Prescription psychodelics: A Solution to the Opiate Epidemic?

Dosed

Directed by Jason Wade Hammonds (2019)

Film Review

This is a fascinating film about a Canadian heroin addict who faces the bleak choice between killing herself and seeking treatment with illegal psychodelic drugs. She has already tried several rounds of residential drug treatment and every psychotropic drug available. At the start of the documentary, she is relapsing several times a month despite being on Methadone maintenance, which makes her tired and depressed.

She initially starts with increasing doses of psilocybin (magic mushrooms), both in informal settings and under the supervision of counselors in specialized clinics.  Although the drug temporarily alleviates her anxiety and panic attacks (her main complaints), the effect dissipates after a few days and she relapses.

She eventually gains admittance to a Ibogaine* treatment center, where she attempts to detox off Methadone and heroin over a period of two weeks. The Ibogaine is believed to work in two ways: 1) by reactivating endogenous brain opiate receptors that have been shut down by the heroin and Methadone and 2) by helping patients connect (in a supportive environment) with original traumatic events that triggered the addition.

She takes two doses of Ibogaine five days apart. On day nine she has a massive panic attack, relapses and is started back on 80 mg long acting morphine (easier to detox from than Methadone) a day. She is then admitted her for a third Ibogaine dose to help her detox off the morphine.

Four months later she is totally off all all opiates and receiving monthly mega dose psilocybin or Ibogaine (in a therapeutic setting) to control the panic attacks. After seven months, the panic attacks are under control with monthly microdosing with Ibogaine and/or psilocybin

After 12 months she is totally of opiates and volunteering full time working with patients with mental health and addiction problems.

The film features many prominent psychodelics researchers and practitioners, including Dr Gabor Mate, who interviews her to assess her suitability for psychodelic treatment. There seems to be consensus among researchers that psilocybin, MDMA (ecstasy) and Ibogaine will be the first psychodelics the US government licenses for prescription.


*Ibogaine is currently licensed for prescription in Canada for heroin withdrawal.

The full film can be viewed free on Kanopy.

 

 

 

Psychodelics and Plant Medicine

Psyched Out: Documentary on Psychodelics and Plant Medicine

Directed by Giovani Bartolomeo (2018)

Film Review

The first video below is a documentary based mainly on the work of the late Terrence McKenna, a US ethnobotanist who was one of the first to investigate the healing effects of psychodelic plants. The film also features contemporary psychodelics advocates Dr Gabor Mate and British author and journalist Graham Hancock. The second video concerns a bank robber who was trained as an ayahuasca* shaman by a fellow prisoner.

Psyched Out begins by tracing the history of psychodelic use in healing and religious ceremonies. DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) was widely used by ancient Egyptians. McKenna believes Moses was under the influence of DMT when the burning bush spoke to him. He also suggests the forbidden fruit Adam and Eve ate in the Garden of Eden was actually the amanita mushroom. He also also sees a fundamental role for psylocybin in the supercharged evolution of the human brain occurring 15,000 – 20,000 years ago.

Between 3,000 – 1,500 BC, the use of psychodelics in healing and religious ceremonies occurred in all major civilizations. It ended in Western civilization in the 4th century AD with the Roman emperor Constantine’s formalization of the Catholic Church as a political body. Beginning with European colonization in the 15th century, psychodelics were banned nearly everywhere in the world.

McKenna and others believe the early church banned psychodelics because their role in expanding consciousness (ie these plants make people aware of their unconscious processes) leads people to question their fundamental beliefs about authority and their role in society.

For me the most interesting part of the film were the testimonials given by three patients who took ayahuasca and experienced total remission of longstanding opiate addiction, panic disorder/insomnia, and incapacitating scleroderma.**

I was also intrigued to learn of important discoveries and inventions directly related to psychodelic use, including the DNA double helix, the polymerase chain reaction, and several of Steve Jobs’ innovative Apple products.


*Ayahuasca is a hallucinatory tea made from a plant and vine containing DMT.

** Scleroderma is a group of autoimmune diseases that may result in changes to the skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs. The disease can be either localized to the skin or involve both skin and other organs.

Kentucky Ayahuasca Episode 7

Vice (2019)

Film Review

I normally hate reality TV, but that was before I watched Kentucky Ayahuasca. Steve Hupp offers two-day Ayahuasca ceremonies with his wife and two apprentice therapist With 15 years experience, he boasts an 80% success rate for refractory PTSD, depression, and addiction and bipolar disorders.

Although, as a Schedule 1 drug, ayahuasca is illegal in the US, Native Americans are allowed to use it in religious ceremonies. Hupp calls his church the Aya Quest Native American church.

Readers can view the entire Kentucky Ayahuasca series at

https://video.vice.com/en_us/show/kentucky-ayahuasca