PSYCHEDELICS AND PSYCHOTHERAPY: WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?

 

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Alaia Singh 

It has been over 10,000 years since psychoactive plants were first used in ancient rituals, more than a century since Anton Köllisch synthesized MDMA, and over eighty years since Albert Hoffman first synthesized LSD. 

Just this april Rick Doblin, founder of MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies) gave the first official TED Talk about psychedelics and their potential for psychotherapy.

MAPS was established in 1986, to raise awareness about psychedelic substances. They have been working closely  with scientists to research the scope of substances such as ayahuasca, psilocybin, MDMA, marijuana, LSD, and their therapeutic benefits. With their clinical research, they also work closely with the FDA (Food and Drug  Administration) and EMA (European Medicines Agency) to ensure that correct protocol is followed.

Most psychiatric drugs used today to treat clinical depression, anxiety,  etc. merely attack the symptoms and not the root causes of these illnesses. Psychedelics on the other hand provide a grass-root approach to these problems, with results from a single use. Additionally, they are used infrequently unlike other psychiatric drugs which are administered daily. Psychedelics are crucial in neuroscience to study brain functions and human consciousness, because of its ability to activate different parts of our brain.

‘The shift in awareness is the most important experience in our lives. On LSD the activity in our brain is reduced in the part where we create our sense of self. This phenomenon causes people to feel more altruistic and reduces fear of death.’ said Dr. Doblin, in his Ted Talk.

MAPS estimates that MDMA will be FDA approved by the end of 2021 for the psychotherapeutic treatment of PTSD. 

In Conversation With Amitabh Swetta, Psychedelic DJ and founder of 1000 petals

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Do  you see the potential for psychedelics  to be used in psychotherapy?

If done in a controlled environment followed with mediation, psychedelicshave a lot of potential to heal trauma and expand consciousness.  A lot of people do psychedelics recreationally, and that’s OK, but when it becomes a weekend habit and done excessively at parties it can be dangerous. The switch we need to see is from the recreational use to more of a workshop setting. Perhaps MAPS should host a few workshops in India.

What is the psychedelic community like in India?

In 1996 there used to be just thirty of us gathering and now this community has grown to over 10,000 people. It’s upsetting to see that the community that began with hopes to use LSD spiritually, saw simultaneous abuse with its expansion.. I volunteer as a trip sitter at a lot of parties quite frequently, and there are so  many people misusing the drug and they end up having a really bad trip. When you do psychedelics, a lot of undealt emotions can surface and if you don’t deal with them it can cause you to have a bad trip, that’s why trip sitters and controlled environments are important. It allows you to effectively deal with any negativity that comes up and move past it.

There are several prominent locations for psychedelic festivals in India. Kasol is dying out thought, the infrastructure is very poor and it’s usually just people doing heroine .

What does the future hold?

I don’t see psychedelics becoming legal in India anytime soon. The governments would collapse if it did. The thing about LSD and other psychedelics is, it can help us all reach such a profound state of harmony that outright authority, like governments, would lose power and become futile. I don’t think the government would let that happen.

What has your experience been as a psychedelics DJ?

I would just play for my friends early on, and it’s just in the last 7-8 years that I’ve started to DJ at events. The music is so amazing, even without being on any drug if you close your eyes and breath in a certain manner. The experience is absolutely stunning…you will reach a state of trance.

What other psychedelics work on improving our overall mental health?

Psilocybin, DMT, MDMA and, ayahuasca.

How does 1000 Petals offer similar psychedelic experiences without administering any drug?

1000 petals is established in two locations, Mumbai and Bangalore. Our services include sensory deprivation tanks (float therapy/ Floatation tanks). Floating in a zero gravity, zero  inflormation input environment allows for a  restful experience by relieving your mind from distractions and your body from tension. It is incredibly silent and still inside the pod which allows you to achieve a deep meditative state of theta-brainwaves. People have reported outer body experiences and visions too. We also offer Lucia no03 (Hypnagogic Light Machine). The Lucia no03 is a combination of flashing and constant light that stimulates temporary EEG brainwave patterns that in turn help users achieve a hypnagogic trance.  It activates the pineal gland and releases DMT in the brain. These techniques can be used for achieving altered states of consciousness, thus achieving similar states to psychedelics can be achieved outside of ‘party’ environment.

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