After decades of being relegated to the sidelines, it appears that psychedelics will become legal in the United States within the next 2 years. The Department of Health and Human Services expects that the FDA will greenlight psychedelic therapy techniques that involve MDMA and Psilocybin.
For the thousands of Americans who have already worked with psychedelics in a healing venue, such as that of psychedelic-assisted therapy, this announcement comes as a relief. And millions more could open up to the notion of psychedelic therapy once it is no longer prohibited.
Truthfully, find this news quite exciting. At Tandava Retreats, we have worked with 5-MeO-DMT, a psychedelic medicine, to treat mental health issues in our clients for several years. We’ll help you understand the reasoning behind these developments and their implications for the future.
Why Is The Biden Administration Preparing To Legalize Psychedelics?
It might come as a shock to some. The oldest president in American history is presiding over the gradual legalization of psychedelics. Some recall the tumultuous decade or so that psychedelics experienced in the 1960s. Of course, that came to a halt with Nixon’s war on drugs.
The United States has classified psychedelics as controlled substances for decades. Before they were banned, psychedelics were a common subject of study both at universities and government facilities. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 put an end to all this.
Most likely, the younger members of the Biden administration have influenced this recent decision on psychedelics. The decision came in the form of a letter from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Considering the abundance of research on these substances, we would say that it’s about time. Here is some of the reasoning behind the transition to legal psychedelic therapy.
Addressing The Mental Health Crisis
A major motivating factor in the legalization of psychedelics is the fact that these medicines are a powerful form of mental health treatment. It certainly comes at a time of need. Not only have mental health issues and substance abuse skyrocketed in the last decade, but the recent pandemic has only worsened this phenomenon. Hence, therapists are looking for new tools to treat mental health, including psychedelic-assisted therapy.
Since psychedelics are noted for their ability to treat PTSD symptoms, veterans groups have welcomed the SAMHSA’s decision. Retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Martin Steele noted that veterans, like many other people searching for psychedelic therapies, must currently spend ridiculous sums of money on obtaining psychedelic therapy. And they do so in a convoluted fashion. They would like to see a simplified path to receiving therapy, one that’s unfettered by law enforcement.
Steele later went on to say that “psychedelic-assisted therapy has proved not only life-saving but life-restoring.” This is what makes psychedelic legalization so crucial.
Protecting Therapists And Patients
On the flip side, any therapist who dreams of offering psychedelics for therapeutic use will be severely punished both by local law enforcement and federal actors too. It doesn’t matter if you make psychedelics legal under state law, psychotherapists ultimately answer to federal bodies. Without legalization, their therapy practices and healing centers will remain unregulated. This does more harm than good. Having a federal body overseeing their work and rigorous standards to adhere to will make psychedelic therapy safer for everyone involved.
Over 300 people die of drug overdoses every day in the United States. Having professional oversight of this drug could easily save lives.
It’s no secret that psychedelics have been a controversial subject for decades. So, what sparked this change of heart? MDMA and Psilocybin, the subject of the SAMHSA’s recommendations, are currently classified as Schedule 1 Drugs under the federal law of the United States meaning that they have “no currently accepted medical use”.
Simply put, the amount of academic evidence in favor of psychedelics and their potency in treating disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression is overwhelming. Several reputable American medical institutions, from NYU to Mount Sinai, are starting to take notice.
At this stage, the need for new mental health treatment strategies has reached a crescendo. Several organizations, such as MAPS have indicated a need to reduce suffering among the American population.
Naturally, the shift and perceptions can be partially attributed to the shift in demographics at these various organizations. Younger people haven’t been exposed to the coordinated media efforts against psychedelics that were so prevalent in the 1970s and 1980s. The biased perceptions that might have clouded the judgment of past researchers are no longer present in the current day.
