Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Screw Apples

If researchers have a say, you could soon be hallucinating your way to better health.

"Scientists are taking a new look at hallucinogens, which became taboo among regulators after enthusiasts like Timothy Leary promoted them in the 1960s with the slogan “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Now, using rigorous protocols and safeguards, scientists have won permission to study once again the drugs’ potential for treating mental problems and illuminating the nature of consciousness."- New York Times, front page article 4/12/10

Rexella would certainly not approve.

For me though, the jury's still out.

Having lived a past life as a satisfied and delighted consumer of hallucinogens, and a present life as a substance abuse counselor, I feel conflicted as to what outcomes I would ideally like this research to produce.

The 'Counselor' Thinks...
My mind immediately darts to and scans the comparison of hallucinogens to marijuana as a potential medicinal substance.

At the agency I toil for, we do not currently test for THC on our toxicology panel. Why? It's hella expensive, THC stays in the system for-ev-er, and we are far more concerned about substances that can actively kill or literally physically debiliate an individual, which (surpriiiise!) marijuana does not.

Also, the apparent slow and steady legalization (read: legislative indifference)of marijuana as both a medicinal and recreational substance is definitely of note. (You can find an enlightening recent article regarding this state of the Union here at the Economist.) At the agency I work for, we medicate all opiate-dependent clients with a medication called methadone*.

Now - just like with marijuana, some people take advantage of this medication, some don't. Although it's prescribed purpose is not the same. For some methadone is a 'miracle' medication that can bring those individuals in the throes of addiction back from a lifetime in the judicial and state systems. But, even those who take it and benefit from it's intended purpose are conflicted about taking it on a regular basis. Like my grandmother with Advil, some people are wary about taking something, anything that will alter their chemistry, even if it is basically inert and assists them in living a more productive life.

What might people think about a mind altering medication? Like hallucinogens? Who would be first in line? Would people who have never walked the line and used any substances even want to take it? Would it only be for those who want to work the system to get legal grade hallucinogens?

I give up. There are too many variables as the counselor. I'm sitting here, head spinning like Linda Blair from the Exorcist. Pea soup is threatening to spew out of my face at any minute, so lets go to a happier place.

The 'Consumer' Thinks:
Young Rainey sobs at the inherent beauty of disintegrating fall leaves in the dewy dirt as she stands listening to the trunk of a grand, statuesque oak tree. She breaths in and out. In and out. In and in and in and out. Feels at one with the world. She decides to bathe herself with the leaves and laughs with joy at how everything seems as one. Laughs to hear her laughter. Gets 'stuck' in her head and is rescued by her beloved friend stretching out to offer a piece of sticky crystalized ginger. Oh goodness. It is like a universe dancing on her taste buds....

Safe to say that 'Consumer' Rainey is all for hallucinogens becoming a bigger part of our lives.

Thank you for sticking with this rambling post. And be assured I was on no hallucinogens while creating it. White wine on the other hand is another story...

*Please feel free to ask me questions at any time about methadone, because it is quite misunderstood in our society and I would like to educate and be a conduit for decreasing undeserved negative stigma wherever possible.


  1. A very thought provoking post. I imagine that in your field of work you would have a more realistic awareness of the lies and truth behind drug use and its consequences.

    Also have to say that your paragraph on hallucigens was particularly beautiful.

  2. As someone who hallucinates several times a day I'm not thrilled by this news. I'm not sure why anyone would really *want* to live like me, or how it could be helpful. However, I can understand that people are curious about what it's like.

    Is it the substance itself or the hallucinations that is said to be beneficial? I hope it's the hallucinations. That would mean I'm badassly healthy.

  3. Ohh hot topic to touch on! I have always been fearful of even touching anything that is a hallucinagenic, my mind is sneaky withouth adding drugs to the mixture. As for Mary Jane? I bet that bitch is legal within the next 20 years.

  4. Hmmm -- I'm not sure what to think about using drugs to treat mental problems. Could that be just throwing gas onto the flame? Hopefully their are smarter, more studious people than me that would make sure the proper controls were in place and and knew what they were doing...I'm sorta' doubtful.

    Sudafed is my limit as far as drugs go...but I'm certainly not against legalizing marijuana. Old coots like me would really think they are getting away with something to actually have a legal joint in between their fingers.

    I found that you are the 28th follower on my blog -- and got pretty excited and had to see who you were. I see I found gold.

  5. When I saw the title of this post I totally thought it was going to be all about your weird fruit allergies.
    I wish we tripped out together. I wan to roll in the leaves with my pea soup-spewing FACE!

  6. @LAHT: You'd think so...I'd think so too. But then I sit down and write a post about it and all logic goes out the window. I feell like I can attribute it to the fact that I have had the experience of interacting with so many individuals struggling with substance abuse problems. What I have learned is this: Addiction is a baffling and cunning disease. It is often fatal. And most importantly that addiction does not have a face. It is the business man from a Fortune 500 company just as much as the homeless person on the park bench.

    Sorry. *gets off soap box*

    @Shinxy: I think you are quite healthy! In some countries, having hallucinations is revered and considered a spiritual experience. My clients who experience active delusions and hallucinations I find are often the most enlightening to speak to. You have experiences out of the normal realm of human consciousness, and that makes you unique. I have been very curious about hallucinations and what my mind is capable of, and this was my impetus to experiment with hallcinogens in the past.

    According to my loose interpretation of the article, the hallucinations allow individuals to experience an almost trancendental state of spirituality. I can attest to feeling just that, and can see why psylocibin would be beneficial to some people. Place stress on the 'some'.

    @Chicken: Ha! My mind likes to try to be sneaky. I call the two sides of my brain 'Angry Brain' and 'Happy Brain' and they fight often like an old married couple. Also, I'm super happy about the marijuana legalization. Could this mean a more mellow America?

    @Jerry: Currently marijuana is being used to treat 'mental problems'. The issue I take with this is that so many people can easily fake mental health symptoms to get a Rx. In the case of marijuana, this is not such a problem. However, in the case of 'legal' prescribed substances, such as benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, etc) the consequences of an individual with no inherent mental health issues starting a regular prescription for recreational reasons can be deadly and lead to a lifetime of addiction, health problems and potentially seizures. Sorry. I need to stop rambling on the comments.

    Thanks for checking my blog out! I thought I had followed you awhile ago when you wrote the recipe post about cherry cream cheese deliciousness. Apparently I was so distracted by my enjoyment of your post, I forgot to follow. Glad we found one another! Welcome to my rambles!

    @Jordan: This post is not about the crazy allergies. It is about the crazy Rain FACE. Can't wait for refills.

  7. hmmmm. I feel that way about trees all the time. Guess I can pass on the hallucinogens. I do love the wine, though.

  8. As long as you're on the subject...


    I assure you, these links are not to be taken as an endorsement of the recreational use of hallucinogens...
    Love your blog!