Do you know the mushroom man?
Read Sober Psychonaut disclaimer for people in sobriety exploring psychedelic medicine
Erik Fenderson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Last weekend in New York tripping my way to Phoenix, I bought mushrooms of the magic variety from a menu via text and sidewalk delivery out of what looked like a pizza delivery bag. God, the guy was so sweet and courteous, describing my options, the different strains as it were, like weed, depending on the type of experience I wanted to have.
“And oh by the way, this is my new runner Sam, he’s gonna take good care of you. I just wanted you to get to know him.”
“Hey,” I said, looking furtively up and down the street, still grappling with whether it was okay to order psychedelic products off a menu and have them delivered to your doorstep within 30 minutes.
Mushroom magic becoming real
Psilocybin, the active ingredient in mushrooms that causes the “trip” is gaining popularity on the fringes within certain mental health circles and has been legalized in states like Massachusetts, California, Oregon and Washington State, and remarkably, Washington, DC, with the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act. (Here's the lowdown on mushroom legality state-by-state.) And although I was breaking the law, clearly no law enforcement in New York City had an interest in my purchase of psilocybin strains of Amazonian or Penis Envy on a Sunday night in midtown Manhattan outside my friend’s house.
This whole legalization and coming to terms with psychedelic medicine as legitimate, nonaddictive, beneficial for all sorts of neuroses and maladies and ultimately, profoundly spiritually enlightening, is something I’ve known all along. It’s just that getting sober, putting down alcohol, usually goes along with putting down drugs.
You can’t exactly walk into an AA room and say, “Hey, I’ve been sober 30+ years but I’m working through some shit with magic mushrooms.”
Yet—that’s exactly what’s happening. It works for addiction issues and beyond. It’s what’s possible and now it’s looking to be what’s probable.
You can’t exactly walk into an AA room and say, “Hey, I’ve been sober 30+ years but I’m working through some shit with magic mushrooms."
Psilocybin therapy session at Johns Hopkins - Matthew W. Johnson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Psychedelics aren't addictive: Here's why
It comes back to the experience produced by the drug vs. the drug itself.
Psychedelic drugs are unlike cocaine, for example, which produces desirable effects like euphoria, energy, clarity, excitement, but also disrupts seratonin, a nerve transmitter that affects mood, among other things, thus producing an experience the brain wants to replicate because it’s so good. Therefore, it’s addictive. The brain, the body wants more. And you can use it to some extent while still functioning normally in your life.
With psilocybin, or LSD (acid) or MDMA (ecstasy) for that matter, a journey or experience begins and ends within a certain time period. It is not sustainable, nor have they found in lab experiments do animals go back for more psilocybin. There is no addictive quality to the drug itself. Essentially, you could have one such psychedelic experience and have a profound transformative experience and never desire to have another.
Malenacd, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
On the other hand, you could have that experience and find it so seductive you desire to delve further into the realms of human consciousness and spirituality to see where it takes you. Plus, it’s just fun, and well—magical.
I’m particularly intrigued by this idea that psychedelics—and let’s just throw ketamine in there, too—give us access to an alternate universe, a world, a reality, a being-ness that exists in parallel with us at all times but we have filtered it out, diluted it to the point where we only see what we need to see to get through life. But there’s this brilliant-ness that is there all around us—maybe akin to the magic and wonder a child experiences or like a baby seeing things for the first time.
What an amazing opportunity to experience joy, wonder, fascination and profound love for self, others, the world—through psychedelic experience.
I am increasingly drawn to all aspects of it. I don’t know where it’s taking me but I’m ready for the ride. I know there’s something very right about it.
My ketamine therapy:
Navigating the psychedelic medicine universe as a sober person