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Someone you love is suffering unnecessarily because of the war on drugs

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

February 3, 2024

was chatting with my sister last night about a distant family member who can scarcely leave her house because of agoraphobia. Had the discussion occurred five years ago, I would have simply put this condition down to bad luck and condoled with my sibling over the trials and tribulations of our distant relation. But having since then studied the potential powers of psychoactive drugs to inspire, elate and even educate, I see such instances in an entirely new light today, as a sign, that is, that America is living in a self-imposed dark ages. For such conditions as agoraphobia are not untreatable, as we both seemed to implicitly believe judging by our impotent head-shaking on the subject. There are, in fact, hundreds of psychoactive medicines that could be creatively used in various protocols to overcome even extreme agoraphobia, substances ranging from the shrooms currently being trialed by MAPS1 to the phenethylamines like MDMA that have been synthesized by Alexander Shulgin2. So the big story here is not that my distant cousin has troubles: the big story is that America is willfully refusing to provide her with godsend relief.

If you doubt this claim, I invite you to read Alexander Shulgin's description (below) of his experiences on a phenethylamine that he created and called T-7. Keep in mind in doing so that phenethylamines are not some exotic psychoactive substance found in some rare endangered cactus in the Chilean desert, but rather, as Shulgin writes, they are "a naturally occurring compound found in both the animal and plant kingdoms," one which, in fact, is endogenous to the human brain3.

Account of Alexander Shulgin's experience on phenethylamine T-7

"Suddenly I am completely pierced, down to the core of my being, by what feels like the penetration of the Finger of God. It seems to be a female source that reaches me and touches. I am totally undone by this deep touching, and sob uncontrollably for several minutes, crying out all my pain and fears, and feeling sheer ecstasy. As I feel gratitude for the beauty, I am pierced again and again, and continue to sob."4

Anyone with a little common sense will immediately see how such drugs could be leveraged into empathic protocols that could treat agoraphobia. Unfortunately, common sense is at a premium in the age of the Drug War, so I will spell it out as follows.

First, what is agoraphobia? It is surely a kind of knee-jerk mental correlation between crowds and personal discomfiture. It's a negative psychological association that triggers all kinds of flight mechanisms in the afflicted individual. How then do you fight such a condition? Surely by helping the sufferer to start associating crowds with a different feeling altogether: namely, a feeling of bliss, love and contentedness rather than of panic, confusion and existential angst. And this is precisely what an empathic counselor could do using substances like T-7. He or she could gently introduce the agoraphobic to a whole new way of thinking about crowds, not by scheduling a hundred expensive office visits in which the duo discuss tactics for reducing anxiety (words, words, words!), but rather by helping the client begin emotionally associating crowds with empathic feelings of love and trust. How? Simply by accompanying the drug-taking client on a series of trips into increasingly crowded environments so that their knee-jerk reaction of horror can be replaced over time with a knee-jerk reaction of overwhelming curiosity, compassion and love.

Of course, the ideal treatment protocol will vary with the individual, when it comes to which drug(s) are to be used for such a purpose and how the encounters with crowds are to be managed, etc., but the kinds of protocols hinted at above are merely psychological common sense - or at least they would be had modern psychology not fallen under the spell of materialism which causes drug researchers to insist that all "real" cures must be found in brain chemistry5. This is why materialist doctors actually cannot decide if laughing gas could help the depressed6 - because they do not care about what the depressed actually feel and believe; instead the materialist pretends that they know more about what makes a person happy than the person themselves. They essentially say to the depressed today: "I'm the doctor: I'll tell you when you're REALLY happy, thank you very much."

And this brings up a crucial problem that even Drug War opponents have yet to recognize: namely, that medical doctors are not qualified to perform research on psychoactive medicines, except perhaps to tell us what are likely toxicities at given doses. The determination of proper protocols for such drugs should be made by empathic "psychonauts,"7 pharmacologically savvy "shaman" who take time to learn the attitudes and aspirations of their client and who use best practices based on their own actual experience with the drugs in question. "Clean and sober" medical doctors have no expertise in these areas, neither pharmacologically speaking nor psychologically speaking, as is clear given their dogmatic disdain for user accounts in the case of laughing gas. To a medical doctor, the user accounts are worthless because they are subjective, whereas the psychonaut realizes that subjectivity is the whole point of psychoactive therapy and that no such treatment can be effective if it ignores the feelings, desires and aspirations of the client.

