I have been listening to a lot of talk lately about the use of recreational drugs to help them seek relaxation and clarity, and to sleep . On an ethical level, I cannot just sit back and not say something. What I want to tell you people who think drugs are safe and ok is, “I call BULLSHIT”!
Here’s why. I have attached a picture of the brain while in reactionary mode, which is what happens when on stimulants of all types. The central part of the brain has a part called the amygdala and it is a major part responsible for shunting signals from the body, during fight or flight. This is an unconscious survival method that the primal part of the brain uses in order to bypass the other parts of the brain, so we can react fast when stress signals come in.
So when we are reacting, we aren’t using the other parts of the brain so we can respond and reason. These parts of the brain help us actually see things with clarity.
When sending a signal in the brain through the primal centre of the brain, the amygdala triggers the processes in the body to respond to the fight or flight stressors we are experiencing. When we are unconsciously reacting and shunting stimulae through the amygdala, we cannot normally access parts of the brain.
These various parts so important to clarity and reasoning, are responsible for our visual processing, spatial reasoning, number sense and estimation, mental arithmetic, and abstract conceptualization. Further, these are areas of the brain that support intentional and conscious ways to make decisions. They help us to think before we respond. Thinking and reasoning processes occur in parts of the brain that support attention, working memory, executive function, and cognitive control of the prefrontal cortex. As well, necessary abilities are reasoning and problem solving, memory formation and consolidation. Even our motivation is affected.
When living under stress mentally and physically, you are simply always in a state of arousal and hyper vigilance. In essence, you are training your brain to be stunted.
What happens physically in the brain when its under the influence of psychedelic drugs , which are creating havoc in our lives? Let’s look at how the nervous system works in the brain nerve cells.
When a signal goes into the brain, it creates more nerve cells in those parts of the brain that are being stimulated. How?
In order to send the signals from cell to cell, there are neurotransmitters that bridge the gaps between cells. You might think of it as ferry boats between two ports. So there are receiving ends called receptors. They are the reception just like the docks for the ferry. The ferry would be likened to a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is the transportation to transmit stimulus between nerve cells.
What happens as a result of these cells being fired by stimulus? Well, processes in the cells happen right in the nucleus. This is where the DNA is operating to produce the products needed to form more nerve cells. Enzymes from the firing processes in the cells signal the DNA to cause the development of more nerve cells. Therefore, with more nerve cells, they join up to make more connections and pathways. As a result, signals can travel along to reach parts of the brain quicker and more effectively.
So in the area where there are cells firing, more cells are forming, more pathways, and the brain’s functions are reinforced in those regions. So whatever is coming into the brain, you will get more of that. So that includes thoughts and physical stimulus from the body.
When we are under the influence of stressors, we are bypassing these valuable functions of the brain in a reactionary way. We are not reinforcing those parts of the brain because your stressor signals are being shunt through the primal brain. The signal is being impeded in its access. Therefore, we aren’t helping ourselves to think rationally if we choose to react, we are hindering our access to parts of the brain that create clarity. When we strengthen and create patterns in those parts of the brain, we can make decisions to our greater good.
Drugs like psychedelics undo brain pattern making, disrupting them. How? Psychedelics (agonists) hijack the activity and natural function of neurotransmitters by non-selectively affecting 1000 proteins in the brain, that have different functions and roles. The logical consciously responding part of the brain, that is naturally fired by neurotransmitters, are hijacked by substances (agonists) from psychedelic drugs. These bind to the nerve cell receptors in place of where the serotonin usually docks (aka ferry docking). A spark or synapse then occurs just as if its a neurotransmitter. When the drugs attach to these receptors non-selectively, they go hog wild firing, creating pathways in all directions aimlessly, causing hallucinations. And then, normal patterns of thought progression are disrupted.
So, knowing how the drug works in the brain, one could now evaluate the descriptions explained by DMT, LSD, cocaine, and Ayahuasca enthusiasts. They hyper-activates the region of the brain through these pathways where memories are stored. Thus old memories long buried come to the surface, to become aware. It has been explained that as these memories are brought back up to the consciousness, new pathways are reestablished in the other parts of the brain where they are randomly firing, and new meanings are assigned to those memories, so the emotions can be let go and new patterns established whenever that old memory comes up.
