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'Shrooms With A View
A pity that so many people refuse to either admit or understand that all drug use is not abuse.

When I was at a real low point when living in New York, I knew what I had to do. I'd appeared on a number of radio shows where I'd run into Terrence McKenna, who wrote a book a friend had given me, The Archaic Revival, and who talked to me about the benefits of hallucinogens. I consulted a doctor friend of mine, who assured me I wouldn't turn my brain into toothpaste if I took them. Then, I made the call.

There was a service, back in the day, and maybe still, in New York, called Weed Deliver. You had to be referred by one of their clients, and you'd call a number and ask for a delivery. I forgot what you asked for, specifically, but you couldn't mention drugs.

Anyway, a bike messenger would then show up with drugs. In the early 90s, mushrooms were $5 a "serving." Not bad.

I took them while borrowing a friend's loft and ran around the place naked and wrote down a bunch of my thoughts. You might think that drug thoughts were just an incoherent useless mess, but I actually was able to dig myself out of what I was going through.

At some point, the high got to be too much for me, so I called up my friend Max, and made him take me out for pizza so I could come down.

But for the dumbass drug warriors, we might be using drugs, not only for a little tipsy fun like a glass of wine, but to alleviate pain and help people out of depressions. Here's an LA Times story by Denise Gellene about helpful hallucinogen use:

Resting on a hospital bed beneath a tie-dyed wall hanging, Pamela Sakuda felt a tingling sensation. Then bright colors started shimmering in her head.

She had been depressed since being diagnosed with colon cancer two years earlier, but as the experimental drug took hold, she felt the sadness sweep away from her, leaving in its wake an overpowering sense of connection to loved ones, followed by an inner calm.

"It was like an epiphany," said Sakuda, 59, recalling the 2005 drug treatment.

Sakuda, a Long Beach software developer, was under the influence of the hallucinogen psilocybin, which she took during a UCLA study exploring the therapeutic effects of the active compound in "magic" mushrooms. Although illegal for general use, the drug has been approved for medical experiments such as this one.

Scientists suspect the hallucinogen, whose use dates back to ancient Mexico, may have properties that could improve treatments for some psychological conditions and forms of physical pain.

Long dismissed as medically useless, the banned mushrooms — a staple of the psychedelic 1960s — are taking a long, strange trip back to the lab.

The medical journal Neurology in June reported on more than 20 cases in which mushroom ingestion prevented or stopped cluster headaches, a rare neurological disorder, more reliably than prescription pharmaceuticals.

In July, researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore reported that mushrooms could instill a sense of spirituality and connection, a finding that scientists said could lead to treatments for patients suffering from mental anguish or addiction.

The research has been driven in part by the success of mood-altering pharmaceuticals, such as the antidepressant Prozac, which work on the same brain chemicals and pathways.

Nothing scientists have learned so far indicates that recreational use of mushrooms is safe. The psychological effects remain unpredictable. Deaths have been linked to mushroom intoxication. A Ventura County teen was killed by a car two years ago as she wandered naked across the 101 Freeway after eating mushrooms.

Even under the tightly controlled conditions of a clinical trial, some patients have had terrifying experiences marked by anxiety and paranoia; two people in the Johns Hopkins study likened the experience to being in a war.

The drug "takes your thoughts through a prism and turns them around," Sakuda said.

Her drug trip left her with a sense of peace — a serenity she hadn't felt since her diagnosis.

"It was like rebooting a computer," she said.

That's exactly what I found. I called it "mental floss."

Posted by aalkon at November 20, 2006 11:53 AM

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Comments

I hope, after noting that "Nothing scientists have learned so far indicates that recreational use of mushrooms is safe. The psychological effects remain unpredictable. Deaths have been linked to mushroom intoxication", you aren't suggesting that your own self-medication is a call for others to do so, even as I admit that a great many people have with no lasting harm.

I say this partly from a desire to see consistency. If Beatrice Foods poisons literally one in a million people, it's considered by many to be criminal neglect. It does make sense to treat some things with more than a handshake and calm words. At the other extreme, it does not make sense to "shock" someone by radical measures, especially unobserved, in cases where a more-ordinary course of action is more suitable.

One of the most common ailments in America is obesity. The effective and safe procedure for losing weight is to monitor activity and diet - "eat less, exercise more" - which many people do not want to hear. Imagine the havoc when some poor souls decide that they cannot do anything about this "mental problem" without drugs. We already have too much quackery. I've seen you cite it.

