The New York Times just featured an article in its Sunday Magazine (4/22/12) on the effectiveness of a psychedelic drug in quelling fear and anxiety in patients facing death. It talked about psilocybin (the psychoactive agent in magic mushrooms), and how it helped 12 anxious/fearful/depressed people find a peace that allowed them to enjoy the time they had left.
This is not new information; thousands of papers have been published about the beneficial effects of psychedelic drug therapy involving tens of thousands of patients suffering from addictions, stress disorders, depression, and end-of-life anxiety. I have been a strong supporter of the use of these drugs at end-of-life ever since I prescribed Ketamine for a patient dying with metastatic cancer ( https://www.healingdoc.com/blogs/2012/04/seeing-in-the-dying-light-a-ketamine-case-study). He was an angry, anxious 62 year-old man with liver cancer that had spread; his experience with Ketamine was very much the same as the patients described in the NYT Magazine article. My patient came into a consciousness that allowed him to appreciate the remainder of his days. (You can read the whole story in my book Kindling Spirit).
The real question is whether one needs to be dying in order to find such peace? I’ve worked with Native Americans for most of my professional life and can tell you that the most effective treatment program for alcoholism among American Indians has been participation in the Native American Church, which uses peyote as its holy sacrament. Studies are now being conducted on the use of psychedelics in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorders, chronic depressions, and acute anxiety states. With professional/ceremonial supervision I can see psychedelic assisted therapy as an adjunct in couples therapy, and with teenagers in identity crises…(the problem of course is the potential for its abuse.)
At the very least, I strongly believe that we need to make these drugs more available at least in palliative care settings. They should be a standard part of the choices available to patients in hospice care. At the end of our lives, psychedelic therapy can provide a light at the end of the tunnel.
If you want to pursue this subject further, join me at the next Schlagbyte Webinar Thursday, May 17 at 5 PM on the West Coast 8 PM and the East Coast.
You can also submit questions before the webinar to firstname.lastname@example.org.