LSD Medical Trials? Meet ‘Rick’, He Trips For Science
For our readers, our interview today is with a reader just like you, a 59 year old Male from Illinois who has been a subject in LSD medical trials for the treatment of depression. Thank you for agreeing to provide us with your thoughts today, I know this can be a very personal subject and I want you to know that our readers are privileged to have you talk about your experience with us today.
A: My pleasure
Question: You have been advocating for the clinical administration of psychedelics and against self-administration. What is the motive behind this?
A: My first contact with psychedelics was influenced by peer pressure and started on the street where we bought psychedelic substances from illegal sources and took indiscriminately. I had regular trip experiences experimenting on different kinds of hallucinogens. Of course, it was fun at the beginning until I had a very bad experience that ended up in the emergency room.
I took a high dose of LSD at home in the company of three friends. While that wasn’t my first LSD experience, it was the first time I would take as much as 120 micrograms (which probably doesn’t seem like a lot for people who know). About 30 to 40 minutes later, the effects kicked in, I lost control of my senses and became aggressive, destroying everything in the house and attacking my friends. I was later overpowered and rushed to the hospital, where I was given a sedative.
After that horrible experience, I started reading up so I could better understand how to safely continue my habit without hurting anyone, and that’s when I learned that in a controlled environment, the drug can be administered much more safely, because they’ve done the math – how much I weigh, how much I can tolerate based on my regular usage, etc. Basically, I could continue to take it, but if I dosed myself, there was always a chance that I would make a mistake and put my life in jeopardy.
Question: Can you describe both experiences – buying psychedelics through the illegal market and getting it in a clinic trial?
A: The two experiences are incomparable. I mean, when you buy psychedelics in the illegal market, the transaction is simple – buyer gets high and seller gets profit. It allows many young people to experiment with psychedelics without any consideration for safety. I know several people that have had very dangerous experiences like mine – like honestly, your dealer doesn’t care if you die, other than that they just lost a customer. Remember, you don’t always know what you’re buying either. I heard about this study that found that some mushroom-based supplements are actually just store-bought mushrooms laced with a different hallucinogen or another drug entirely. So it’s definitely dangerous – even if you know and trust your source, THEY may not know what they’re buying either. A fake product, or taking too much, or too little, too quickly, can end up making your condition worse instead of better, and of course, nothing good ever came out of an overdose. There is also the possibility of experiencing hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), which is pretty serious and causes flashbacks to your bad trips, sometimes frequently. HPPD can last for years and may require urgent medical attention – not something to take lightly.
In an LSD clinical trial, it’s patient safety first. Before administering the psychedelic treatments, there are consultations and tests to confirm that the treatment is appropriate for the patient. There is all kinds of medical equipment to scan for adverse effects in real time, helping to prevent damage and overseeing your response to the treatment. And there are certain post-treatment precautions and follow-ups to ensure you get a good result.
Question: Some people say they buy psychedelics illegally because they imagine getting them from clinics is expensive. Do you think they have a point?
A: No, I don’t agree with that school of thought. If I told you had a 10% chance of being dead but you’d save $1,000, would you do it? What’s worth risking your life for? You see, I used to have the same sentiment before my bad trip experience. I think the issue is, when you’re trying to get high, you’re not really thinking about the risks, or may not know what they are, so it’s hard to weight those costs against the savings. But having said that, with the exception of ketamine, all psychedelics are still at the clinical trial stage.
Question: Any advice for people that are still getting psychedelics from illegal sources?
A: I would advise them not to wait until they had a bad experience – because it’s probably just a matter of time – before changing that approach.
Question: Some people believe that psychedelics are a new hope in the treatment of mental conditions. Do you agree with them?
A: Yes. Psychedelics have shown great promise, especially for various kinds of treatment-resistant disorders – offering new hope for people who were on the verge of giving up on ever living a healthy life again. I wouldn’t characterize myself as suffering a severe case, but in the trials I participated in, I definitely saw an improvement in my mood and stability after the treatments. Many PSTD patients have reported being cured. For people in this category, where standard and accepted treatments are failing to help, psychedelics are not just ordinary medicines; they’re hope.
Question: What changes would you like to see in the psychedelic industry?
A: I would like to see an end to the stigmatization of psychedelics in general. They can have such a profound impact on the lives of people suffering from terrible mental illnesses and disorders. There is a growing global awareness about psychedelics, which is encouraging. But most people still consider hallucinogens to be appropriate for hippies and parties only.
With more and more research, we’re moving closer and closer to the day that these products enter the medical mainstream. Some are already there; I know that Special K got FDA approval and psilocybin received breakthrough status. I heard that the Israeli government has approved a “Compassionate Use” program for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat PTSD. The Netherlands is pretty progressive on this as well (not surprising). And many other countries are starting to follow suit. So all encouraging progress, but there’s a long way to go.