Misconceptions and Myths About Psychedelics

One of the hurdles we face with psychedelics is more than five decades of lies and mistruths from the War on Drugs. Many in the general public still have completely unfounded ideas about psychedelics.

Psychedelics have a stigma, which is ironic, because for centuries psychedelic plants and fungi have been revered as holy and sacred -- and only used in religious/spiritual healing ceremonies.

Thus, to help foster education and shed some much-needed light on the subject, this section shares and debunks some common false narratives about psychedelics.

1. Psychedelics are addictive. Quite the opposite; psychedelics are NOT considered addictive or habit-forming; there is no development of any physical dependence. In fact, if anything, psychedelics are anti-addictive. These medicines are known to produce positive insights that can help people overcome addictions and help patients break through to the underlying emotional and traumatic challenges that led to addiction in the first place.

Do some people misuse these medicines? Perhaps some small portion of the population, but for most of these substances, it is almost impossible to consume them daily -- because they do not affect the same parts of the brain that addictive drugs do.

2. Psychedelics will make you crazy. Remember those public-service ads with the frying pan -- "this is your brain on drugs." Ugh. More scare-mongering. On higher doses, will many people hallucinate and see unimaginable visions? Yes, but that's one of the principal properties of psychedelics -- and for the vast majority of people, those effects are only temporary until the medicine wears off.

Yes, for some people who are already prone to psychosis and mental disorders, psychedelics should NOT be used for concerns about causing a psychotic break.

3. Psychedelics are killers. Of EVERY kind of medicine/drug examined over decades and decades of research, psychedelics have been shown to be one of the safest -- with the fewest deaths reported. In fact, deaths related to psychedelics are minor compared to deaths from tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drugs -- annually, fewer than 20 deaths are attributed to psychedelic use and more than 700,000 deaths from tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescribed medications.

Even at extremely high doses, psychedelics do not lead to physical health problems -- even with chronic use. That said, people who take the substances recreationally or ignore the warnings about interactions with other medications, may face health consequences.

4. Psychedelics are purely recreational. Thousands and thousands of research studies and papers -- both from before the ban on psychedelics in the 1970s and now during this psychedelic renaissance -- strongly show the potential for these psychedelic medicines to treat a wide variety of conditions, including: addiction, mood disorders (including depression), anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and control disorders (such as eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder).

Of course, some people will take these medicines recreationally -- for the "cool" images and "fun" trip, but even for those people taking these substances recreationally, they are much safer than other recreational drugs such as tobacco and alcohol, let alone heroin, cocaine, etc.

5. Psychedelics can cause birth defects. This myth has to be the ultimate scare tactic. Psychedelics have NOT been shown to adversely affect sperm, eggs, or DNA. Recent studies have shown that psychedelics do cause any genetic damage nor birth defects.

The question of medicating with psychedelics while trying to get pregnant is more of a personal matter, just like changing diet, supplements, exercise, and other habits while attempting to get pregnant.

It is strongly encouraged that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding do not take any psychedelics.

6. Psychedelics can cause holes in the brain. Seen those brain-imaging pictures showing the brain with what looks like big holes in it? Pure propaganda and completely false -- except possibly under the most abusive and repeated uses (as with almost any repeated use/abuse of anything).

The truth is that current research shows the opposite of this lie -- that psychedelic medicines actually increase the connections in the brain... increase the neuroplasticity of the brain, making it easier to change your thoughts and behavior in ways that last long-term. Psychedelics may actually help you make long-term, positive changes to your brain.

7. Psychedelics will result in repeated bad trips -- with flashbacks. First, let's state that lower levels/dosages of these medications -- including microdosing -- do not produce ANY hallucinogenic visions or distortions. Second, let's again rebrand the term "bad trip" to one more applicable -- "challenging trip" -- because in some instances, people will experience images/visions that are disturbing, frightening, challenging -- but these are necessary -- because the healing comes from uncovering these hidden traumas/fears.

In some situations, certain people (especially it seems from LSD) do have some flashbacks, but the numbers are small and scientists are actively studying why this phenomenon happens to some people.

Final Thoughts on Psychedelic Medicine Myths

While the research is mounting on the miraculous benefits of psychedelic medicines, there are decades of misinformation from the government and centuries of lies from religious organizations fearful of the power of these medicines (especially in relation to attempting to convert indigenous people).

Psychedelics are not a magic pill or a cure-all, but the medical and spiritual powers of these substances cannot be ignored and should not be slandered. With the proper research and planning, under the proper conditions and with the correct dosage, and a dedication to fully integrating the experience, people are being healed -- sometimes (or perhaps many times) with truly spectacular results.

Additional Reading on the Psychedelics

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.