Psilocybin use grows in popularity, increasingly seen as legitimate therapeutic tool
BALTIMORE -- Psilocybin is the psychedelic chemical found in so-called "magic mushrooms." Research shows it may help treat depression in some patients, and it's growing in popularity as a therapeutic tool.
More celebrities are opening up about their experiences with psychedelics. In his new 60 Minutes interview, Prince Harry reveals he used psychedelics to treat mental health difficulties. NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers has attributed his success to hallucinogenic tea.
"It helps the stress just melt away," said Andy Cramer of Baltimore. He uses psilocybin monthly to treat his post-traumatic stress disorder. "If you have PTSD, if you have deep-seated trauma, it helps you deal with the past in a way that doesn't wreck your present."
Researchers, including those at Johns Hopkins Medicine, have been studying psilocybin therapy for a range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety and addictions.
"It's becoming more widely accepted as a legitimate mental and emotional health tool," says Nicholas Levich, co-founder of Psychedelic Passage. The Oregon-based business operates a nationwide referral network of "psychedelic facilitators" who can guide you through a psilocybin experience or "journey."
They have seen a big spike in demand. Levich said in 2021, "we probably referred out 60 people or something. And this past year, we referred over 420."
Levich says psychedelics can help you access your subconscious, and find the root of the issue. "Certain epiphanies or a-ha moments, connecting the dots of things that may have happened way in your past. And then realizing how they impact the future."
Oregon is the first state to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms, and Colorado just became the second. As attitudes toward psilocybin change, more states may follow suit.
"You're able to use something that helps you deal with who you are, without making you feel bad about yourself," Cramer says. "It's amazing."
There are risks to using psychedelics. Levich says psilocybin can make some mental health conditions, like schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder, worse. It can also exacerbate cardiac or respiratory issues. He says to be careful if you're already taking certain medications, and don't do it alone.
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