Medicinal Uses for Psychedelic Drugs

After a 40-plus year hiatus, research into medicinal uses for psychedelic drugs from ayahuasca to MDMA could reveal treatment for depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

| May/June 2013

  • Second Coming of Psychedelics
    You get out of your body and look back and see what is wrong with you. I saw the shell of the person I didn’t want to be and stepped out of it.
    Photo By Bruno Borges

  • Second Coming of Psychedelics

Ric Godfrey had the shakes. At night, his body temperature would drop and he’d start to tremble. During the day, he was jumpy. He was always looking around, always on edge. His vibe scared the people around him. He couldn’t hang on to a job.

He started drinking and drugging, anything to numb out.

Years passed before a Department of Veterans Affairs counselor told him he had severe post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The former Marine had spent the early 1990s interrogating prisoners in Kuwait. Years later, he was still playing out the Persian Gulf War.

Counseling helped a little, but the symptoms continued. He went to rehab for his substance abuse, then tried Alcoholics Anonymous. “That went on for 10 years,” he said. “I don’t know how many times I hit rock bottom.”

Then one of his Seattle neighbors—a woman who also suffered from PTSD—told him about a group of veterans who were going down to Peru to try a psychedelic drug called ayahuasca, a jungle vine that is brewed into a tea. Indigenous Peruvians called it “sacred medicine.” A wealthy veteran had started a healing center in South America and would pay all his expenses.

The next thing Ric knew, he was crawling into a tent on a platform out in the middle of the Amazon jungle. The sun went down. The shaman gave him the tea, a blessing, and a pail in which to vomit.

David Swanson
4/23/2018 9:58:09 AM

I was working in Scottsdale Arizona in 2000 thru 2002 with a crew that partially come from an Apache Reservation. One of my crew, who was recently retired from, I think, HUD, and was a graduate of UC Berkeley, showed me an article from the newspaper that was about a government study that showed that Indians who took peyote had higher IQs than those that did not. We discussed whether it was the pychoactive element expanding your mind, or whether smarter people were more likely to take peyote. We did not come to a conclusion. I know from personal observation, having grown up a 1/2 hour hitchhike Hollywood, and having fully dived into the hippie subculture in 1967, that pychedelic drugs are not for everyone. Some of us thrived on them, had no bad trips, and in my case graduated high school with a full scholarship. And others seemed disturbed or disconnected from reality after one experience. I never stayed in touch with those individuals who lost it, so I cannot say whether it was permanent.

5/15/2013 1:19:05 PM

" nobody really knows for certain how these substances work" - well said, 35 yrs past due...

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