Before I discuss psychedelics in this context, I feel obligated to issue a few disclaimers.
Psychedelics Are Not a Panacea
The first one is psychedelics will not solve the world’s problems nor everyone’s personal problems. Some people that take psychedelics do huge damage to the world. Some have psychotic breaks. Since the scientific/skeptic community largely dismisses spiritual experiences, some people are drawn to pseudospiritual woo-woo for answers after using them. Psychedelics are clearly not a magic pill.
Psychedelics are also not for everyone. They have serious downsides. People with a family history of mental illness or present mental illness should practice extreme caution when using psychedelics. Even mentally healthy people can lose their minds after taking psychedelics. All psychonauts should be aware of that.
I don’t care how mentally strong you think you are. Do not underestimate psychedelics. They are powerful introspective tools. I don’t believe full doses can be used safely at parties. Being around lots of dancing strangers as your mind is picked apart by magic mushrooms is not safe and it’s not respecting the substance. Psychedelics must be approached with respect and caution, every time.
As a final disclaimer, be aware of the legal risks of taking psychedelics. Thanks to the failed War on Drugs and the thugs who wage it, psychedelics are illegal everywhere, with few exceptions. When you acquire psychedelics for consumption, you become a criminal. And the legal repercussions are far heavier than failing to stop at a stop sign. Be prepared for the worst.
Psychedelics Are a Rite of Passage
With the relevant disclaimers now out of the way, let’s talk about psychedelics as a rite of passage.
Psychedelics have undeniable, life-transforming benefits. They offer a way of looking at the world, and ourselves, that we normally don’t have access to. Many people who try psychedelics, myself included, rank their experiences while tripping among their top life experiences.
Terence McKenna, American ethnobotanist and advocate for psychedelic drugs, once said:
“I think of going to the grave without having a psychedelic experience like going to the grave without ever having sex. It means that you never figured out what it is all about…” - Terence McKenna
While I don’t think sex is comparable to psychedelics, Terence did have a point. Healthy people who abstain from psychedelic drugs are missing out on an important life experience.
If someone doesn’t want to take psychedelics because of lack of interest, I suspect they might not see the value anyways. Maybe those people aren’t missing out. But when someone abstains from psychedelics because they drank the D.A.R.E. Kool-Aid and they think all illegal drugs are nothing but bad, I feel bad for them. They might be missing out on some of the most important experiences in their life thanks to ignorance and stupidity.
If I ever have offspring, which I don’t plan on, I hope they never try heroin, methamphetamine, or give themselves brain damage with large quantities of cough syrup. But if they go to the grave without ever using psychedelic drugs, I will feel that they missed out on one of the most important experiences life has to offer.
Education And Legalization
The stigma against psychedelics and their users needs to go away. It needs to be replaced with a balanced assessment of each drug’s benefits and downsides. Thankfully there are a lot of organizations spreading good information about psychedelics since obviously public education is failing hard at it.
With any luck, psychedelics will be legalized or at least decriminalized in the coming years and people who want to explore their minds will be free to do so without being demonized for curiosity.
1: Steve Jobs
4: D.A.R.E. Indoctrination Program