Experiences with psychedelics?

I have watched YouTube videos of peoples anecdotal stories of “Life Transformations” after taking LSD, magic mushrooms, ayahuasca etc… and had positive trips. I wonder if any people on here have used them before.

In particular, people with depression.

bump, cause I’m interested.

I’ve had two ayahuasca ceremonies over the last two years. I’m deeply grateful for those experiences. If all goes well, I’ll have another ceremony in November or December. Ask me anything.

BTW - there have been at least a few threads on ayahuasca here before. They’re worth a search.

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I’m not sure how much I can say without running afoul of the rule against promoting illegal activity so I’ll try to couch it in terms of potential opportunities and risks.

It has great potential for many psychological ailments including anxiety, depression and PTSD. John Hopkins, Imperial College in London and an organization called MAPS have been doing interesting work.

It has 2 main types of effects: 1) Decreasing activity in what’s called the default mode network and limbic system (which have overlap with what Buddhists call the monkey mind) and loosening your usual thought patterns. 2) Amplifying activity and connectivity between parts of your brain which usually don’t communicate much.

Over months, years or decades, it can be easy to gradually sink and lock yourself into thought patterns which are distorted and rigid, like a clenched first that imprisons your consciousness. The life transformations you hear about is because people had the experience of loosening those patterns and seeing new possible ones. It allowed them to stand back from their usual self/worldview and see alternatives.

If you’re feeling anxious or sad, don’t count on psychedelics to lift your mood while they’re active; They usually amplify whatever mood you’re in at the start. However, they will tend to make you feel better in the following days, months and years. I first got interested in psychedelics when I realized that I felt the same the day after mushrooms as I had the day after my first good meditation session. That’s likely because both dampen some of the self-reinforcing brain activity in the default mode network and limbic system. If you dampen a self-reinforcing phenomenon enough, it becomes unable to sustain itself.
None of this is to suggests that there are only positives. It’s definitely not for people with schizophrenic leanings. The setting and your mindset are critical. It’s best to have a tripsitter, start early in on a good weather day, be well-rested and have no obligations that day. Maybe 10 hours of meditation experience are a good idea too; Meditation is like freediving into your own subconscious whereas psychedelics are like scuba diving. If you take psychedelics, you will have very unpleasant experiences at some point. That doesn’t mean they’re not beneficial experiences but they will be horrible to experience. If you want to have an idea of what it feels like (not what you’ll see externally but what it feels like), watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hkLhMuzk3E&t=441s

What’s the sequence of events over both the whole (geographical) trip and the ayahuasca experience itself?

What are the preparations/rituals like? In what symbolic/metaphorical terms is it presented?

In what ways do participants get into it? In what ways does it affect them in the following hours, days, weeks?

How different is it from other recreational substances like stimulants and depressants in terms of the ‘feeling’?

I used to do a little acid back in the day - more as a rare treat than a habit - and I never had any negative issues with them. I remember mostly just laughing my ass off. And, apparently, I cannot be beat at pool when I’m tripping (based on a two game run so it’s a narrow data-set, but I stand by it). The hallucinations I had were more along the lines of skewed perspective that I allowed myself to interpret in a trippy way. Colors seemed very, very technicolor, deep and vivid.

I was actually disappointed the few times I did it because I was wanting the full Lucy in the Sky experience. Then again maybe I didn’t do enough of it have had an effect on me.

It’s difficult to describe. It’s like everything you experience, including emotions and thoughts, is surreal. Stimulants are up, depressants are down, psychedelics are inside out.

With the exception of substances like MDMA or 2C-B which aren’t classical psychedelics, they’re a lot more mental than physical. They can cause confusion or hyperfocus more readily than stimulants and depressants.

As I mentioned above, you can’t count on them lifting you up like stimulants or mellowing you like depressants while they’re active. If you take them when you’re feeling sad, what’s most likely to happen is that you’ll be an order of magnitude sadder.

If you’re experiencing something pleasant though, it will also be an order of magnitude greater. It can turn a sunrise into an awe-inspiring sight. Playing Doom on LSD was something too.

Excellent information MichaelEmouse … I can only add that the more powerful psychedelics take a few days to completely wear off … remember, one first gets high, then one goes low …

Don’t know about dropping while depressed, it was more of a recreational thing for [del]me[/del] the folks who I’ve talked to …paranoia is a big problem, when chipmunks are eating your arm, you’ll have to smile and say “cool” and don’t get all panicky … and be away from the general public, it is illegal and people tend to think everyone around them knows they’re tripping … that can have a negative impact on the high …

Psychedelics are helpful in treating PTSD (as is cannabis, for much the same reasons) because it can allow you to think about the triggering experience without also engaging the limbic system and triggering the fight/flight response. Since when you’re tripping the closeness/relationship of “you” to everything else is much more arbitrary than when you’re straight, you can think about upsetting things without upset and put together new pathways to think about them that aren’t triggering–it’s like a crash course of CBT in the course of hours rather than weeks/months/years. Of course this arbitrary relationship thing can also get you to thinking that you’re not in your body or that food is talking to you as you eat it or that innocuous things are menacing, which is why if you’re not very experienced you really need a babysitter to keep you from going down the wrong rabbit hole.