What The Science Says
Several psychedelic medicines, ranging from psilocybin mushrooms to MDMA, have been used in tandem with psychedelic therapy. This combination has proved extremely successful in combatting the most severe symptoms of depression, PTSD, and other mental health disorders. At times, researchers have argued that psychedelic medicines are more efficacious than pharmaceutical drugs.
Thus far, researchers have conducted clinical trials at Stanford and John Hopkins University. There is still a lot of research to be done, but at the moment, the current U.S. administration is confident that the FDA will approve the use of psilocybin in treating depression and MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD.
Those approvals should happen over the next two years. However, there are far more psychedelic medicines that therapists could put to use across the United States. We’re about to examine this matter further.
Evidence Supporting Different Psychedelics
Let’s take a look at a few different psychedelic medicines and the existing research associated with them.
In 2019, researchers from several European universities studied the effects of a single inhalation of 5-MeO-DMT on life satisfaction. Based on anecdotal reporting from the study participants, the average participant recorded enhanced life satisfaction for several months following the inhalation.
Ayahuasca has demonstrated effectiveness as a possible treatment option for several different disorders including addiction, anxiety, and depression. Researchers postulate that there are likely several further medical uses for Ayahuasca, but researching them is tricky due to their legal status.
Psilocybinn & MDMA
Psilocybin-assisted therapy is thought to have a huge impact on improving the symptoms of depression. Moreover, MDMA-assisted therapy has exhibited similar results in helping resolve trauma, for instance, in those veterans we mentioned earlier.
Ketamine was initially conceived as an anesthetic. However, it’s even more useful for alleviating symptoms of depression. Since this medicine is already legal, several ketamine infusion clinics administer the substance to patients.
The Next Steps For Psychedelic Study
The issue with much of the research that’s cited in the psychedelics debate is that the sample size of each study is rather small. The number of participants in some of the studies we mentioned ranges from around 40 to 200 – hardly a large enough number to make any empirical conclusions. Hopefully, the recent announcement by the SAMHSA will encourage further study. Especially if MDMA and Psilocybin therapies are on track for approval during the next 24 months.
Unfortunately, there are still major hurdles standing in the way of further research into psychedelics like 5-MeO-DMT or Nn-DMT. That’s because these controlled substances are heavily regulated in the United States and other Western countries which makes it difficult for scientists to obtain and conduct research on them. However, the fact that the DEA canceled its plan to regulate synthetic psychedelics including several DMT analogs makes us think that the tides are turning.
For now, most psychedelic studies will need to focus on the potential for adverse events when taking these psychedelics and which types of patients might be more prone to them. Moreover, psychedelic therapy, like any other type of therapy, isn’t a silver bullet. Scientists need to identify which types of people are the best fit for psychedelic-assisted therapy.
There are so many different avenues to explore. At the moment, John Hopkins University has created a psychedelic research center. Recently, they studied the effect of MDMA, known to increase sociability, on treating patients with autism.
What Are Psychedelic Drugs?
With all this discussion regarding psychedelics, we figured it would be useful for us to introduce you to a few different kinds of psychedelic compounds and describe their benefits. Psychedelics are a type of hallucinogenic substance that alters your state of consciousness. During these altered states of consciousness, participants often experience shifts in their sensory perceptions as well as psychological ones.
We prefer to think of psychedelic drugs as medicine. The term drug carries a lot of baggage, plus, it gives a false impression that these psychedelics don’t have natural origins.
For the time being, each of these psychedelics is a controlled substance in the United States. The federal administration is looking at approving the first two for therapeutic use. However, we encourage further study of all 4.
Psilocybin mushrooms, which also go by the name “magic mushrooms” are a psychedelic medicine that is used for both medical and spiritual healing purposes. Several jurisdictions, not just in the US, are looking to legalize psilocybin but for now, psilocybin remains illegal.
Some background on psilocybin mushrooms
Contained in over 180 different species of mushroom, psilocybin is a naturally-occurring psychoactive compound. The nature of these mushrooms varies from place to place. Different types of psilocybin mushrooms exist on different continents. That also means that your experience with psilocybin will vary depending on the type of mushroom you select.
