Disclaimer | In Crisis?
If you are in crisis or contemplating self-harm or suicide, please call 988 or visit 988Lifeline.org, which provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24/7 in the United States. An extensive list of International suicide prevention hotlines can be found there. Remember: You are needed, you deserve to be here, and you are not alone. Reach out, and do not give up.
Having a Challenging Trip?
If you are experiencing a difficult psychedelic event, or still need help processing one, call or text 62-FIRESIDE. The Fireside Project offers free emotional support during or after a psychedelic experience. You can also download their app. Their services are completely confidential, and their staff is rigorously trained, compassionate, and knowledgeable regarding psychedelics. You can also contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at (800) 622-HELP (4357). Their confidential helpline is available 24/7 in English and Spanish for individuals and family members experiencing emotional distress or crisis.
Additional support resources can be found in the Zendo Project directory. The Zendo Project was founded in partnership with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. Their extensive list of harm reduction resources, emotional support services, and peer support hotlines offer a vast array of tools to help you move through a challenging experience and come out the other side feeling empowered and secure.
Having a Medical Emergency?
If you or a loved one are experiencing a medical emergency and require immediate attention, please dial 911 (USA) immediately.
Are You a Veteran Having a Medical Emergency?
If you are a veteran experiencing a difficult trip or crisis, please contact (800) 273-8255 and Press 1. This will connect you to the Veteran Crisis Line. Their hotline is staffed by experienced personnel, many of whom are also veterans. A trained responder will answer your call 24/7 to help you through a crisis, anxiety, or thoughts of self-harm.
Emotional and Crisis Support for the LGBTQIA+ Community.
Members of the LGBTQIA+ community may face unique and difficult situations during a challenging psychedelic experience. If you need emotional or crisis support, dial (888) 688-5428 or visit LGBThotline.org. Their hotline is designed for people of all ages and staffed by a dedicated team of highly trained volunteers from all parts of the LGBT+ community. They also offer a dedicated line for LGBT+ seniors that you can reach at (888) 234-7243.
Be Wary of Fentanyl-Contaminated Drugs.
The United States is experiencing a synthetic opioid epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives due to street drugs being adulterated with other drugs, such as fentanyl. Fentanyl is an incredibly powerful and deadly narcotic, with doses as low as two milligrams (a dose so small it could fit on the tip of a pencil) being potentially deadly. While it is never recommended to consume any illicit substances, it is critical that you or the people you know test any drugs you may ingest for fentanyl. Several non-profit harm reduction organizations, such as DanceSafe, offer fentanyl testing strips and at-home drug testing kits.
The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider. Some individuals with preexisting mental health conditions should not use psychedelics. Always consult with a trained medical professional about your specific healthcare needs.
Are Psychedelics Legal?
Most classical and non-classical psychedelic drugs are prohibited in the United States under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. This family of chemical compounds are considered Schedule I drugs, the most tightly controlled and generally illegal class. This includes psilocybin (aka Magic Mushrooms), Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), Ayahuasca, Ibogaine, Peyote, 2C-B, Cannabis, and others. Ketamine is also controlled under the same act and listed as a Schedule III drug. Due to the illegal or controlled nature of these drugs, it is not advised that you attempt to purchase, source, or otherwise possess any Scheduled substances, as you may be at risk of civil and criminal penalties.
The information provided on this website is intended for informational and harm reduction purposes only and does not constitute medical or legal advice. Nor is this information, or any journalistic stories, anecdotes, visual or artistic material intended as a replacement or supplement for medical or legal advice. It is important to understand that using any psychedelic compounds from the streets has significant risks and is unlikely to produce the promising results emerging in some clinical trials which involve particular dosing and purity, along with specific, carefully crafted psychotherapy in a safe, controlled environment. Various psychedelics purchased illegally often are adulterated with other, possibly harmful substances, making it difficult and not advisable to self-medicate for PTSD, anxiety, depression, or for the treatment of other mental health issues.