The question is, what type of new meanings are being associated with those distorted memories, through a process of random hodge podge firing of the brain and pattern scattering. It has been argued by psychedelic enthusiasts, that the meanings to memories and emotions are altered. So they feel that the consciousness has evolved and people are no longer slaves to the previous experiences and emotions originally attached to them.
But what new meanings or hallucinations have replaced those memories, due to the over-activation of areas of the brain? And if psychedelics stimulate the amygdala causing fight or flight reactionary responses, what are the side effects on our body and mind. Psychedelics are stressors in the brain and many risks are apparent.
For instance, lets take a look at DMT (Dimethyltryptamine), a psychedelic hallucinogenic drug. DMT is structurally related to serotonin, so serotonin syndrome is a potentially lethal health risk associated with DMT usage. If you take antidepressants, you are at highest risk.
What is Serotonin syndrome? This occurs when the body accumulates an excessive amount of serotonin, the condition is caused by taking a combination of different drugs. Too much serotonin in the body can lead to a range of symptoms, such as agitation, confusion, high blood pressure, loss of muscle coordination, and headaches. At higher doses it causes seizures, respiratory arrest and coma.
It can have serious adverse consequences for anyone with pre-existing psychological problems or mental illness such as schizophrenia, drug and alcohol addictions. Psychologically intense visual and auditory hallucinations, euphoria, and an altered sense of space, body and time. (That doesn’t sound like a rational reasonable way to deal with memories and is just a method to escape and disassociate rather than deal and heal in a compassionate way to oneself.)
Addiction centres say DMT is an active ingredient in Ayahuasca. It is potent and causes damage to mental and physical health. There is not a lot of testing that has been done on DMT and the effects on the brain as it is grouped as a Schedule 1 substance, is illegal to obtain, thus not available to study. It is in the early phases of research.
DMT, it works like magic mushrooms, binds to serotonin receptors as a result, neurons that react only when serotonin is there, start firing without the chemical. This is the reason why people hallucinate on the drug and feel like they are visiting another reality or dimension. Psychedelics change the way that the structures of the brain connect to one another. There’s no evidence it is physically addictive but it is mentally addictive. People dependent on it won’t feel right when they don’t have it. Plus, they bring preexisting mental health issues to the surface.
The substances not to mix psychedelic drugs with are: diet pills, antihistamines, SSRIs, asthma treatment medicines, Xanax, alcohol, barbiturates, cocaine, amphetamines, opioid drugs, nutmeg. Regular use can lead to psychosis, disorganized thought, paranoia, and visual hallucinations.
What I know about healing from the past, is in order to problem solve, confront and examine the lessons that we have extracted from our lives experiences, we need to evaluate our mindset and frame of reference (values, beliefs, morals, ethics, principles, faith). We need to be able to tap into the inner guru, our real active witness of our life (not drugged), and our inner wisdom that accumulates from a life of lessons and insights.
If meanings to memories have been altered without close examination by means of rational thought processes, we lose out on growing and entering the learning curve. We can’t smoke or fix our way through the learning curve. How can we access the true wisdom we have learned through all experiences if they have been reassigned hyper-vigilant or hallucinogenic meanings?
We can’t apply a band aid of new reactionary and imaginary meaning to bullet holes in our door or past traumatic memories. We need a new door and the only way to do that is to consciously remove the stories, lies and stinking thinking habits that skew our beliefs, values, opinions, attitudes, and behaviours.
We need to understand who we are and who we aren’t. We need to evaluate what we want more of and what we want less of. We need to understand how society has influenced us and we have caved to their projections, judgments, opinions and rules.
This conscious intentional confrontation is what will lead to release and an understanding of a new level of a true (not inhibited by psychedelics and hallucinogens) identity. We need a new understanding of ourself and our life, one with potential and a new healthy mindset. This is needed in order to embrace and fully inhabit a life of significance. (Not one on borrowed time that has been conned and masked by DMT, LSD, magic mushrooms, cocaine, booze and such.)