As a kid, I like many others remember D.A.R.E. officers visiting my elementary school to teach us all about the horrors of drugs. Just say no, don’t do drugs, all drugs are bad. Nuance was nowhere to be found in this sort of messaging. A lot of the information delivered was patently false as well.
For example, many states have since legalized cannabis not only medicinally, but recreationally as well. So clearly cannabis isn’t as big of a scary “ruin your life” drug as it was made out to be to myself and other kids back in the late 90s and early 2000s.
Other drugs are becoming increasingly more likely to follow this path of legalization as well now, including the most important and groundbreaking of all in my opinion… psychedelics. If you want to know why, or more about what psychedelics are and how they work, all you have to do is check out the documentary series How to Change Your Mind on Netflix, which serves as an adaptation of the fantastic book of the same title from Michael Pollan.
Recommended Watch: How to Change Your Mind on Netflix
Documentaries may not be your personal go-to, but if you or someone you love has ever struggled with mental illness or addiction, this series in particular is a must-watch, major eye-opener.
How to Change Your Mind doesn’t just broach the surface layers of the subject of psychedelics as therapy, it gives the matter a legitimate scientific and well-researched voice to reference; one that’s easy for just about anyone to soak in, no reading required. This, more than anything else, is what’s needed to help carve out a path of legalization for psychedelics as a medicine and form of therapy.
As shown in the documentary, psychedelics have the almost miraculous ability to help break people from the closed, restrictive cycles they find themselves trapped in. For example, the cycle of addiction with things like alcohol. In fact, the documentary talks about how Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was actually inspired by his own experiences with psychedelics.
I found that one of the more eye-opening facts in the documentary, along with one of the main reasons for them being illegal tracing back to Nixon. I suppose that shouldn’t be a surprise to me given how much of an embarrassment Nixon was. But again, growing up I was never given any sort of straightforward information about these substances or access to methods of finding that information.
Addiction is also just one of many examples of how psychedelic therapy can help ease a lot of the suffering that’s becoming more and more common in the world. Other examples of ways psychedelic therapy can be beneficial include it being used to help ease the fear of death among terminally ill patients, such as those dying of cancer, and used to help give those struggling with a myriad of different mental health ailments, such as veterans suffering from severe PTSD.
In the documentary, it’s also shown how psychedelics can potentially help those suffering from illnesses like OCD and depression. On the latter, I have personal experience with this and it’s partially why I’m so passionate about the subject. I won’t dig too much into that as I’m a very private person and this is still a taboo topic, all things considered. All I’ll say is it's definitely something worth doing proper research about.
Also, something about the topic that gets me particularly heated, is if psychedelics could help ease suffering and potentially reduce the rate of suicide that’s been steadily increasing over the years, why are we as a society not doing everything in our power to study them, test them, and eventually decriminalize/legalize them for medicinal use?
I don’t know… but personally I hope that sometime in my lifetime I live to see psychedelics explored more by science and medical researchers, especially in ways where the information can be shared with the general public. The more people are able to understand these substances, and the easier it becomes to access approachable information about them like Michael Pollan's "How to Change Your Mind," the less taboo they'll become. Hopefully.
As a very important disclaimer to end this article with, I am not a medical professional. Please do not take my recommendation of watching How to Change Your Mind from Michael Pollan on Netflix, or positive commentary on psychedelics in general, as medical advice. Always talk to your doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist if you’re considering exploring new methods of treatment or therapy.
I’ll also add that if you’d like to learn more about the subject from different angles and areas of expertise, consider checking out the works of mycologist Paul Stamets as well as the late, great ethnobotanist, Terence McKenna.