Psychedelics are one of the most intriguing, mysterious, and often misunderstood topics in both science and culture. These powerful substances have, over the decades, been praised as game changers in psychotherapy, demonized by world governments, studied by scientists and philosophers, and experienced by millions of ordinary people. Psychedelics have directly contributed to some of society’s greatest, and darkest, moments, spurring generations of spiritualists and philosophers to use them as part of the eternal quest to understand what it means to be human.
We’ve collected five of the most powerful and influential lectures from the 1950s to today to give you a glimpse into the many musings of the modern era’s greatest psychedelic experts. From the philosophical explorations of Alan Watts to the scientific rigor of Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, we present five of the most influential psychedelic lectures you need to hear.
Alan Watts: Turning the Head or Turning
Alan Watts (1915-1973) was a British philosopher and psychedelic guru best known for mixing Eastern philosophy and spirituality with Western ideals. Watts’ mix of philosophical reflections, humor, psychedelic insight and deeply human experiences became popular in the late ’50s into the ’60s. Watts released 25 books, including some that are still widely read today including, The Way of Zen and The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.
In this lecture, titled Drugs: Turning Head or Turning, Watts takes listeners on a wild trip that explores why humans have always taken drugs, their cultural significance, and the strange resistance some cultures have had to them. Watts uses his signature biting humor and witty, often personal, stories to contrast the Eastern and Western views on drugs and spirituality — noting that many cultures have long integrated psychoactive substances into other spiritual practices.
Watts explains the many possible benefits and possible downsides of psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin, emphasizing that while they have the potential to occasion great insights, they aren’t a panacea. Watts makes it clear that relying solely on substances to achieve enlightenment or escape can lead to dependency and a detachment from reality. Yet, he stresses that when used wisely and respectfully, psychedelics can be uniquely powerful tools for personal growth and exploration. Watts’ message is, in essence, one of balance: noting that it’s natural to seek altered states of consciousness, but crucially, psychonauts must do so with mindfulness and intention.
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Terence McKenna: Opening The Doors of Creativity
Terance McKenna (1946-2000), was an American ethnobotanist, philosopher, psychonaut, lecturer, and author who was known for advocating the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic substances. He was a prolific speaker and thinker on a variety of subjects, ranging from the nature of consciousness to the role of psychedelics in human culture and evolution. McKenna is probably most famous for popularizing the idea of psychedelic beings associated with DMT use known as the “Machine Elves.” He purportedly interacted with the Elves during several of his most powerful psychedelic experiences.
In Opening the Doors of Creativity, McKenna emphasized the transformative potential of psychedelic substances like psilocybin (aka magic mushrooms) and DMT. He believed that these substances could act as catalysts for profound personal and societal change by providing direct experiences of boundless creativity, interconnectedness, and novel perspectives on reality.
McKenna believed that psychedelics have played a crucial role in the evolution of human consciousness and culture. He also proposed the “Stoned Ape Theory,” suggesting that the consumption of psychedelic mushrooms might have contributed to the rapid expansion of the human brain and the development of language, art, and religion. By altering consciousness and neural rigidity, these substances, according to McKenna, can break down cultural conditioning, opening up new avenues of thought, and unleashing the full potential of human creativity.
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Paul Stamets: How Psilocybin Mushrooms Can Save The World
Paul Stamets is a well known mycologist (often called “the mushroom man”) and a leading authority on the medicinal and environmental uses of mushrooms. Born in 1955, he has dedicated his life to the study of, and advocacy for, fungi — positioning himself at the forefront of research in mycology. His passion for mushrooms began in his early years, and over time he has amassed a wealth of knowledge, making significant contributions to the field. He has written several books, with Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World being one of his most acclaimed.
