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Let's Hear It For Psychoactive Therapy

as opposed to just Psychedelic Therapy

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

December 9, 2022

uestion: Why do we never see calls for Psychoactive Therapy for mood disorders, only for Psychedelic Therapy for mood disorders?

Answer: Because 100+ years of prohibition propaganda (of focusing only on the downsides of "drug use") have convinced almost everybody in America, and so in the mental health field as well, that psychoactive medicines that have any addictive propensities whatsoever must and will always be used unadvisedly and cause addiction.

But this belief is just that: a belief, not a fact. To the extent that it is true, it is because drug law makes it so by limiting the choice of the "drug users" to a few addictive substances, sold by criminal organizations who profit (like Big Pharma, in fact) precisely to the extent that their nostrums bring about chemical dependence. Such drug use often ends in tragedy precisely because our laws are created with that goal in mind: the goal of ruining a "user's" life. And so, the Drug Warrior will look triumphantly at someone who dies of drugs and cry: "You see how horrible those evil drugs are?", meanwhile failing to notice that the death was brought about by ignorance combined with prohibition itself. As Andrew Weil points out in "From Chocolate to Morphine," even so-called overdose deaths from the "devil drug" of heroin are actually caused by the lack of pure and predictable supply, which is a result of the Drug War itself, not heroin. Thanks to prohibition, the users may think they are consuming a safe and usual dose when in reality they are receiving a dose of twice or thrice the normal potency.

Speaking of Weil's brave and classic book, one that deals with the facts about drugs, "warts and all," it should be required reading in every school, since it gives kids the facts and urges them to make wise choices as adults with respect to the psychoactive substances that they choose to employ. But the Drug Warrior hates nothing so much as honest education about psychoactive substances. They want us to fear "drugs," not to understand them. Through word, deed, and legislation about "drugs," they teach Americans nothing except to "Be afraid! Be very afraid!" T

Unfortunately, this fearmongering campaign has worked. The man behind the curtain has bellowed his hyperbolic threats about drugs and Americans have cowered accordingly.

That is why Drug War opponents are so often "on the back foot." They have grown up in a society where they have been taught to fear psychoactive substances, a world in which they received a teddy bear in grade school in return for a pledge to renounce their right to mother nature's bounty, a world in which TV and movies only showed "drug use" in a negative light, and a world in which academics never studied "drugs" except with the government-sanctioned goal of showing how harmful they can be, hence the proliferation of academic articles about "misuse" and "abuse" and the almost total absence of academic articles about positive use, potential or historical.

And so today's Drug War opponent, unwittingly influenced by such propaganda, often cuts a very apologetic figure in calling for legalization, saying, in effect, "Yes, some of these substances are horrible indeed, but prohibition is not the answer."

With friends like that in the legalization movement, we scarcely need enemies.

The fact is that drugs like cocaine, opium and even crack could be used on a therapeutic basis and without causing addiction -- even though an entire lifetime of propaganda has told us otherwise.

The ways that such meds could be used positively are so obvious that it's amazing that I have to even point them out -- and yet the Drug War ideology of substance demonization has so thoroughly scapegoated these substances that I have to speak as if to a child in making most Americans understand how psychoactive therapy could work.

First, we have to imagine the replacement of psychiatrists with what I call pharmacologically savvy empaths, western shamans who would be free to use any drug or combination of drugs in the world in conjunction with what is commonly referred to as "talk therapy." The goal of therapy would be the goal of the client, and that term is used advisedly, for such therapy would get rid of the very notion of a mental patient insofar as the shaman's visitors would be seeking not just to cure acknowledged pathologies such as depression but also to achieve a client's more general goals, such as improving their mental focus or their appreciation of nature or music, etc. The goal of the shamans, for their part, would be to identify the drug or drugs that will incline the partakers to be honest during therapy and to undergo experiences that, properly guided, could lead them to feelings and insights necessary for achieving the therapeutic goals that they have specified.

