomfortable as hell. You work through it. You accept it. You embrace it. You see it in the right light, with the right perspective.

What you don’t do is resist thoughts or feelings or experiences. That only causes more problems.

You can’t run from yourself.

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