In his lecture at SXSW, How Psilocybin Mushrooms Can Save The World, Stamets discusses the potential of magic mushrooms in medicine, and how they may benefit society as whole by changing how we perceive our place in the world. His views are shaped by a combination of personal experiences, traditional knowledge, and contemporary scientific research. He believes that psilocybin, when used responsibly and under the right conditions, can offer significant therapeutic and transformative benefits. One of Stamets’ most frequently shared stories is that of his first psilocybin experience, in which he rode out a thunderstorm while under the influence of magic mushrooms. Stamets attributes this experience to the resolution of his severe speech impediment, and often says it spurred his interest in psychedelic medicine.
Stamets is also known for his lectures and presentations, where he passionately shares his vision for a world that harnesses the power of fungi for ecological restoration and medical advancements. His advocacy has not only brought attention to the often-overlooked kingdom of fungi, but has also inspired a new generation of mycologists and environmentalists. Paul Stamets often underscores the interconnectedness of life and the potential solutions that nature, particularly fungi, offers to help solve humanity’s many challenges.
Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris: The Neuroscience Behind Psychedelics
Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris is a leading figure in the realm of psychedelic research, particularly known for his groundbreaking studies on the effects of psychedelic substances on the human brain. He has been at the forefront of scientific investigations into compounds such as psilocybin (found in magic mushrooms) and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). His research aims to understand the impact of psychedelics on consciousness, brain activity, and potential therapeutic applications.
In his lecture, The Neuroscience Behind Psychedelics, delivered at Summit, Dr. Carhart-Harris gives a riveting talk on the intricate ways in which psychedelic compounds interact with the brain, leading to altered states of consciousness. He reveals how psychedelics tend to increase the connectivity between different brain regions, which might underlie the profound and often transformative experiences that individuals report. These insights are not only fascinating but also have significant implications for understanding human consciousness and the potential therapeutic use of psychedelics.
Dr. Carhart-Harris has been an advocate for the careful and controlled therapeutic use of psychedelics. His research has suggested that these substances, when used responsibly and in the right setting, can offer therapeutic benefits for conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris’ contributions will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the future of psychedelic-assisted therapies.
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Dr. Carl Hart: Drug Use For Grownups, A Human Rights Perspective
Dr. Carl Hart is a distinguished neuroscientist and professor of psychology at Columbia University. He is renowned for his research on drug addiction and behavior, and he has been a vocal advocate for drug policy reform. Dr. Hart’s work challenges many conventional beliefs about drugs and addiction, emphasizing the importance of evidence-based approaches to drug education and policy.
In the realm of psychedelics, Dr. Hart recognizes their potential therapeutic benefits and the importance of rigorous scientific research to understand their effects. In this lecture, Drug Use For Grownups, A Human Rights Perspective, Dr. Hart speaks about the historical and cultural use of psychedelics and other drugs, while advocating for a new approach to drug policy that emphasizes harm reduction, and bodily autonomy. Dr. Hart believes that adults should be legally able to use psychedelics and other drugs in a safe, responsible, and informed way. He proposes that the demonization of these substances is largely unfounded and that they can offer profound experiences and potential mental health benefits when used responsibly.
Regarding adult drug use, Dr. Hart’s stance is rooted in personal responsibility and harm reduction. He argues that adults should have the right to make informed decisions about drug consumption without facing criminal penalties, as long as their actions do not harm others. In his book, Drug Use for Grown-ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear, and corresponding lecture, he presents a case for the responsible use of drugs. Emphasizing that many adults can and do use drugs without detriment to their responsibilities or overall well-being. Dr. Hart advocates for a shift in perspective, from viewing drug use as a moral failing to understanding it as a part of the broader human experience.
As made evident by the lectures from the experts presented here, psychedelics challenge our understanding of consciousness, offer new therapeutic avenues, and may even be able to cause societal shifts in perception and changes to the human condition. While the journey with psychedelics is deeply personal, they can provide each of us with a roadmap for exploration, understanding, and growth.
This material is not intended as a replacement or substitute for any legal or medical advice. Always consult a medical professional about your health needs. Psychedelics are widely illegal in the United States, and readers should always be informed about local, state, and federal regulations regarding psychedelics or other drugs.