Want a Better World? Do Psychedelics.
Psychadelic Treatment and The Wide-Scale Impact of Trauma Healing
You’re not alone if you’ve opened up a social media platform today to someone else talking about the doom and gloom of our upcoming future. Whether it’s polarized chats about gun violence, the ongoing debate of Roe vs. Wade, or the rising prices of gasoline, the world in front of us is far from the utopia of the Disney-promised “happily ever after”. It’s hard to believe in fairy tales when nihilism and disenchantment are trending.
But there is a way out. There is a better world out there. While there are many things we can do to improve the world, perhaps the quickest is to use the medicine Mother Earth already gave us. Wide-scale use of psychedelic treatment could have a major impact on helping us create the world we want to live in.
Psychedelics help people feel better
There has been an absolute surge in our desire to understand psychedelics, and with good reason. Every week a new study is being run or published about the power of psychedelics and their impact. Mescaline has been shown to improve depression, anxiety, and alcohol and drug dependency. MDMA use can help people to work through their traumatic pasts. Psilocybin has potential links to helping with Alzheimer’s and Dementia… The list goes on. Psychedelics are starting to have a true impact on people’s lives.
Take for instance, Tyler Thomas. After Thomas’ initial experiences with psychedelics he became a harm reduction specialist at local music festivals. Having a repressed Christian upbringing, Thomas had a lot to unpack. He speaks of a past in which he repressed his ability at empathy. “It was like… whoa, I can talk to other people, before I was scared of that. But in hindsight now, I just hadn’t opened that doorway. It opens you.” Thomas hasn’t participated in psychedelics in years now but still reaps the benefits of a more compassionate life. According to him, psychedelics help you get “tapped in” and once you are on that spectrum of awareness, you can’t see things differently. There is no going back from healing.
Psychedelics increase social connectedness
So what would happen if we took this feeling of healing, awareness, and empathy, and gave it to everyone? What would happen to our society if we could provide wide-scale support in building the skills to connect to one another with kindness and compassion? The impact of psychedelics could go far beyond helping the individual to creating a larger societal impact.
This feeling of interconnectedness isn’t an isolated experience. Science backs up what Thomas found in his own life. This Yale study found a connection between those who took psychedelics and a greater feeling of social connectedness. It goes on to say that, “this research provides robust evidence for positive affective and social consequences of psychedelics substance use”. When you use psychedelic treatment, your worldview expands. You think of others beyond yourself. You consider the world through a lens outside of your ego and even science backs that up.
This level of societal shifting hasn’t been experienced before. Think about how we use traditional medicine. If your partner has a headache, you popping ibuprofen won’t help them feel better. However, psychedelics move us beyond this individualized approach to medical treatment. We can treat the social ecosystems that make us who we are. Ultimately the psychedelics we use to feel better actually help the people around us feel better as well.
Psychedelics can change the world
When we can have a broader view of self, it has real-life impacts. Forget the road rage, the angry customer service situations, the displaced anger when we spill our morning coffee. When we think of where we are in the scope of human existence these inconveniences come down to scale.
One thing we can probably all connect over is that our current world has a lot of issues. The reason psychedelics have such a meaningful place in our future is because of their wide impact. Acute treatment does little to address wide-scale problems, and that’s exactly what we have on our hands.
Psychedelics and Substance Abuse
Let’s look at just one example we already touched on. Psychedelics are having some encouraging clinical results in the world of drug and alcohol addiction. For some context on how much this could impact our world, 19.7 million American adults have struggled with a substance abuse disorder. While almost 20 million is a staggering number on its own, if we consider the parents, partners, and children of all these folks, we can see the impact is much larger. And if you don’t care about the human element, which I would hope you do, we can just look at the money. Recent estimates show that the cost of this addiction has a $740 billion price tag for lost workplace productivity, healthcare costs, and crime expenses. Just to give you some concept of the scale of that, if we took the $740 billion price tag, healed addiction tomorrow, and divided our savings up among us, we’d all be receiving a $2000 check in the mailbox.
Addiction is just the tip of the iceberg though. Perhaps where the real world-changing happens is in the world of PTSD treatment. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition in which someone suffers from a previously experienced terrifying event. While it was once primarily a disease of veterans, more research in the realm of complex post-traumatic stress disorder shows how repeated terrifying events impact a great deal of people.
The Tutsi Study and Generational Impacts
In 2019, a ground-breaking study was released that looked at the Tutsi tribe. This study looked at both the PTSD and CPTSD that impacted the surviving members of the Tutsi tribe after the notorious genocide in Rwanda. What they found was that “parental CPTSD may have broader influences manifested in offspring lower resilience.” Essentially trauma exists in the world beyond the generation that experiences it.
Plus, it’s not working. Treating trauma in isolation isn’t an effective strategy, or trauma numbers wouldn’t keep rising. In America, more than two thirds of children reported at least 1 traumatic event by age 16. While not all of these are genocide, they’re similarly heinous experiences such as sexual abuse, school violence, or the sudden loss of a loved one. Fear and trauma take many forms.
So what do we do with this inter-generational and broadening impact of CPTSD? How do we address the growing predicament of our unempathetic and hyper-polarized screaming match? How do we show everyone they are fully capable of caring and connecting with people beyond themselves?
We need a wide-scale solution — like that which psychedelics offer — to address such a wide-scale issue. We need to take medicine societally to create a world we actually want to live in. We all deserve to find healing, and by increasing our knowledge, and application through the usage of these sorts of medicines, we can all find it.