When you take psilocybin, you convert the substance into psilocin which creates the resulting hallucinatory experience.
How psilocybin is used today
People have been experimenting with psilocybin increasingly as some federal and regional jurisdictions across the West have moved to legalize psilocybin mushrooms. This has also given rise to psilocybin therapy, which is currently unregulated. Essentially, individuals will take doses of psilocybin and reflect upon the experience using integration techniques. This helps heal past trauma.
Why DO people work with Psilocybin mushrooms?
The psilocybin experience is incredibly powerful. Those who have taken psilocybin report that time seems to slow down and they feel more of a connection with everything around them during this experience. Hence, a therapy setting is ideal for this medicine, despite its proliferation in the nightclub scene.
After taking psilocybin, people report that their thinking evolves and they begin to adopt new and unusual perspectives. This is part of why psilocybin is so valuable for therapy. It helps you discover new perspectives on your life which in turn can help you overcome the mental patterning that might have hampered you while suffering from a previous mental illness.
One of the erroneous factors that draw people to psilocybin mushrooms is that they facilitate ego death. This experience is possible under high dosages, but it’s not something you should expect going into the experience. First-time users should stick to a low dosage.
Additionally, people tend to believe that psilocybin mushroom size affects the strength of the psilocybin experience. However, this is not the case. The strength of the experience varies based on the type of mushroom strain rather than varying purely on its size.
Also known as “Ecstasy” or “Molly”, MDMA is considered one the most popular ‘party drugs.’ However, recent research suggests that this substance can go far beyond recreational use. MDMA-assisted therapy could help diminish the effects of anxiety disorders and PTSD.
Some background on MDMA
Discovered serendipitously by a chemist in 1912, MDMA stands for Methylenedioxymethamphetamine. Originally, this medicine was synthesized in a lab – it’s not plant medicine. Typically, you take this medicine in the form of tablets or crystals, which makes it easy to distribute.
One advantage to MDMA is that it doesn’t last as long as other psychedelics. This makes it far easier to use and distribute as part of a therapy program. While MDMA seems to be effective in a therapeutic setting, the long-term effects of its consumption still haven’t been studied thoroughly.
How mdma is used today
Generally speaking, the convenience of MDMA makes it perfect for proliferation at clubs and festivals. However, we’re most interested in its usage in MDMA-assisted therapy.
A recent study conducted by MAPS noted that 88% of participants that had severe PTSD saw a significant reduction in their PTSD diagnostic school 2 months after taking MDMA. Moreover, 67% of participants in that same study no longer required PTSD remission after those sessions.
Why DO people work with mdma?
MDMA is a social drug, it’s characterized by a feeling of euphoria and increases extroversion in all those who take it. Not to mention, it decreases feelings of fear and hostility. Hence, you can see why those suffering from PTSD benefit from this medicine. The warmth and increased personal trust you feel can help you overcome some of your biggest inner challenges.
MDMA makes for a great introductory psychedelic. According to a 2007 study by Blakemore and colleagues, it’s just about the least harmful psychedelic you can take, with few negative side effects in the short term.
Of course, the main myth regarding MDMA is that it’s exclusively a party drug. At this point, you should be well aware that’s not true. Some also say that MDMA is dehydrating. While you should stay hydrated as you would normally while you take MDMA, there is little risk of dehydration. It might even help you retain water. The main issue might be that because a lot of people mix MDMA with alcohol, which does dehydrate you, then
Ayahuasca, which is also known as DMT, is one of the more popular psychedelics in the modern day. However, its therapeutic properties extend far beyond the benefits mentioned in pop culture.
Some background on ayahuasca
Born in South America this beverage is made from a mixture of psychedelic plants. It has a storied history too, records date back at least 1,000 years, but historical evidence suggests shamans could have been working with this medicine for a lot longer than that. While shamans and other individuals who worked with the medicine back then were mainly using it for spiritual exploration, it has caught the eyes of psychedelic practitioners in recent years due to its detox properties.
