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Can I Use Mushrooms to Treat My Depression if I Can’t Afford Therapy?

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Can I Use Mushrooms to Treat My Depression if I Can’t Afford Therapy?

I want to treat my depression but can’t afford therapy. I’ve heard mushrooms are super helpful. Is there a special way to do them that focuses on treating depression?

This is a hot-button question right now! Researchers around the world are working feverishly to determine what, exactly, is the cause of psilocin’s antidepressant effects. Is it the mystical experience? The serotonin agonism? The neurogenesis? Is there an entourage effect? So much to consider!

For some people, just the act of consuming mushrooms is helpful for their depression. This might be due to a reduction of blood flow to the default mode network, a neural network that’s responsible for biographical thinking/rumination. Others find more benefit when the experience itself holds some kind of meaning.

As far as I know, current research seems to suggest that more mystical experiences lend themselves to higher reductions in depressive symptoms. You can’t ask the mushrooms for a mystical experience, though – that’s the beauty of it! Part of taking psychedelics is relinquishing control over the outcome of your day. You have to be willing to be uncomfortable, a practice which is therapeutic in and of itself.

Additionally, I personally find mushrooms particularly useful for learning to work with yourself, not against yourself. When you’re in such a vulnerable and suggestible mind-state, you are put in a position where you are forced to try different things to see what works for you. To me, this is an invaluable opportunity to rewire existing rigid behaviors and experiment with self care. It may be helpful to keep this at the front of your mind during the trip. Working with yourself is a powerful intention-setting tool.

Arguably the most therapeutically important part of a psychedelic experience is the integration: the practice of intentionally bringing new lessons into your daily life. There are an increasing number of resources available on integration. Off the top of my head I suggest Trip App, which is designed for people who can’t access therapy, and a workbook for psychedelic integration entitled Beyond the Narrow Life that I haven’t read and can’t vouch for outside of having seen someone else vouch for it. It might be worth checking out so that you can proceed with a little more structure. 

You can also find integration circles like those hosted by your local Psychedelic Society chapter, or The Ancestor Project (BIPOC only). There are specialized integration circles for OCD, autism, and a variety of other mental health conditions.

Otherwise, you might just want to play around with different modes of consumption. There are so many ways in which psychedelics can produce experiences that have antidepressant effects, either directly or indirectly! Alone, with friends, inside, outside, sunny, rainy, light, dark, painful, euphoric, talkative, quiet, lemon tek, orange juice, straight shrooms, mushroom chocolates, capsules, 4-AcO-DMT, microdoses, macrodoses… it’s all very experimental. No two psychedelic experiences are identical. There’s so much to learn about yourself!

If my friends and I are in a “cuddle puddle” and snuggling together while doing drugs, what steps should we take to make sure that everyone is safe if we fall asleep? I don’t want someone to get hurt at my party while everyone else is napping.

Whenever you’re hosting a party where drugs are involved, I suggest keeping a whiteboard or sheet of paper where everyone writes down the time and dose of any substances they consume. This provides an easy and effective way of tracking what went wrong if someone gets sick, and allows you to check interactions and comedown times. 

I’d say that one of the biggest risks in a sleepy cuddle puddle is the consumption of depressants like alcohol, benzos (benzodiazepines), or opioids. If someone is super drunk, slurring, or otherwise not lucid, it is not a good idea for everyone to fall asleep until that person’s state has been evaluated and responded to. 

For example, someone who is extremely drunk should be a) placed in the recovery position to prevent choking if they vomit, and b) monitored for alcohol poisoning. Verbally check in with the group every 30-60 minutes to see if anyone feels sick or is clearly very intoxicated.

Note that it is particularly dangerous to combine multiple depressants (e.g. Xanax with alcohol. Anyone who has ingested this combination should be monitored by the group to make sure their breathing and heart rate do not slow too much. You might want to look into snagging a pulse oximeter to aid in this. Ideally, have a group discussion about what people are planning on taking before everyone doses. You may want to have one or two people designated to stay up for a while and keep tabs on everyone after they’ve fallen asleep.

If everyone’s rolling, being in a hot pile of humans increases the risk of overheating. Overheating is arguably the biggest danger of MDMA, as it may cause serious physical effects (like seizures or coma) and/or exaggerate MDMA’s neurotoxicity. Cuddle puddles don’t generally get you as hot as dancing in a packed warehouse – in a cuddle puddle you’re not very likely to overheat to the point of seizing. 

If someone has taken a large dose, is wearing warm clothes (like a onesie), or is visibly sweating, however, they should probably not be covered in 99-degree bodies. I advise staying as cool as possible while rolling to reduce the risks of MDMA toxicity from hyperthermia.

Is it safe to mix psychedelics or ketamine with prescription pain relievers like vicodin or muscle relaxers?

As far as I’m aware, classical psychedelics (LSD, mushrooms, DMT, mescaline) don’t generally have significant interactions with opioids. These kinds of questions are tricky, though, because when you’re looking at combinations you really need to be looking at the specific drugs. Take DMT, for example. Mixing DMT with an MAOI will prolong the experience, a desirable effect for many people. Mixing 5-MeO-DMT with an MAOI, however, can cause lethal toxicity according to a mixture of anecdotal reports and scientific literature. 

This is also applicable to tramadol, which is technically a “pain reliever” but also possesses a myriad of other pharmacological properties. Tramadol has more interactions than most other drugs I can think of. In addition to being an opioid agonist, it’s also an SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor), has activity at multiple acetylcholine receptors, and does a whole bunch of additional granular stuff. There are lots of anecdotal reports of people having seizures or experiencing serotonin syndrome from mixing tramadol and LSD. 

The same applies to ketamine: which drug are you trying to mix it with? How much of each drug are you intending to consume? Ketamine doesn’t depress your breathing or heart rate like opioids do, and it’s commonly co-administered with opioids during surgery. I hesitate to suggest that this combination can be tried at home, though, because accidentally enhancing an opioid’s sedative effects through some obscure mechanism can be life-threatening. 

Even if your heart rate and breathing aren’t significantly depressed, losing consciousness and choking on vomit remains a risk. Interactions can be very difficult to trace from start to finish. Do you know which liver enzymes break down the drugs you’re using? Do you know whether there’s a substrate/inhibitor interaction? Do you know whether the metabolites interact? Are you on any OTC (over-the-counter) medications? Everything adds up.

In summary, you need to look at the individual drugs in question to determine the risks of mixing them. If you really want to mix opioids and ketamine, do it with supervision and make sure that you start very low and go very slow. You’ll also need to pay particular attention to any additional interactions that may come from OTC or psychiatric medications. 

As for psychedelics, interactions with opioids depend on the pharmacology of the specific substances you’re using, but will likely be less of a concern than with ketamine – with the major exception of tramadol, and possibly other substances. And as for “muscle relaxants,” this phrase encompasses a wide variety of drugs that is too large a topic for me to address without more specificity.

About Your Psychedelic Auntie

When we have questions about psychedelics, we often consult our Auntie. An Auntie can be a person of any gender who offers wise advice about psychedelic substances and how to effectively use them. Lucid News is asking a collection of well-informed people to step in as Auntie and answer your questions about psychedelics. Some of the best peer-based, accurate information about psychedelic substances and harm reduction comes from DanceSafe, a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1998. DanceSafe provides health and safety services at festivals and events. This month, our Psychedelic Auntie is DanceSafe Programs and Communications Coordinator Rachel Clark. Send your questions to the Psychedelic Auntie via the Lucid News contact page and watch this space for the answers.

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