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Are psychedelics dangerous?

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Psychedelics are not dangerous in the classical sense. No clear levels have been defined for either harmful or lethal doses, as the substances do not affect any of the body's vital functions - as, for example, alcohol, caffeine or cocaine do.

The substances do not cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms, and a research project carried out at NTNU in 2013 also found no connection between the use of psilocybin mushrooms and psychological problems. "In fact, the users of psilocybin and other psychedelic substances had fewer psychological problems than those without psychedelic experience". (Wikipedia).

This does not mean, however, that one should not think carefully before embarking on a psychedelic journey. For example, most people who contact us are adults, responsible people with relatively stable lives and a lot of care. The majority of these have also known about the existence of psychedelics for many years, and the idea of trying it yourself has matured over a long time. Not to understand that everyone needs to spend years thinking about it, but you should at least have a clear idea of why you are doing this and what you want to achieve. 

 

If you are very young (under 25), we might also encourage you to put a little more life experience in your rucksack before you move into this landscape. This has partly to do with the fact that the human brain is not fully developed until around the age of 25, but just as much with the fact that our culture has not established generally accepted arenas for the use of psychedelics.

In comparison, alcohol is a very powerful and potentially deadly drug, but it usually goes well anyway since most people have received some training in how to dose and enjoy it in the best possible way. 

When it comes to alcohol, there is also a culture of looking after each other when someone has drunk too much. Everyone knows the symptoms, and no one calls the psychiatric emergency room just because someone is behaving strangely after drinking a bottle of wine.

 

Not so with psychedelics. Most people have probably heard that you can expect spectacular color plays and other fun effects, while general knowledge about which deeper areas can be opened up at the same time is in acute shortage. Menigmann is thus little able to assess tripping behaviour. On the one hand, this can lead to the emergency room being contacted where there is absolutely no need for it, and thus create an unnecessarily frightening situation for the person on the trip. On the other hand, a lack of knowledge can prevent vital treatment, for example if an inexperienced traveler has ingested dangerous substances, or possibly too large doses of certain substances. For example, MDMA together with prolonged dancing and high alcohol intake can result in dehydration and potentially fatal overheating.

Used in a safe setting and with a prepared psyche, psychedelics are safe and developmental for the vast majority of people. Please take a look at the links below for more information about the most important caveats and exceptions to this rule.

One of the first major studies on psychedelics in modern times was conducted at Johns Hopkins University on a group of patients with life-threatening cancer. Two similar studies were conducted in 2011 and 2014 with 12 participants, so the aim here was to see if the results held up in a larger population (56 participants). All studies were double-blind and placebo-controlled. All participants had potentially life-threatening cancer diagnoses and marked symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. One group received a high dose of psilocybin, corresponding to 3.5 g of mushroom (P. Cubensis), and the placebo group received a low dose, corresponding to 0.25 g of mushroom. Before taking the medicine, they had an average of three preparatory meetings. There were two therapists present throughout the process and the room where the treatment took place was a "cozy" room with plants, pictures and a sofa where the participants had to lie. Following the medicine day, the participants had an average of six integration meetings, again with both therapists present.

The results were measured by asking both the participants themselves and other observers such as family, colleagues and friends. 62% reported that the high-dose experience was among the five most meaningful experiences they have had in their life, where experiences such as the birth of a child, death in close family, weddings and the like were on the list. 86% reported a moderate to high increase in quality of life, a figure that only decreased by 3.5% over six months. When measuring the reduction of symptoms for anxiety and depression, the results were 52-60% for the high-dose group compared to 12-16% for the placebo group.

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