At least some of the psychoactive drugs to be employed in these sessions would be drawn from among those that psychiatrists have hitherto stigmatized with the label of "feel-good drugs." And why do professionals refer to substances as "feel-good drugs"? Partly in order to make a virtue of the necessity of intolerant drug laws (rather than protest the Drug War, claim that the drugs that it outlaws are therapeutically useless) and partly because of the false belief that psychiatry is a true science and therefore can only treat problems in a reductionist way, rather than "merely" making people feel good. But if it's any consolation to Puritans, the good feelings involved here have a therapeutic purpose: namely, to open minds and mouths, in order to let talk therapy at last fulfill its so-far poorly fulfilled promise of actually helping people. For sober talk therapy has always had limited results, for the simple reason that many "patients" self-censor themselves without even knowing it. I myself spent many wasted hours in therapy as a teen saying almost nothing, not because I was stonewalling, but because I really had no conscious insights into my situation and so really felt I had nothing meaningful to say.

One benefit of such therapy would be provided by its very existence: i.e., the therapeutic value of the anticipation generated by one's actually looking forward to a psychoactive session.

The depressed and anxious will necessarily be happier thanks to their anticipation of such therapy. Why? Because they know that the substances that are to be employed in the upcoming session will give them a blessed vacation from their gloomy introspection and nervousness.

The "drugs" themselves could be administered in a ceremonial or religious fashion, if the client so desired, but also in a more prosaic manner, by merely handing the pills, plants, fungi, and/or liquids to the clients. The goal, after all, is to meet the client's needs and desires, not to turn them into flower children -- or into materialists for that matter.. This process would avoid addicting the patient for multiple reasons: first because the names of the drugs thus employed need not be shared with the user except at their request; second because the shaman would so vary the drugs used on any particular visit as to minimize the development of tolerance, thirdly because the drugs will often be employed in mixtures, making the repetition of use almost impossible unless both the shaman and client conclude that such repetition would move the therapeutic process forward, i.e., contribute to more honesty and self-insight.

The clients would also be able to choose drug-free sessions, even to the point of banning coffee and tea from the room if desired. And so the proposed therapy need differ very little from the status quo, especially for clients who share the Christian Science biases of Mary Baker Eddy. On the other hand, the pharmacological assistance may be provided entirely by psychedelics: it's the client's choice.

In other words, I'm not saying that there's a problem with the idea of psychedelic therapy itself. The point of this essay is to say, however, that the true goal in a sane world would be to advance the goal of PSYCHOACTIVE therapy in general rather than to campaign for the legalization of psychedelic therapy alone.

Our failure to do so betrays our acceptance of the Drug Warrior lie that time-honored substances like opium and coca can have no beneficial uses -- at any dose, in any situations, for anyone, anywhere, ever. That's an anti-scientific lie, and no amount of Drug War propaganda should convince us to pretend otherwise.

October 12, 2023

Brian isn't advocating for drugs to be legal in a medical setting only. The proposed therapy would be an option for users in a world wherein the government no longer decided how much you could think and feel in life -- that is, in a world wherein Mother Nature (and the medicines derived therefrom) were legal (once again). Many folks have empaths in their own life that could help in this way, once we wrench the therapeutic practice out of the hands of myopic reduction-prone materialists.

Author's Follow-up: October 12, 2023

If you doubt that the Drug War is out to ruin the lives of users, check out "Drug Warriors and Their Prey" by Richard Lawrence Miller, where the author reports that safe users were the pet peeve of Drug Czar William Bennett. He actually thought that responsible users set a bad example (that's right, a BAD example) and so should have their names published in newspapers and have their employers informed about their safe use. It's hard to say what's more breathtaking here, the intolerance or the stupidity.

Author's Follow-up: November 3, 2023

The idea that doctors should be in charge of treating people with psychoactive substances is crazy. It's like having a doctor teach people to ride horses. There is a lot more to horseback riding than physical safety. In fact, the majority of horseback riding is about thinks of which the doctor as such is blissfully ignorant. It's the same with psychoactive drugs. What does the doctor know of the users desire for self-transcendence and their ambition to think clearly with mind-focusing drugs, etc.? The doctor has zero qualifications in this field. As with horseback riding, he or she can speak to safety issues, but that's it.