Ayahuasca holds an abundance of healing potential for anyone who works with it. After observing its benefits in indigenous populations, doctors in the 1950s started studying Ayahuasca to see if it could help cure opiate addiction. Research since then has been limited. However, it’s generally thought that Ayahuasca helps relieve addictions.
How ayahuasca is used today
Ayahuasca retreats have become increasingly popular over the last decade. Many of these healing centers advertise themselves as being able to help you with mental health conditions like PTSD, however, that doesn’t mean that these people are trained therapists. Look out for any scams and do your due diligence on these centers before you commit to them.
Why DO people work with ayahuasca?
Generally speaking, your perceptions dictate the quality and nature of your Ayahuasca experience. Therefore, the Ayahuasca ceremony truly is what you make of it. If your mental health is at the forefront of your thoughts while you prepare for an Ayahuasca ceremony, then you could have a pertinent revelation during your session.
An ayahuasca trip is usually quite empowering. People work with this substance to heal their past trauma. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is quite effective in this regard.
Since Ayahuasca also goes by the name DMT, it often gets confused with 5-MeO-DMT. The experiences with these medicines are completely different even if they share a similar chemical structure. Aside from that, people are also afraid of the purging that can occur while taking 5-MeO-DMT. However, this purging will not interfere with the quality of your experience.
Since we work almost exclusively with 5-MeO-DMT at our retreat center, 5-MeO is what we’re most familiar with. One notable aspect of 5-MeO is that its ceremonies are extremely short. It usually wears off after 45 minutes at the most. However, its revelations are so profound that it requires a great deal of preparation beforehand.
Background on 5-meo-dmt
5-MeO comes from several different sources. It was first used about 3,000 years ago and consumed as a type of plant medicine by indigenous tribes in South America. Fast-forward a few millennia and the first researchers began to synthesize the 5-MeO-DMT compound which led to more widespread production.
Of course, 5-MeO is also found in the venom of the Colorado River Toad. However, environmentalists want to deter people from using this venom since it abuses and depletes local toad populations and upsets the balance of the ecosystem.
How 5-meo-dmt is used today
As a general rule, we recommend working with 5-MeO-DMT at a retreat center rather than trying it alone. There are several different dangers posed by the medicine and you must prepare for the experience thoroughly beforehand. Not to mention, you should practice integration afterward.
Why DO people work with 5-meo-dmt?
Once again, it’s said that 5-MeO-DMT is extremely helpful in resolving mental health disorders ranging from Depression to PTSD to addiction. There are quite a few studies that echo these thoughts, but with their small sample sizes, there is little definitive evidence at the moment.
Aside from these concrete scientific benefits, many also prefer 5-MeO due to the profound spiritual insights that it offers. For instance, some who work with the medicine report experiencing a merging with the infinite and greater connection with the universe.
Several sources claim that the 5-MeO experience is only worth your while if you use “natural” toad or plant-based 5-MeO. However, our personal experience and the anecdotal experience of others would suggest otherwise. For our part, we never use toad venom at our retreats and instead opt for synthetic 5-MeO. The result is far more favorable in the long run since synthetic 5-MeO is easier to administer and causes no harm to any toads.
The Way Forward
For the time being, psychedelics remain illegal in the United States. All we can say is that we hope that Scientists begin researching these medicines more intensely as the atmosphere surrounding psychedelics opens up.
If you want to go on a psychedelic retreat to experience legitimate psychedelic therapy practices, you can do so legally in countries like Portugal and Mexico. Tandava hosts several 5-MeO-DMT retreats a year which derive in part from Western psychotherapy practices as we employ specialists from a psychological background.
Visit our blog to learn more about 5-MeO-DMT and how it stacks up against other psychedelics.