Posted by: Radwaste at November 20, 2006 2:57 AM

Haven't done 'shrooms since the Dead show at Shoreline in 92. It still makes me smile to remember. A lot of people have told me that the psilocybin affects them the same way as it does me...imparting a sense of peace and connectedness. For someone who is feeling depressed or isolated, I can see how this might be theraputic. Stay away from the LSD though. That shit is harsh. (Tried once in 79. Never again.)

Posted by: deja pseu at November 20, 2006 6:00 AM

Os Janiger worked with hallucinogens and psychiatric patients, and had success with them. The problem is, because they aren't legal, there's no measured dosage, no testing, etc.

I took LSD once, and it was much too strong for me.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 20, 2006 6:15 AM

Drugs are bad, mmmkay?

I love/hate the Beatles, they made hallucinogens seem legitimate. So I took them. Repeatedly (it all is coming into focus, isn't it? Damn you, Magical Mystery Tour!).

"When I was at a real low point when living in New York, I knew what I had to do."
You were at a low point, so you knew you had to do hallucinogens? Please...

"There was a service, back in the day, and maybe still, in New York, called Weed Deliver."
I remember them, they made the headlines... and then they were busted.

"I took them while borrowing a friend's loft and ran around the place naked"... Internet Video!!!

"She had been depressed since being diagnosed with colon cancer two years earlier, but as the experimental drug took hold, she felt the sadness sweep away from her, leaving in its wake an overpowering sense of connection to loved ones, followed by an inner calm."
I'm not a doctor, but my dad was, so close enough. Messing with your serotonin levels is ill-advised.
serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro98/202s98-paper1/Ebbitt.html

"In July, researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore reported that mushrooms could instill a sense of spirituality and connection"...
This is the premier medical institute that can't tell the difference between XTC and speed, so they must be right...
www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,60328,00.html

"But for the dumbass drug warriors, we might be using drugs, not only for a little tipsy fun like a glass of wine, but to alleviate pain and help people out of depressions."
About 6% of Americans use illegal drugs on a regular basis (I would guess it's actually a higher percentage), so I think a lot of people would agree with you (myself included).

'I called it "mental floss."' You should of hooked up with Frank Zappa..
"Movin' to Montana soon
Gonna be a Dental Floss tycoon (yes I am)
Movin' to Montana soon
Gonna be a mennil-toss flykune..." (from the album Over-nite Sensation)

KIDS!!! DO!!! NOT!!! DO!!! HALLUCINOGENS!!!

Posted by: Hasan at November 20, 2006 7:04 AM

PS: Is your Content Management System tripping on acid? It's impossible to post a comment without generating an Internal Server error message... want some help with that?

Posted by: Hasan at November 20, 2006 7:06 AM

BTW, nice title!

Posted by: Hasan at November 20, 2006 7:07 AM

Hasan -- I loved Overnight Sensation! In combination with weed, it was plenty hallucinogenic!

"Kiss my aura, Dora
Mmmm... it's real angora
Would you all like some more-a?
Right here on the floor-a?
And how about you, Fauna?
You wanna?"

Posted by: Lena at November 20, 2006 7:40 AM

The error messages are due to spammers/the server, I dunno what else. Gregg is talking about taking our sites off the hosting company we use and having a private server, but we're both incredibly busy now (well, he does all the work on stuff like that, I just stand around and flash him my breasts for moral support, or something like that).

And if we didn't demonize drugs, we could have an honest, intelligent discussion about what the risks are, with scientific evidence. My doctor friend is a researcher who'd used mushrooms himself, and had looked into the potential problems. It was a risk to take them, just as it's a risk to do many things, but I was in a bad spot and I decided to take the chance. I was glad I did, but my experience and others' may vary, especially since there's no standard for mushrooms.

Os Janiger had success with them, and later, with chemically altering severely mentally ill patients so they could function. (I knew him through Roy Walford and Tim Leary.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 20, 2006 8:28 AM

Do all the ‘shrooms you want, just remember. You never return to your original launch site, ever.

Posted by: Roger at November 20, 2006 9:04 AM

"And if we didn't demonize drugs, we could have an honest, intelligent discussion about what the risks are, with scientific evidence." You know I'm in agreement. By the way, are we talking about drugs or religion?

"I just stand around and flash him my..." sugartits. When will you learn, firebush?

"Hasan -- I loved Overnight Sensation!" I am the slime from Montana, but if you have a Camarillo brillo, my zombie wolf will give you the dirty love. I figure the odds be 50/50. Send photo.

