In recent years, there has been a growing trend among executives and celebrities openly discussing their experiences with psychedelics, including ketamine. Most recently, Elon Musk discussed his use of ketamine with the Wall Street Journal as a means for treating depression. Musk said he believed ketamine is a better way to deal with depression compared with more widely prescribed antidepressants that are “zombifying” people. Celebrities are speaking out on psychedelics including psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and DMT (ayahuasca) are other powerful psychedelics used by numerous celebrities, such as Mike Tyson, Harry Styles, Kristen Bell, Miley Cyrus, Sharon Osborne, Seth Rogan, and Prince Harry to name a few. This shift in public discourse reflects a broader cultural movement towards exploring alternative forms of therapy and wellness.
The historical context
Psychedelics have been used for centuries by various cultures for spiritual and therapeutic purposes. In the 1960s, these substances entered the mainstream consciousness and were initially celebrated for their potential to expand the mind and foster creativity. However, due to the excesses of the era and the lack of regulatory oversight, psychedelics soon faced a backlash and were largely criminalised.
Breaking the stigma
One of the most significant shifts in recent years has been the willingness of celebrities to break the stigma surrounding psychedelic substances. Personalities like Michael Pollan created a Netflix special called “How to Change Your Mind” and Amanda Feilding, known as the First Lady of LSD and creator of the Beckley Foundation have been instrumental in initiating a conversation about the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelics. By sharing their own experiences, they’ve opened the door for more people to consider these substances as a legitimate part of mental health and personal growth.
The advocacy of celebrities has played a crucial role in changing public perception. When well-respected individuals share their positive experiences, it helps demystify psychedelics and presents them as a viable option for mental health treatment. This celebrity endorsement often acts as a catalyst for public discussion and acceptance, encouraging others to share their own experiences and seek help.
Ketamine as a therapy tool
Ketamine, once primarily known as a party drug, has gained attention in recent years in the medical and psychiatric community for its powerful results in treating mental health disorders. “This is a game changer,” proclaimed John Krystal, MD, chief psychiatrist at Yale Medicine and one of the pioneers of ketamine research in the country. The drug works differently than those used previously, he notes, calling ketamine “the anti-medication” medication, referring to the fact that ketamine works differently than antidepressants. Celebrities who discovered the therapeutic effect of ketamine have openly discussed their positive experiences with ketamine-assisted therapy for conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. It’s important to note that these therapies are conducted in controlled, clinical settings with trained professionals.
The psychedelic renaissance
The resurgence of interest in psychedelics can be attributed to the growing body of scientific research supporting their potential therapeutic effects. Studies have shown promising results in treating a range of mental health issues, from depression and anxiety, to trauma and PTSD. Celebrities who endorse these treatments are often leveraging their platform to advocate for further research and more widespread access.
Responsible usage and legal considerations
It’s crucial to emphasise that the use of psychedelics should always be approached with care and under professional guidance. While there are significant legislative gains for the use of psilocybin, other psychedelics such as DMT and MDMA are still illegal. Ketamine is the only legal psychedelic currently, and requires the prescription and care of a trained healthcare provider. Therefore, any discussion of their use should be framed within the context of legal and medically supervised settings. To receive proper ketamine treatment, traditionally people have to go to a clinic, but a new innovative mobile clinic called AVYIA in Seattle will send a medical provider to a patient’s own home to administer ketamine treatment. The company is making sure each patient is receiving ketamine under the supervision of a doctor in the comfort and privacy of the patient’s own home.
As the stigma around psychedelics continues to fade, it is likely that we will see more individuals coming forward to share their experiences. This openness can contribute to a more informed and understanding society where individuals suffering from mental health issues feel supported in exploring various treatment options. Mental health is a complex disease and the consensus is that it takes an integrative approach by using all the tools we have available to us and psychedelics is one of the powerful tools we have. Furthermore, as legal frameworks continue to evolve, access to these transformative substances may become easier, providing hope and healing to many.
The growing willingness of celebrities to share their personal experiences with psychedelics, including ketamine, mirrors a wider cultural movement towards considering alternative strategies for mental health and personal development. These high-profile endorsements serve as a significant conduit for raising awareness and advocating for the responsible use of these substances. However, it is crucial for individuals to approach psychedelics with prudence, responsibility, and seek professional guidance. It is imperative for healthcare providers to innovate and improve access to these potentially transformative treatments for patients. Implementing services like Telehealth, mail-order medications, and home visits by physicians, as exemplified by AVYIA, are viable options. With the continuous advancement of research in this domain, the discourse around the potential benefits of psychedelics is set to become more informed, nuanced, and sophisticated in the foreseeable future.
Tim Williamson, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.