1) Let's not rush to dismiss the dissociative state as a mere "side effect" of ketamine. Recent research suggests that it is precisely this dissociative state that helps the user rise above the so-called "default mode network" in their brain, thus enabling them to see their problems in a new, more creative light.
Let's not let today's materialist bias in science bring us to rashly assume that the psychedelic aspect of the ketamine experience is something that we should try to dispense with. It may be the goose that lays the golden therapeutic eggs.
UPDATE February 23, 2022:
I am now using Ketamine nasal spray, and I can assure the critics that it is PRECISELY the disassociation that is THERAPEUTIC. It allows me a brief glorious escape from my eternally introspective mind -- it lets me see things outside of the limiting prism of my own otherwise troubled self-image. If Ketamine had no disassociative effects, it would be useless to me. With those effects, it is useful to me in two ways: first when actually used, of course-- second, it is useful as a mere presence: merely to know that this relief is "nearby" is a godsend for those with a negatively introspective mind. Not even using it, but knowing it is there, makes it easier to forge ahead.
2) The negative attitudes toward psychedelics that you reference are a mere artifact of the Drug War, during which the Drug Warrior has considered hyperbole and lies to be fair game in their fanatical efforts to denounce all illegal psychoactive substances. The Partnership for a Drug Free America bamboozled a whole generation of Americans with their ad which featured an egg sizzling on a frying pan while the deep-throated voice-over warned the viewer that "This is your brain on drugs."
This was an outright lie when it comes to psychedelics. Far from frying your brain, drugs like psilocybin, ayahuasca, and even ketamine have been shown to grow new neural pathways, new neural connections, and even new neurons.
Ironically, the "frying pan ad" would make sense if its purpose were to warn us about Effexor, a standard SSRI anti-depressant which has turned out to cause chemical dependency and anhedonia in long-term users. As a long-term user myself, I actually do have the feeling that Effexor is, slowly but surely, frying my brain. It's certainly not providing me with any creative insights into my condition here on planet earth, as psychedelics have been shown to do.
3) As for those in the survey who "wouldn't touch psychedelics," let's ask them again when they are considering psychedelic therapy as an alternative to committing suicide. Hopefully at that time, they won't be so bamboozled by our Drug War superstitions as to opt for the latter of those two choices.
4) Like most articles about treating depression, this one downplays the problems with the status quo. Commonly prescribed SSRIs such as Effexor create such a chemical dependence that users literally cannot kick the habit (according to a recent report by the NIH, which shows a relapse rate of 95% in those who attempt to "kick" Effexor after long-term use). It's amazing that I have to actually point out that this is a problem, so convinced are most Americans that the drug-war status quo is some kind of rationally considered baseline that we must accept without analysis.
Once America has a level playing field in which all drugs are legal, the doctor's goal will no longer be for a treatment to help a patient "get by" in life, but for a treatment will help them THRIVE.
As for Prozac, the question in the new age of psychedelic therapy will no longer be: does Prozac "work," but does Prozac help you "be all that you can be"? The answer, from my experience, is a definitive no. To the contrary, Prozac seems to help you be all that SOMEONE ELSE can be, by actually changing one's personality for the worse. Perhaps you've heard the story of the news reporter who was at first optimistic because Prozac made him happy, only to realize that it also made him shockingly unemotional at his own parent's funeral.
5) Finally, the price point for legal ketamine treatment is an outrage and points to a fundamental problem with the current healthcare system in America, if not the world. A depressed person of modest means might scrape together the 3,000 required for an initial two-week session of ketamine infusions, but only a depressed fat-cat will be able to afford the biweekly follow-ups of ketamine spray at $600 a pop. Meanwhile a street dose of the drug costs a mere $8.
Given that outrageous price disparity, can we really blame the depressed for violating our superstitious drug laws in order to access crucial treatment? It is not the safe route, of course, but it is the one that we are encouraging with our current Nixonian drug policies and their disastrous effects on drug availability and pricing.
Author's Follow-up: June 18, 2023
Keep in mind, reader, that Drug War lies can cut both ways. Any illegal substance is bound to be lied about through demonization. But any legal substance is bound to be lied about via self-interested corporate hype. The more I learn about the long-term effects of ketamine, the more I'm convinced that it would be one of the last substances to be legalized if we were judging substances fairly.
Of course, criminalization is the whole problem -- because mendacity is the handmaiden of prohibition. We need nothing more than total honesty about all substances -- based on a large and evergrowing database of actual real-life user reports such as those being amassed right now by Erowid. All I'm saying here is that, if criminalization DID make sense, then ketamine should be one of the very last substances to be legalized, if ever.
