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Using plants and fungi to get off of antidepressants

an open letter to the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

June 19, 2024

ear Chacruna Institute1:

I wanted to give you a heads-up on a completely forgotten demographic in the psychedelic renaissance: people like myself who are stuck on antidepressants that turn out to be extremely difficult to quit. (The NIMH says that the Effexor2 that I am on has a 95% recidivism rate for long-term users who try to quit.) According to Julie Holland, 1 in 4 American women are dependent on antidepressants for life3. And the worst thing is, these people are all INELIGIBLE for help from psychedelics. This is supposedly because of a fear of a very rare issue called "serotonin syndrome,4" however, in my view, it is really because of a fear of lawsuits and bad publicity. So-called serotonin syndrome is easily detectable and treatable and is very rare, at least as a life-threatening condition.

I have just retired and want to use myself as a guinea pig to document how I can get off of Effexor using plant medicines and fungi, particularly huachuma5, peyote6 and psilocybin7. I will be documenting my efforts so that my ultimate success can help others, or at very least suggest new lines of research. Although I am not a doctor, I have some common psychological sense8, which is something that modern materialist doctors tend to lack9. (Materialist doctors still are not even sure that laughing gas could help the depressed!) I have read endless stories of how entheogens can inspire one in pursuing a goal, and I believe that this will apply to antidepressant withdrawal as much as to anything else.

I am telling you all this in case you can recommend some practical ways in which I can undertake this study. It looks like I would have to move to Canada to get legal access to peyote and huachuma, although the latter cactus can supposedly be grown legally in the States. Perhaps you have some ideas on how I can turn this into an "official" study and so get approval to use the necessary substances in the States.

There are many millions of antidepressant users who have been turned into eternal patients by the war on drugs, which outlawed everything but dependence-causing medicines for depression10. When doctors learned that these drugs caused dependence, they did not apologize. Instead, they flipped the script and told me that I had a medical duty to take these drugs every day of my life. I think it's a shame that this misused demographic that I am part of is the only demographic that no one is helping during the psychedelic renaissance. I hope to set an example that can start to change that.

If you have any suggestions, practical or otherwise, please let me know!

Author's Follow-up: June 19, 2024

picture of clock metaphorically suggesting a follow-up

Frankly, these are the kinds of letters that are usually ignored, or at best "sloughed off," but check back here in a week or so in case I am pleasantly surprised.


1 Chacruna Insititute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines,, 2024 (up)
2 Quass, Brian, This is your brain on Effexor, 2019 (up)
3 Holland, Julie, Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, from Soul to Psychedelics, HarperWave, New York, 2020 (up)
4 Simon, Leslie V., Serotonin Syndrome, NIH National Library of Medicine: National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2023 (up)
5 Lite, Scott, The Sacred Cactus of the Andes — “San Pedro” / “Huachuma”, 2021 (up)
6 Peyote Way Church of God, Inc., Plaintiff-appellant, v. William F. Smith, Attorney General of the United States , JUSTIA US LAW, (up)
7 Griffiths, William, Psilocybin: A Trip into the World of Magic Mushrooms, William Griffiths, Annapolis, 2021 (up)
8 Quass, Brian, Common Sense Drug Withdrawal, 2024 (up)
9 Quass, Brian, Getting Off of Big Pharma Meds Using Teacher Plants, 2024 (up)
10 Quass, Brian, How Psychiatry and the Drug War turned me into an eternal patient, 2021 (up)

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Previous essay: GK Chesterton on Prohibition

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

Many articles in science mags need this disclaimer: "Author has declined to consider the insights gained from drug-induced states on this topic out of fealty to Christian Science orthodoxy." They don't do this because they know readers already assume that drugs will be ignored.
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.
Mariani Wine is the real McCoy, with Bolivian coca leaves (tho' not with cocaine, as Wikipedia says). I'll be writing more about my experience with it soon. I was impressed. It's the same drink "on which" HG Wells and Jules Verne wrote their stories.
We need a scheduling system for psychoactive drugs as much as we need a scheduling system for sports activities: i.e. NOT AT ALL. Some sports are VERY dangerous, but we do not outlaw them because we know that there are benefits both to sports and to freedom in general.
Now drug warriors have nitrous oxide in their sights, the substance that inspired the philosophy of William James. They're using the same tired MO: focusing exclusively on potential downsides and never mentioning the benefits of use, and/or denying that any exist.
To put it another way: in a sane world, we would learn to strategically fight drugs with drugs.
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.
Both physical and psychological addiction can be successfully fought when we relegalize the pharmacopoeia and start to fight drugs with drugs. But prohibitionists do not want to end addiction, they want to scare us with it.
Besides, why should I listen to the views of a microbe?
Prohibition is a crime against humanity. It forces us to use shock therapy on the severely depressed since we've outlawed all viable alternatives. It denies medicines that could combat Alzheimer's and/or render it psychologically bearable.
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You have been reading an article entitled, Using plants and fungi to get off of antidepressants: an open letter to the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines, published on June 19, 2024 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)