What's the Connection Between Healing and Psychedelics?

  • "I am completely healed."

  • "I never knew I could feel hope, love again."

  • "This was the most profound experience of my life."

  • "I no longer have any desire for drugs."

  • "I came out of the experience free of anger and shame."

These are all quotes from people who found true and profound healing through the intentional use of psychedelic medicines.

Curious? Please keep reading.

Healing Crisis

We are a people in crisis. Many of us carry around one or more traumas within us, ones that we may not even remember, but whether it is some sort of abuse to us or some lack of love and protection, we have all suffered trauma -- mental and psychological trauma. The key is what do we do with it? Most of us are taught to just push down and "get over" the trauma, and so we do... until something triggers us and we explode in anger, shame, fear, hurt.

We are in a healing crisis within a mental health epidemic, combined with an overreliance on prescription pills for our various issues, aggravated by a serious opioid and addiction/overdose catastrophe, and topped by an under-reported but very real spike in suicides.

We are hurting as a community. We are hurting as individuals -- and we need healing. These traumas often lead to negative behaviors and consequences. What's worse, we are facing a massive mental health crisis that's been building for decades and is close to a tipping point.

We are also living in a time of increased social isolation, whether from pandemics or social media or work-from- home, and many of us no longer feel a part of a community. We know that community is essential to healing; we need to be connected to "our" people.

Suicide rates are some of the highest they have ever been -- especially among veterans and first responders. Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the U.S., and in 2020, 45,979 people killed themselves -- an average of 130+ suicides per day.

During that same period, about 12.2 million people seriously thought about suicide and approximately 1.2 million people attempted suicide. First responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty, and suicide is the second leading cause of death in the military community (with an estimated 40+ suicides daily). The Native American community is the worst hit by the suicide epidemic, having the highest suicide rate of any racial/ethnic group, with 23.9 percent of the population committing suicide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than half of Americans have reported being affected by suicide.

Finally, many people are struggling with the lack of community, connections, and spirituality typically associated with religion; many of us feel disconnected from the people and world around us. Yes, talking about religious beliefs, but spirituality is bigger than official religions: spirituality is about seeking a meaningful connection with something greater than yourself.

We have been told by doctors and pharmaceutical companies (through their frequent and insidious advertising) that all we need to do to feel better is take a pill -- or several pills. Often, a troubling combination of benzodiazepines and antidepressants that were never meant to be taken daily for the rest of our lives.

What's the problem with taking a daily pill(s) for your mental health and well-being? Three problems. First, once you start taking these pills, it's often a lifetime choice and extremely difficult to wean off the medication(s). Second, many of these pills simply reduce symptoms; they are not cures but merely a temporary fix (which by default becomes a permanent "fix"). Third, many people stop taking the meds because they feel the drugs "mask" their true selves.

Intentional Psychedelics Use Can Result in True Healing

Please Note: Avoidance does not heal us; ignoring things does not heal us; self-medicating does not heal us; prescription drugs do not heal us.

There are some effective healing modalities, but even some of those are limited. For example, talk therapy is a great way to uncover and release trauma, but many people do not have access or do not want to participate in talk therapy. One of the interesting refrains heard often after a psychedelic experience: "I cleared stuff today -- in a few hours -- what I could not do in 5 years of therapy."

Other true healing modalities that lead to changes in thinking and consciousness include meditation and breathwork. Some try to heal through creative endeavors, such as journaling, painting, and dancing. Others turn to nature, food, and somatics.

But we also have to include psychedelics as a key modality of true healing, especially entheogenic plants and fungi.

For centuries, indigenous cultures around the world have used various psychedelics -- including Ayahuasca (DMT), Magic Mushrooms (psilocybin), Mescaline, and Ibogaine -- to heal. The use of these medicines dates back thousands and thousands of years.

We also have decades of research (much lost due to the "War on Drugs") on how psychedelics affect the brain... and we are seeing new studies emerging almost daily showing the positive impact of psychedelics on mood disorders (such as depression), anxiety and panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, addiction (to drugs, alcohol, smoking), and end-of-life anxiety. And even more healing conditions are being studied.

The most recent research on psychedelics and the brain shows that these medicines help neurons in the brain grow new dendrites, which increases connections between cells -- meaning psychedelics help build and solidify new circuits in the brain, allowing people to lay down more positive brain pathways.

Psychedelics promote neuroplasticity and increase cognition, leading to the possibility of listing psychedelics as a nootropic (a substance that supports one or more aspects of brain health and cognitive function, such as focus, mood, memory, willpower).

Psychedelics, while not a miracle cure -- and not for everyone -- do have the potential of helping people cut through all the layers of protective coverings to get at the root cause of the trauma, the root of the anxiety, fear, and depression. Psychedelics are a window to our souls -- a window into things we have suppressed so deeply that we do not consciously understand or remember.

We have the potential for true and complete healing, and the unearthing of our authentic self, free of the hurt, anger, shame, and fear. Psychedelic medicines are mind-altering substances that produce changes in perception, mood/emotions, and cognitive processes, resulting in deeper self-awareness and knowledge of who we are.

Final Thoughts on Psychedelics and Healing

In November 2022, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, stated that the mental health crisis is the biggest concern facing the country.

We are also, not coincidentally, amidst a psychedelic renaissance -- perhaps even a psychedelic revolution -- and it's about time. Research in the field is booming, media interest is reaching a crescendo.

What's stopping you? If you are uncertain about doing a full psychedelic medicine journey, you could investigate microdosing as another healing option.

Finally, and most importantly, you MUST be willing to do the work after completing your psychedelic experience.

The medicine will interact with you and show you what is wrong; the trauma you experienced but had forgotten, what needs to be fixed, even how to fix these things, but the medicine -- the psychedelic experience -- is just the beginning of a long journey of healing and work on changing your life. We call this "after" process integration.

To learn more about what these psychedelic medicines are -- and how or why they might be of use to you for your healing -- or the healing of a loved one -- please find numerous articles and tools in this section of my book's website. (The book, Triumph Over Trauma, is also a good resource!)

Last Word: For more information on all the "wholeistic" healing methods available to you, please see HealMeWhole.com.

For Learning More About Psychedelics From Dr. Randall

Additional Psychedelics and Healing Resources

Dr. Randall Hansen is an advocate, educator, mentor, ethicist, and thought-leader... helping the world heal from past trauma. He is founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com.

He is the author of the groundbreaking Triumph Over Trauma: Psychedelic Medicines are Helping People Heal Their Trauma, Change Their Lives, and Grow Their Spirituality and the well-received HEAL! Wholeistic Practices to Help Clear Your Trauma, Heal Yourself, and Live Your Best Life.

Dr. Hansen's focus and advocacy center around true healing ... healing that results in being able to live an authentic life filled with peace, joy, love. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.