By Tina Lalonde
Chances are, you are at home with a lot of free time on your hands, and perhaps that time can be used for self-reflection and new experiences. Should psychedelics be one of them? I’m not here to judge, only to inform and to guide, which is why I have conducted three interviews with avid psychedelic users in order to better understand the ways that psychoactive drugs can affect a person’s behaviour and way of thinking during and after a trip.
According to the American Psychological Association, “mental health issues have increased significantly over the last decade.” This fact goes to show that younger generations in particular can benefit from psychedelic experimentation. In recent years, more and more studies have been conducted on the effects of psychedelic drugs on the human mind and all the ways they can potentially benefit people suffering from severe mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Neuroscientist Roland Griffiths writes that “large [doses] of psilocybin can induce mystical experiences in volunteers, including feelings of ego dissolution, a sense of revelation, ineffability and transcendence of time and space.” Positive effects are not limited to large doses. Microdosing – a technique in which a user takes a very small and barely noticeable dosage anywhere between once to a few times a week for a prolonged period of time– is also an effective way to treat mental health symptoms, boost creativity, and increase open mindedness. But of course, these methods are not without potential drawbacks. So, it is extremely important to be informed on these topics before jumping into a potentially life-altering experience.
My first interview was with Dean Simottas, a close friend of mine who has experienced many hallucinogenic trips. He described his experience on magic mushrooms as being like “a filter over your world. Colours are more vibrant, things are wavier, and sounds reverberate.” For him, mushrooms were almost always enjoyable. His widened eyes paced around his warmly lit room in order to remember clearly. His hands motioned along with his words like he was conducting a symphony. He described his experience on LSD as being more “energizing.” Upon asking about his DMT trip, his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. “If the first two are a lazy river boat ride, this is a rocket ship to space,” he says. Finally, I asked him what he learnt from his experiences, to which he replied that he became more “open minded to topics like spirituality” and “things that can’t be explained by science.”
My second interview was with a coworker, Nikolas, another avid psychedelic user. He told me about 2-CB, a rare but “amazing” psychedelic. According to him, its uniqueness lies in the mental clarity you continue to have in spite of the sensory stimulation and changes in perception. “Me and my friend Jamie both hallucinated an owl in the ceiling” he said with a wide grin. His frequent smiling and laughing tells me he enjoys reminiscing on these experiences. He was tranquil, well-spoken. I asked if these trips changed his outlook on life in any way, to which he replied that it “expanded [his] understanding of human perception. We get locked predominantly in sight and touch, and our understanding of the world is uniquely tied to our physiology, but there’s a lot of things out there that we don’t understand.”
Lastly, I facetimed with Matthew Bergamin, a friend and student in the Social Studies program at Dawson. “How do you like to spend your psychedelic trips?” I asked. Matthew, with a joint in the corner of his cracked lips, says that he enjoys being outside. “I just sat on my porch looking at my neighbourhood, which is not something I ever do. It brought me to the present moment, made me wonder when was the last time I took a shower and was actually in the shower.” LSD in particular taught him the importance of “seeing the bigger picture,” and “overthinking less.” “Everything started to look more alive. The waves in my painting were really moving, like an animation. It also made me really get into Pink Floyd.”
As for their advice on how to ensure a safe, enjoyable trip, each and every one of them said to “be with people you trust,” and “be in a safe place.” Dean emphasized to make sure that you are not neglecting any responsibilities beforehand, Nikolas highlighted the importance of giving yourself time to recover before getting back to real life, and according to Matthew, “don’t be around too many sober people, they’ll sketch you out.”