Drugs & Therapy? Here is everything you need to know
Psychedelic assisted psychotherapy has been around since the dawn of human consciousness. In fact, some believe that psychedelic plants were an important part of human evolution. Indigenous cultures the world over have used plant medicine to seek spiritual and personal enlightenment, guidance and connection. Essentially, this is nothing new. Early scientific research on using psychedelics in therapy ended in 1970 as the Controlled Substances Act became law. Federal funding ended and the approval process became more restrictive. Beyond federal law, public perception of psychedelic substances shifted as well and interest waned as we began to label all psychedelic drugs as harmful. Politics aside, perception is shifting once again and research has begun anew. At Wild and Wonderful Life, we are aligned with the perspective that the world is not black and white, rather that everything is helpful or harmful depending on the context. In the context of therapy, psychedelic substances are proving to be safe, effective and life saving for many who have lost hope.
So why now? Research in the United States has historically focused on mental health and personal discovery, and the reason we have this extraordinary chance is because of the efforts of MAPS: the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies. Founded by Rick Doblin in 1983, MAPS has been a driving force, tirelessly working to bring forward this modern psychedelic renaissance. MAPS research has focused on the use of MDMA, commonly know as Ecstasy or Molly, to treat PTSD. Results show a significant decrease in symptoms compared to therapy alone. Similar research into Psilocybin, Ibogaine, Ketamine and Cannabis show equally promising results.
Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) & Cannabis-Assisted Psychotherapy With over 50 years of medical use, Ketamine has a track record of safety when used with supervision. Commonly known as "Special K," Ketamine is an anesthetic drug that emerged first as a treatment for depression. The current, most probable, understanding of Ketamine’s mode of action is as an NMDA antagonist working through the glutamate neurotransmitter system. At the dosage level we use in a therapy session, clients experience analgesic (numbing), anxiolytic (anxiety reducing), antidepressant, and psychedelic effects. Ketamine also may bring about “transpersonal,” “mystical,” or “out-of-body” experiences that may also facilitate a shift in perspective and emotional state. Clients report feeling joy, peace and connection as well as a transformation of deep emotional experiences. Cannabis does the same, but by activating the endocannabinoid system. We have found through experience that Ketamine provides more of a cushioned experience, while Cannabis can be more activating. It is important to note that each individual's experience is unique, and each session is unique. We humans change from day to day, and so will your experience in therapy.
Ketamine or Cannabis? It depends! Cannabis is legal in Colorado, and easy to obtain. Some individuals, however, have had negative experiences with Cannabis - or their employment prevents them from using it. Ketamine is available through prescription only. We work with several psychiatrists who prescribe and monitor dose. The process of obtaining a prescription requires an evaluation by one of our prescribers, and usually takes more time compared to visiting a dispensary. Regardless of the substance, experiencing a non-ordinary state of consciousness is transformative.
So what is the process like? Before beginning psychedelic In a KAP session, we work to create a relationship that you (and your fried nervous system) can trust. We work to build skills that will support you through the hard work of processing past experiences. There is no set time table or expectations, we will move move at a speed that is comfortable for you. In session, we focus on the body, tracking sensations and emotions, reconnecting and giving the nervous system space to reorganize. Your therapist may coach you, help you focus, ask you questions, use therapeutic touch, use music or ceremony to help you navigate your internal landscape. Medicine assisted sessions last two hours. We begin with a check-in. Ketamine is administered sublingually, and takes 10-15 minutes to dissolve. Cannabis is inhaled (edibles take too long to begin working) and dose is determined by the client. We work to help you find your sweet spot. At the end of the session, you may still be feeling the effects of the medicine. We require you to have a ride home after session, for your safety. It's not unusual for clients to continue to process in the hours and days following a session. We encourage you to reflect and stay in touch if you find you need support.
What else do I need to know? Some experiences may be temporarily disturbing, but if you are likely already familiar with that feeling. The medicine experience itself is designed to enable your own healing wisdom to be accessed and beneficial to you. The therapeutic support you will receive will help to make your experiences valuable and understandable to you. Because each person is unique, there is no way to predict the length of treatment, number of treatments, or the outcome of treatment. As you and your therapist get to know one another, they will be able to compare your treatment to other client experiences and make adjustments to the number and duration of treatments. Medicine assisted therapy, like adventure therapy, is experiential.