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Previous essay: Blaming Drugs for Nazi Germany

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Prohibition Tweets

Democratic societies need to outlaw prohibition for many reasons, the first being the fact that prohibition removes millions of minorities from the voting rolls, thereby handing elections to fascists and insurrectionists.
When folks die in horse-related accidents, we need to be asking: who sold the victim the horse? We've got to crack down on folks who peddle this junk -- and ban books like Black Beauty that glamorize horse use.
Today's Washington Post reports that "opioid pills shipped" DROPPED 45% between 2011 and 2019..... while fatal overdoses ROSE TO RECORD LEVELS! Prohibition is PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE.
The goal of drug-law reform should be to outlaw prohibition. Anything short of that, and our basic rights will always be subject to veto by fearmongers. Outlawing prohibition would restore the Natural Law of Jefferson, which the DEA scorned in 1987 with its raid on Monticello.
Drugs like opium and psychedelics should come with the following warning: "Outlawing of this product may result in inner-city gunfire, civil wars overseas, and rigged elections in which drug warriors win office by throwing minorities in jail."
Prohibition turned habituation into addiction by creating a wide variety of problems for users, including potential arrest, tainted or absent drug supply, and extreme stigmatization.
If we let "science" decide about drugs, i.e. base freedom on health concerns, then tea can be as easily outlawed as beer. The fact that horses are not illegal shows that prohibition is not about health. It's about the power to outlaw certain "ways of being in the world."
The formula is easy: pick a substance that folks are predisposed to hate anyway, then keep hounding the public with stories about tragedies somehow related to that substance. Show it ruining lives in movies and on TV. Don't lie. Just keep showing all the negatives.
Then folks like Sabet will accuse folks like myself of ignoring the "facts." No, it is Sabet who is ignoring the facts -- facts about dangerous horses and free climbing. He's also ignoring all the downsides of prohibition, whose laws lead to the election of tyrants.
That's the problem with prohibition. It is not ultimately a health question but a question about priorities and sensibilities -- and those topics are open to lively debate and should not be the province of science, especially when natural law itself says mother nature is ours.
I personally hate beets and I could make a health argument against their legality. Beets can kill for those allergic to them. Sure, it's a rare condition, but since when has that stopped a prohibitionist from screaming bloody murder?
I can think of no greater intrusion than to deny one autonomy over how they think and feel in life. It is sort of a meta-intrusion, the mother of all anti-democratic intrusions.
Enforced by the blatantly rights-crushing solicitation of urine from the king's subjects, as if to underscore the fact that your very digestive system is controlled by the state.
Until prohibition ends, rehab is all about enforcing a Christian Science attitude toward psychoactive medicines (with the occasional hypocritical exception of Big Pharma meds).
Philip Jenkins reports that Rophynol had positive uses for treating mental disorders until the media called it the "date rape drug." We thus punished those who were benefitting from the drug, tho' the biggest drug culprit in date rape is alcohol. Oprah spread the fear virally.
This is the "Oprah fallacy," which has led to so much suffering. She told women they were fools if they accepted a drink from a man. That's crazy. If we are terrified by such a statistically improbable event, we should be absolutely horrified by horses and skateboards.
This hysterical reaction to rare negative events actually creates more rare negative events. This is why the DEA publicizes "drug problems," because by making them well known, they make the problems more prevalent and can thereby justify their huge budget.
The Partnership for a Death Free America is launching a campaign to celebrate the 50th year of Richard Nixon's War on Drugs. We need to give credit where credit's due for the mass arrest of minorities, the inner city gun violence and the civil wars that it's generated overseas.
In 1886, coca enthusiast JJ Tschudi referred to prohibitionists as 'kickers.' He wrote: "If we were to listen to these kickers, most of us would die of hunger, for the reason that nearly everything we eat or drink has fallen under their ban."
Drug Warriors never take responsibility for incentivizing poor kids throughout the west to sell drugs. It's not just in NYC and LA, it's in modest-sized towns in France. Find public housing, you find drug dealing. It's the prohibition, damn it!