Posted by: Hasan at November 20, 2006 9:57 AM

Just "watch out where the Huskies go..."

Posted by: deja pseu at November 20, 2006 10:04 AM

"She had a snake for a pet
And an amulet
And she was breeding a dwarf
But she wasn't done yet
She had grey-green skin
A doll with a pin
I told her it was all right
But I couldn't come in"

Posted by: Lena Zappa at November 20, 2006 1:37 PM

A friend of mine in NYC used one of those dope delivery services. I think it was called Mister Goodrush. She quit after the guy got a look at the inside of her enormous upper east side apartment and made his interest in the electronics a little too obvious.

Posted by: Nance at November 20, 2006 3:04 PM

A couple of years ago three teachers at my local Marin County, California, community college put together a course on the history of the 60's. Essentially it was a speaker each night, and each was someone famous from activity in one of the various movements of those times. (We have a lot of them living near here now.)

We had the great fortune of a several hour visit from Ram Das, his first "public" appearance since his stroke. Remember that before his name change, he was a professor of psychology at Harvard, and thus presumably quite competent to set up and run a scientific experiment. At the time he was experimenting with the long term effects on recidivism from the use of LSD by prisoners. At the time he spoke to us, he told me that the results were just coming in. (Of course, it would take a long time for the prisoners to first get out of prison and then establish whether or not they were going to go back in.) He said that LSD reduced recidivism by 50%. He also said that he though that those results would never get any attention or be acted upon. Alas, he is probably right.

Posted by: Gary Steiger at November 20, 2006 4:44 PM

Sweet Jesus!!
Used to listen to Terrence on LA's alternative FM station almost 25 years ago. It was captivating. Stories of drug research in the Amazon and interviews with medicine men in the tribes. My wife has Parkinsons and as it progresses I don't give much of a shit about the laws and what is right. I just want some relief for her and me.
Thanks for the nudge form a long time ago. I'm gonna look into it.

Posted by: billnichols at November 20, 2006 6:14 PM

Easy, Bill. Sometimes a little acid is just enough to push people (like someone who's dealing with a spouse with Parkinson's) right over the edge of sanity. Sometimes it's more like a computer crashing, not rebooting.

Posted by: Lena at November 20, 2006 7:05 PM

The problem is, Bill, it's going to be hard for you to find anyone who can give you reliable information on LSD. I'd listen to Lena. I'd try to find out who the top researcher in the field is -- if there even is a researcher or a "field." Unfortunately, both Os and Terrence McKenna are dead.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 20, 2006 7:57 PM

I dated a guy who used to be one of those bike messengers for the drug delivery service!

Posted by: Peggy Archer at November 20, 2006 8:48 PM

When I was 16, I had to restrain a friend on acid from jumping off a roof on MacDougal Street after an all-night party -- which wasn't particularly fun, since I was stoned on peyote at the time. She was a wacky, confused kid who probably didn't take the drug at the right time in her life, and subsequently joined a cult of some fat guy from India. That was enough to make me forego hallucinogens for good. But if someone says LSD helps relieve the pain of cancer, well then, remember what the Dormouse said...

Posted by: Lena at November 20, 2006 8:56 PM

> from the album Over-nite

Hasan, you're my best new blog friend! And you're precisely, precisely right about the drugs.

My right foot's bigger than my other one is. I am about as evil as a boogie man can be.

Posted by: Crid at November 20, 2006 8:59 PM

I never got anything out of hallucinogens that a good bottle of wine and Ummagamma couldn't afford.

I was wondering where you were today Crid....

(I wanted to record your "Providence" thing tonight, but there was a Michael Palin Himaleyas program on.... my TV is down to 10pm-sleep nowdays.)

Posted by: eric at November 20, 2006 9:27 PM

Remember, it's the 1976 Dirk Bogarde movie, not any competing products also named Providence.

Posted by: Crid at November 21, 2006 9:15 PM

I've never done any hallucinogens myself, and combine all the weed I've ever smoked in my life and it *might* be equal to one joint. But oh, the difference after those little puffs.

I understand exactly about the 'reboot.' I suffer from depression that comes and goes. The best relief from the deep downs that I've found is a couple of puffs of weed. Afterwards, things look much better and I feel like I can function again. One of these days I'd like to see if the hallucinogens can help make the 'reboot' take - regrettably the depression always returns.

Posted by: Elle at November 21, 2006 9:41 PM

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