You can use morphine, heroin or opium daily for your entire life and have perfect health -- yes, even improved health and fairly complete protection from common colds into the bargain. You can't use ketamine daily for more than half a year without encountering urinary problems. That's why the Drug War is so bogus: not just because it lies about illegal drugs to disparage them, but because it lies about legal drugs as well, in this case to make them fly off the shelves, so to speak. Drug warriors just can't bring themselves to tell simple unadorned truth about substances, whether their motivation is an unacknowledged belief in Christian Science or in an unbridled and amoral capitalism.
That said, legalizing ketamine would be no problem whatsoever if Drug Warriors and their greedy capitalist alter egos would start telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about all psychoactive substances -- yes, including tobacco, alcohol and Big Pharma antidepressants.
Buy the Drug War Comic Book by Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans
PSYCHIATRY AND THE DRUG WAR
Imagine the Vedic people shortly after they have discovered soma. Everyone's ecstatic -- except for one oddball. "I'm not sure about these experiences," says he. "I think we need to start dissecting the brains of our departed adherents to see what's REALLY going on in there."
The search for SSRIs has always been based on a flawed materialist premise that human consciousness is nothing but a mix of brain chemicals and so depression can be treated medically like any other physical condition.
"I can take this drug that inspires me and makes me compassionate and teaches me to love nature in its byzantine complexity, or I can take Prozac which makes me unable to cry at my parents' funeral. Hmm. Which shall it be?" Only a mad person in a mad world would choose SSRIs.
We don't need people to get "clean." We need people to start living a fulfilling life. The two things are different.
Sana Collective Group committed to making psychedelic therapy available to all regardless of income.
You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at abolishthedea.com. Brian is the founder of The Drug War Gift Shop, where artists can feature and sell their protest artwork online. He has also written for Sociodelic and is the author of The Drug War Comic Book, which contains 150 political cartoons illustrating some of the seemingly endless problems with the war on drugs -- many of which only Brian seems to have noticed, by the way, judging by the recycled pieties that pass for analysis these days when it comes to "drugs." That's not surprising, considering the fact that the category of "drugs" is a political category, not a medical or scientific one.
A "drug," as the world defines the term today, is "a substance that has no good uses for anyone, ever, at any time, under any circumstances" -- and, of course, there are no substances of that kind: even cyanide and the deadly botox toxin have positive uses: a war on drugs is therefore unscientific at heart, to the point that it truly qualifies as a superstition, one in which we turn inanimate substances into boogie-men and scapegoats for all our social problems.
The Drug War is, in fact, the philosophical problem par excellence of our time, premised as it is on a raft of faulty assumptions (notwithstanding the fact that most philosophers today pretend as if the drug war does not exist). It is a war against the poor, against minorities, against religion, against science, against the elderly, against the depressed, against those in pain, against children in hospice care, and against philosophy itself. (For proof of that latter charge, check out how the US and UK have criminalized the substances that William James himself told us to study in order to understand reality.) It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions (like the Vedic), Nazifies the English language (referring to folks who emulate drug-loving Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin as "scumbags") and militarizes police forces nationwide (resulting in gestapo SWAT teams breaking into houses of peaceable Americans and shouting "GO GO GO!").
(Speaking of Nazification, L.A. Police Chief Daryl Gates thought that drug users should be shot. What a softie! The real hardliners are the William Bennetts of the world who want drug users to be beheaded instead. That will teach them to use time-honored plant medicine of which politicians disapprove! Mary Baker Eddy must be ecstatic in her drug-free heaven, as she looks down and sees this modern inquisition on behalf of the drug-hating principles that she herself maintained. I bet she never dared hope that her religion would become the viciously enforced religion of America, let alone of the entire freakin' world!)
In short, the drug war causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, meanwhile violating the Natural Law upon which Thomas Jefferson founded America. (Surely, Jefferson was rolling over in his grave when Ronald Reagan's DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated the founding father's poppy plants.)
If you believe in freedom and democracy, in America and around the world, please stay tuned for more philosophically oriented broadsides against the outrageous war on godsend medicines, AKA the war on drugs.
PS The drug war has not failed: to the contrary, it has succeeded, insofar as its ultimate goal was to militarize police forces around the world and help authorities to ruthlessly eliminate those who stand in the way of global capitalism. For more, see Drug War Capitalism by Dawn Paley. Oh, and did I mention that most Drug Warriors these days would never get elected were it not for the Drug War itself, which threw hundreds of thousands of their political opposition in jail? Trump was right for the wrong reasons: elections are being stolen in America, but the number-one example of that fact is his own narrow victory in 2016, which could never have happened without the existence of laws that were specifically written to keep Blacks and minorities from voting. The Drug War, in short, is a cancer on the body politic.
PPS 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."
Rather than apologetically decriminalizing selected plants, we should be demanding the immediate restoration of Natural Law, according to which "The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being." (John Locke)
Andrew, Christopher "The Secret World: A History of Intelligence" 2019 Yale University Press
Aurelius, Marcus "Meditations" 2021 East India Publishing Company
Bache, Christopher "LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven" 2019 Park Street Press