I don't believe in the materialist paradigm upon which SSRIs were created, according to which humans are interchangeable chemical robots amenable to the same treatment for human sadness. Let me use laughing gas and MDMA and coca and let the materialists use SSRIs.
What prohibitionists forget is that every popular but dangerous activity, from horseback riding to drug use, will have its victims. You cannot save everybody, and when you try to do so by law, you kill far more than you save, meanwhile destroying democracy in the process.
Prohibition is based on two huge lies: 1) that there are no benefits to drug use; and 2) that there are no downsides to prohibition.
The 1932 movie "Scarface" starts with on-screen text calling for a crackdown on armed gangs in America. There is no mention of the fact that a decade's worth of Prohibition had created those gangs in the first place.
The worst form of government is not communism, socialism or even unbridled capitalism. The worst form of government is a Christian Science Theocracy, in which the government controls how much you are allowed to think and feel in life.
The Shipiba have learned to heal human beings physically, psychologically and spiritually with what they call "onanyati," plant allies and guides, such as Bobinsana, which "envelops seekers in a cocoon of love." You know: what the DEA would call "junk."
And where did politicians get the idea that irresponsible white American young people are the only stakeholders when it comes to the question of re-legalizing drugs??? There are hundreds of millions of other stakeholders: philosophers, pain patients, the depressed.
Yes, BUT when they say "drugs plus therapy," they don't mean drugs in general. They mean a small selection of drugs that pass muster with pharmacologically clueless politicians.
I agree that Big Pharma drugs have wrought disaster when used in psychotherapy -- but it is common sense that non-Big Pharma drugs that elate could be used to prevent suicide and obviate the need for ECT.
There are a potentially vast number of non-addictive drugs that could be used strategically in therapy. They elate and "free the tongue" to help talk therapy really work. Even "addictive" drugs can be used non-addictively, prohibitionist propaganda notwithstanding.
We need to start thinking of drug-related deaths like we do about car accidents: They're terrible, and yet they should move us to make driving safer, not to outlaw driving. To think otherwise is to swallow the drug war lie that "drugs" can have no positive uses.
The DEA outlawed MDMA in 1985, thereby depriving soldiers of a godsend treatment for PTSD. Apparently, the DEA staff slept well at night in the early 2000s as American soldiers were having their lives destroyed by IEDs.
Imagine someone starting their book about antibiotics by saying that he's not trying to suggest that we actually use them. We should not have to apologize for being honest about drugs. If prohibitionists think that honesty is wrong, that's their problem.
I, for one, am actually TRYING to recommend drugs like MDMA and psilocybin as substitutes for shock therapy. In fact, I would recommend almost ANY pick-me-up drug as an alternative to knowingly damaging the human brain. That's more than the hateful DEA can say.
A pharmacologically savvy drug dealer would have no problem getting someone off one drug because they would use the common sense practice of fighting drugs with drugs. But materialist doctors would rather that the patient suffer than to use such psychologically obvious methods.
If there's any doubt about this, check out the 2021 article in Forbes in which a materialist doctor professes to doubt whether laughing gas could help the depressed. Materialists are committed to seeing the world from the POV of Spock from Star Trek.
If the depressed patient laughs, that means nothing. Materialists have to see results under a microscopic or they will never sign off on a therapy.
Oregon's drug policy is incoherent and cruel. The rich and healthy spend $4,000 a week on psilocybin. The poor and chemically dependent are thrown in jail, unless they're on SSRIs, in which case they're congratulated for "taking their meds."
Prohibitionists have blood on their hands. People do not naturally die in the tens of thousands from opioid use, notwithstanding the lies of 19th-century missionaries in China. It takes bad drug policy to accomplish that.

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Time to Replace Psychiatrists with Shamans
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The Depressing Truth About SSRIs
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The Naive Psychology of the Drug War
The Origins of Modern Psychiatry

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You have been reading an article entitled, Let's Hear It For Psychoactive Therapy: as opposed to just Psychedelic Therapy, published on December 9, 2022 on For more information about America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-scientific, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, visit the drug war philosopher, at (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)