The overarching point here is that agoraphobia - and indeed most so-called "mental health problems" - are NOT intractable - or at very least we have absolutely no right to say so in a country that has outlawed almost all the medicines that could help combat such conditions. That would be like outlawing antiviral medicine and then claiming that the flu was intractable. Nor are the drugs of Alexander Shulgin the only psychoactive substances that could conceivably help with agoraphobia. I speak from personal experience in saying that coca wine (at least the time-honored brand created by Angelo Mariani)8 can buoy mood and outlook, in such a way that its advised use could potentially help the sufferer to, as it were, gradually "wean themselves" off the feelings of mistrust and fear with which they associate crowds. Then, of course, there are the seemingly endless plants and fungi of mother nature, about which we know shamefully little so far, but whose vast untapped potential can be readily guessed at by anyone who peruses such books as "The Plants of the Gods" by Albert Hoffman9 or "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants," a book also partially edited by Albert Hoffman10, again reminding us of how few individuals have been able to violate drug-war taboos with relative impunity in order to provide facts instead of fear about the modern scapegoat called "drugs."

But the entire world is clueless thanks to its knee-jerk adoption of the Drug War ideology of substance demonization. A quick Google search on "agoraphobia" brings up seemingly exhaustive analyses of the condition on the Mayo Clinic website, the website for the NHS, WebMD and the National Institute of Mental Health, etc. They all present the condition as largely intractable, while offering shreds of hope based on various materialist protocols... and yet they all miss the point. They all ignore the many common sense drug-aided protocols that could be used to alter the agoraphobic's boiler-plate reaction to crowds. In fact, the failure of these websites to even mention drugs like the inspiring T-7 would strike readers as a glaring omission, were the readers themselves not living in a world wherein we have been taught from childhood to pretend that such substances do not even exist. For in the terminology of Charles Fort, such otherwise obvious treatments have been "damned" by both science and the world at large.11.

In light of this sad state of affairs, I no longer think of that distant relative of mine as a victim of agoraphobia, but rather as a victim of the war on drugs, that Christian Science ideology that prioritizes ignorance over human happiness.

Author's Follow-up: February 3, 2024

picture of clock metaphorically suggesting a follow-up

Most of the drugs that could be used to fight agoraphobia are non-addictive; however, even occasional opium smoking could work to allay agoraphobic responses, even though we have all been programmed to think of this as unthinkable. Nor is this a medical question: it is rather a question of priorities in life and what constitutes the good life. The question is: Is it better to live a sober life away from all crowds or an active life among people with the help of a potentially habit-forming drug like opium? Again, this is not a medical question, it is a question of what we value in life. It can be answered by no one but the agoraphobic themselves.


1 MAPS: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, (up)
2 Quass, Brian, Alexander Shulgin: American Hero, 2022 (up)
3 Shulgin, Alexander, PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story, Transform Press, New York, 1991 (up)
4 Shulgin, Alexander, PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story , Transform Press, (up)
5 Quass, Brian, Lord Save us from 'Real' Cures, 2023 (up)
6 Quass, Brian, Forbes Magazine's Laughable Article about Nitrous Oxide, 2022 (up)
7 Quass, Brian, Replacing Psychiatry with Pharmacologically Savvy Shamanism, 2020 (up)
8 Quass, Brian, Coca Wine, 2024 (up)
9 Schultes, Plants of the Gods:Origins of Hallucinogenic Use, 1979 (up)
10 Hoffman, Albert, The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications, Inner Traditions/Bear & Company, 2005 (up)
11 Fort, Charles, The Book of the Damned, (up)

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

America is insane: it makes liquor officially legal and then outlaws all the drugs that could help prevent and cure alcoholism.
Laughing gas is the substance that gave William James his philosophy of reality. He concluded from its use that what we perceive is just a fraction of reality writ large. Yet his alma mater (Harvard) does not even MENTION laughing gas in their bio of the man.
I might as well say that no one can ever be taught to ride a horse safely. I would argue as follows: "Look at Christopher Reeves. He was a responsible and knowledgeable equestrian. But he couldn't handle horses. The fact is, NO ONE can handle horses!"
The drug war tells us that certain drugs have no potential uses and then turns that into a self-fulfilling prophecy by outlawing these drugs. This is insanely anti-scientific and anti-progress. We should never give up on looking for positive uses for ANY substance.
The DEA conceives of "drugs" as only justifiable in some time-honored ritual format, but since when are bureaucrats experts on religion? I believe, with the Vedic people and William James, in the importance of altered states. To outlaw such states is to outlaw my religion.
There's a run of addiction movies out there, like "Craving!" wherein they actually personify addiction as a screaming skeleton. Funny, drug warriors never call for a Manhattan Project to end addiction. Addiction is their golden goose.
Over 45% of traumatic brain injuries are caused by horseback riding (ABC News). Tell your representatives to outlaw horseback riding and make it a federal offence to teach a child how to ride! Brought to you by the Partnership for a Death Free America.
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.
Of course, prohibitionists will immediately remind me that we're all children when it comes to drugs, and can never -- but never -- use them wisely. That's like saying that we could never ride horses wisely. Or mountain climb. Or skateboard.
In "The Book of the Damned," Charles Fort shows how science damns (i.e. excludes) facts that it cannot assimilate into a system of knowledge. Fort could never have guessed, however, how thoroughly science would eventually "damn" all positive facts about "drugs."
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