- Photofusion / Contributor/GettyImages
- In September, the Brooklyn Psychedelic Society hosted a “Plant Parenthood” event to educate moms and dads on how psychedelics can make a person a better – and more present – parent.
- Psychedelics have been shown to help people battling depression and anxiety by disrupting ruminative thought patterns, and enabling people to connect more deeply to the world around them.
- A number of parents at the “Plant Parenthood” event said that psychedelics have helped them to overcome childhood trauma and keep it from interfering with how they relate to their own children now.
- Visit Insider’s homepage to read more stories.
When Nina’s baby turned 1 last year, Nina quit her job working as a therapist. She realized she could no longer cope, let alone help her patients get through trying times.
Nina was still battling postpartum depression. When she held her daughter, she wanted to feel at peace the way she had always envisioned. But, instead, she was awash with dark memories of her traumatic childhood and sexual assault.
That’s when Nina started microdosing with LSD and mushrooms. It’s also when she finally started to feel some relief.
Psychedelics may help people overcome childhood trauma
“I realized how much I was reliving my childhood trauma through my own child,” Nina, who asked to use just her first name to protect her family’s privacy, told Insider. “It was affecting my mothering skills. I wanted the cycle of trauma to end with me.”
Nina, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, grew up homeless and often felt responsible for her mother’s hardships. She felt guilty that her mother endured a difficult pregnancy with her, and she constantly worried about her mother’s financial struggles.
Now, the 31-year-old microdoses a couple of times a week in sub-perceptual doses – very low amounts that don’t cause a user to experience a traditional “trip.” The precise amount is determined based on a person’s tolerance and body weight.
Nina said the experience has helped her to let go of some of her pain and refocus energy towards her daughter.
The mother of one is hardly alone in examining how psychedelics could help her become a better parent. Insider met Nina at a September event in Brooklyn called “Plant Parenthood,” which was an opportunity for moms and dads to learn more about the benefits of psychedelics.
- Jodie Love
Organized by Brooklyn Psychedelic Society, a group that educates about psychedelics, the event drew about 30 parents. Panelists, which included a poet, a church founder, and a lactation consultant, spoke from personal experience about how psychedelics can help people to overcome trauma, battle addiction, treat anxiety and depression, and simply feel more present.
Psychedelics help to disrupt ruminative thought patterns
Research into how psychedelics can be incorporated into a therapy setting began in the 1990s.
Psychedelics have been shown to disrupt the way people who are distressed think, and allow them to break out of depressive thought patterns. Psilocybin, which is similar in chemical makeup to LSD,targets the “default mode network” in the brain, and essentially causes that part of the mind to go “offline,” author Michael Pollan wrote in his book, “How to Change Your Mind,” which was excerpted in the Wall Street Journal.
In turn, the user is able to more effectively connect to other people and the world around them.
“All these disorders involve uncontrollable and endlessly repeating loops of rumination that gradually shade out reality and fray our connections to other people and the natural world,” Pollan wrote. “The ego becomes hyperactive, even tyrannical, enforcing rigid habits of thought and behavior – habits that the psychedelic experience, by loosening the ego’s grip, could help us to break.”
More than 30 million Americans are psychedelic users, according to a 2013 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. That figure has remained consistent since the 1970s, Matthew Johnson, associate professor of psychiatry at the John Hopkins Center for Psychedelic Research, told Insider.
Johnson said that many of his patients who have used the mind-altering drugs report feeling more present and having a better ability to refocus their priorities, especially when it comes to familial relationships.
Despite the purported benefits, Johnson doesn’t encourage the use of these substances to help with improving parenting techniques. However, he confirmed that the drugs are physiologically safe for most people: They’re non-addictive and it’s nearly impossible to overdose.
People with heart conditions, however, run the risk of experiencing elevated blood pressure and cardiac arrest. The drugs are also unsafe for people who have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other psychotic disorders, because they can lead to a psychotic break.
Psychedelics are generally safe, but they aren’t without risks
That being said, anybody who takes a high enough dose can have a “bad trip” which, though relatively rare, can lead to potentially dangerous behaviors. “I have a file folder full of cases where people have gotten into accidents or killed by the police because they were out of it and broke into a neighbor’s house,” Johnson said. Anxiety and depression can be exacerbated, even though there are anecdotes stating the opposite.
Experts across the board stress the importance of parents hiring a babysitter to care for their children while they’re using psychedelics.
- Wikimedia Commons
A number of parents at the Brooklyn event agreed that the drugs have helped them to relate to their children in a deeper way.
Many parents who use psychedelics say they want the cycle of trauma to stop with them
“Psychedelics have cleared the path between me and my son,” Nicholas Powers, a poet and journalist, said during the event. “This helps me listen to him.”
Others had similar experiences to Nina, saying that psychedelics allowed them to overcome issues from their childhoods, and keep them from interfering with their relationships with their children.
This was the case with Danny Allan, a 42-year-old filmmaker and father of one. Allan said he and his wife take a “hearty” dose of mushrooms once every few months. They aim to mimic indigenous shamanic ceremonial practices and used Ayahuasca, a drink used for spiritual purposes by Amazonian tribes, once during a retreat in Peru.
Allan said using these drugs has helped him to work through the issues he had with his own mother growing up. As a child, Allan often felt that his mother was detached and that having children disrupted the lifestyle she actually wanted. When he was a teenager, Allan’s mother changed gears and became more religious, and more controlling.
As a result of his experience, Allan said he was at times smothering to his 8-year-old son, because of his mother’s aloofness. At other times, he was detached in response to her controlling behaviors.
He said psychedelics have helped him to find an even ground with his child.
“When you do that internal work with the help of psychedelics, you can heal from childhood wounds,” Allan said, “and make your parenting decisions with love and empathy.”