English: Look out! Look out! Pink elephants on...

English: Look out! Look out! Pink elephants on parade . Here they come! Hippety hoppety. They’re here, and there. Pink elephants everywhere. Thats what she said (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m still getting caught up from being gone so much in August.


I thought it was interesting that a study didn’t find any links between hallucinogens– more properly called psychedelics because they mostly don’t cause hallucinations– and mental problems. You see, I’m graduate of the psychedelic era. Some of the things that people practiced then have become lost lore.


Interestingly, the original group of LSD and mushroom users had discovered the truths about the three conditions that affect the use of mind altering drugs: drug, set, and setting. The outcome of a drug-taking experience is not solely determined by the drug itself. It is also influenced by your state of mind– mind set when taking the drug, and the setting in which it is taken. So folks that used LSD would only do it when they were in a good mood and good physical health, would never do it alone, and would always do it in a good setting, frequently nature on a nice day. Newcomers were strongly encouraged to take acid with someone who had experience with the drug but were not taking it at the time– the so-called “acid guides.”


In this very small drug subculture, there were some people who were actively discouraged from doing drugs– either for any reason at any time, or for specific reasons at specific times.  Psychedelics were considered to be risky drugs to take, and to be treated with caution. Also, not to be done very often, and not to be combined with other drugs.  There were also people who were judged by their peers to not need psychedelics, which is an interesting thing to contemplate. Before anti-drug propagandists took over the expressions such as “high on life” or “natural high,” There were folks who had done both the drug-assisted high and the natural high who were proponents of doing the vast majority of your tripping using unassisted brain chemistry.


Interestingly, this small (and now vanished) subculture did not favor much alcohol use or the use of what have come to be called hard drugs. they did smoke pot, but the stuff available then wouldn’t get a second look from most potheads now. And there weren’t a lot of people in those days who would smoke it daily, much less all day long.


People have been pursuing altered states for millenia, but mostly for spiritual reasons. And it’s important to remember that most of those experiences were done under controlled conditions and for particular reasons– and mostly through prayer, fasting, ecstatic dancing, and other non-drug means. The classic American Indian vision quest usually involved being alone in nature– a practice that I would recommend over and above taking any substance. If you can’t be alone with yourself for 5 days with no human influences stronger than a foot trail and what’s in a backpack, you definitely should avoid psychedelics.


Just one person’s opinion.

LSD - attempted reconstruction of acid patterns

LSD – attempted reconstruction of acid patterns (Photo credit: wallygreeninker)


About jamesmatter

Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in private practice in San Francisco. I work with adults, adolescents, and couples, with focus on substance use and abuse and co-occurring disorders (having both a mental illness and an addiction).
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