LSD was used fairly extensively in psychotherapy back in the sixties before it was illegal, and there’s a group in Oregon trying to get the use of 'shrooms legalized for therapeutic use as well. There has been some encouraging evidence that psychedelics can be helpful in breaking addictions or preventing them altogether–anecdotally, I find it interesting that I’ve never been even close to being hooked on anything, not opioids, not speed, not nicotine, in spite of enough use that physical addiction should have been a concern and I credit my use of psychedelics as a teenager for some of my resistance.

The mindless prohibition of hallucinogens is just another stupidy policy that needs revisited. I mean, it’s just as fucking stupid to prohibit mushrooms and cactus as it is cannabis–they’re plants (and fungi) FFS. Get a grip.

I used psychedelics the way I used other drugs back in the 60’s and 70’s. I seldom abused them. I always used standard hits or less. I can’t say for sure it was the drugs but my personality changed radically during this period. Not so much a change as much as aspects of my personality that were repressed became more dominant and more dominant negative aspects became more repressed. I had 2 bad trips and in both cases speed was used with acid. As far as I know I was none the worse for wear. I would be in favor of supervised use of the drugs in a controlled environment by professionals but very much against just legalizing. Mushrooms, I would put very low on the list of enforcement.

And here it is, for the newbies who don’t have the search option yet.

This isn’t the cocaine thread.

I have enjoyed psilocybin mushrooms on occasion. The interesting visuals are a key draw. By comparison, IME, LSD is more harsh and more likely to cause me to regret having taken it.

Life transformations, help with depression? Not me, I just like to play around with reality.

Psilocybin (mushrooms) helped me when I was depressed. It didn’t even make the trip bad at the time, the setting in nature was so beautiful and safe. It can work as a huge a reset, reshaping your outlook on everything and restructuring how you understand connections between everything. It always leaves me with profound compassion for all that is. This beautiful, complex mess. And I am part of all that is, so there is compassion for me and all my perfect flaws.

I once stopped drinking for 6 months after LSD. It’s hard to explain why, I didn’t drink that much, it wasn’t a problem and it didn’t feature in my trip at all. But I just didn’t want alcohol in my body. It’s used for substance abuse with good results and I can absolutely imagine why.

One time we went went to an art installation on acid and as part of the exhibit activity I was elected leader of a group. We were in this trippy room where the chairs had lights in them (this was real, mind you) and I had to lead a discussion and deliver a final verdict to a person in a white coat (again, I swear this was just an art exhibit!) Well that was pretty challenging, lemme tell ya. But I did it! I led a really good discussion, summarised the various positions and worked it into one coherent message that I got everyone to agree on, then presented that to the people in white coats. At the end lots of people came up and said I had been a really good leader and had brought all their varying positions together into one message they could all support. They had no idea I was on acid. It’s honestly one of my proudest moments and I’m quite sad that I can’t mention it on my CV. I think “excellent leadership skills even when on acid” would look great. But I guess not to everyone.
This was on a museum dose, not really the dose you take for hard psychological work. But it was a cool experience. And in a way it’s exemplary of what psychedelics do: they make things more complicated but also, because you are looking at it in a new way, more simple. You aren’t using your usual toolkit for how to deal with situations you know, it’s like you have to invent it from scratch. Take a high enough dose and peeing becomes an incredibly complicated endeavour but also a profound learning experience. So acid both helped and hindered my leadership skills in that situation. It was extra hard for me to do, but I went outside my usual abilities. It’s hard to explain if you don’t know, I hope I’m making some level of sense here.

I did another good hard reset the weekend before last. Felt great, I remember the true depth of trees and the meaning of everything being connected again. It’ll last me for a while! Though tbh, I think psilocybin works a bit better on the internal stuff and longterm understanding of the beauty of all the world and the beauty of your own insignificance. It has a longer, more lasting afterglow.

(MichaelEmouse, I think I was going to keep you posted on my next trip? See the above, I guess :wink: )

I’ve taken mushrooms and acid on multiple occasions. It’s great fun. Like being very drunk, but everything is colorful, hilarious, and you don’t feel bad like you’re going to pass out or puke, and it lasts 6-8 hours or more. The hallucinations are often misunderstood. You don’t see realistic dragons or magical elves or enter some other fairy tale world. Just colors trailing movement and patterns superimposed over flat expanses like walls and curtains. Patterns which often look like they’re moving in place or “breathing”.

It’s not “life changing” unless you weren’t previously aware that consciousness is a chemical process that can be altered by chemical means. It really makes you think (more so afterwards than during) about the “big questions” like what is existence, what is the self, what is consciousness, and what does it mean to be alive. Many of those questions have been felt and pondered by totally sober people, however. There’s nothing about those questions that requires psychedelic drugs to ask or answer. Drugs do give you a new and unique perspective on them, however.

The now-deceased Dr. Oliver Sacks wrote a book, “Hallucinations” in which he details his experiences with psychedelics. I keep meaning to read it but never remember it when I’m in a book store. If someone as brilliant as he can find them useful… Listening to him being interviewed on NPR was fascinating.

Thanks for the questions, EricaRoche and MichaelEMouse. I’ll get to them as soon as I can. Work’s been kind of crazy for the last several days. Not as crazy as some psychedelic experiences are, but crazy enough to pull me away from this thread for a bit.

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Michael Pollan just wrote a book about this: How to Change Your Mind.


Good read. I have no relevant experience, unfortunately.

In my teens early twenties, I tripped as often as humanly possible.

I never had a ‘life transformation’…but I always had a good time.