Revelations that NFL star Aaron Rodgers was using psychedelic drugs to boost his performance were just the latest celebrity endorsement of mind-altering drugs, which were taboo for decades but are quickly entering the American mainstream.
Rodgers, 38, who says the South American hallucinogenic ayahuasca helped in his “best season” in the NFL, joins a growing roster of athletes, celebrities and California tech experts praising the performance-enhancing properties of psychedelics.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback was comfortable discussing his drug use openly on a podcast — a sign of the growing social acceptance of psychedelics, which were frowned upon for decades and sent users to jail.
The drugs are also gaining fans among scientists, politicians, and therapists who treat depressed patients and veterans with PTSD. But for many parents, they are a danger that can suck their children into a gritty underworld.
“There’s a big shift, but it’s a shift to normal,” Dr. Zach Walsh, a University of British Columbia scientist who studies how psychedelics counteract stress and improve mood and performance, told DailyMail.com.
A healer serves a hallucinogenic ayahuasca brew in South America; and a jar of psilocybin mushrooms alongside a pill form of the drug, which therapists say may help sufferers of depression and PTSD
“For thousands of years, these drugs have been part of civil society, rites of passage and medicine. One day we will look back and be confused as to why we have banned psychedelics and allowed substances like alcohol.”
Speaking on the Aubrey Marcus Podcast this week, Rodgers opened up about his use of ayahuasca — a psychoactive tea containing the hallucinogen DMT — during a trip to South America for his celebrated 2020 and 2021 seasons.
The drug — a controlled substance that is illegal to possess or distribute in the US — helped him win the MVP award twice, improved his mental health and taught him to “love himself unconditionally,” he said.
He joined celebrities who sip ayahuasca, such as pop punk musician Machine Gun Kelly, Miley Cyrus and Will Smith, who in his 2021 autobiography, Will, called his high the “unparalleled greatest feeling” of his life.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness website Goop.com promote a chic ayahuasca retreat in Costa Rica, Joe Rogan often lauden DMT in his podcasts and Tesla founder Elon Musk has posted that psychedelics are making a “real difference to mental health… we need to take this seriously.”
Even Brooklyn boxer Mike Tyson spoke last year about the “great drug” of psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms that helped him recover from dark times, such as the infamous ear-biting moment in his 1997 fight against Evander Holyfield.
Psychedelics — mind-altering drugs including DMT, psilocybin, LSD and MDMA — have come a long way since the 1960s, when The Beatles sang about tripping on LSD and Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary urged Americans to “turn on, tune in, to turn off’ .
However, instead of mainstreaming the drugs, hippie culture sparked moral panic, the government crackdown on drugs, and the cessation of promising research into the therapeutic value of psychedelics.
A California-based research and education group developing treatments involving psychedelics and marijuana. Research says the drugs benefit many patients, but are not for everyone
Today, 28 percent of Americans have tried a psychedelic, researchers at YouGov found it last month. The most popular were LSD, used by 14 percent, and psilocybin, used by 13 percent. Lawyers are more concentrated in the western US
While there is little national support for decriminalizing psychedelics, 54 percent of respondents said psychedelics should be used to help military personnel suffering from PTSD.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is now conducting clinical trials with psilocybin. The administration of President Joe Biden expects regulators to approve psilocybin and MDMA for antidepressant therapy within a few years, says a letter leaked to The Intercept.
There are movements in at least two dozen states — both red and blue — to study, decriminalize, or legalize some psychedelics, ranging from California to New York, Vermont, Utah, Kansas, and Florida.
Colorado’s voters will decide in November whether to approve state-regulated “healing centers” where people over 21 can receive therapeutic psilocybin. Oregon will begin licensing such clinics next year, after voters backed a measure in November 2020.
Changing attitudes towards psychedelics are at least partly driven by a growing body of positive research from universities.
dr. Walsh and his colleagues found it last month that small amounts of psilocybin made users happier and less stressed than others. Older microdosers, as small dose users are called, showed improved dexterity.
A study from the University of California – San Francisco from April revealed that psilocybin improves the brain function of depressed people and frees them from ‘rumination and excessive self-focus’.
Yet researchers from the University of North Carolina last month found it that psychedelics weren’t for everyone. Despite “dramatically positive results” for some users, others felt nothing but a “long strange journey,” they said.
The risk of addiction or overdose is considered low with psychedelics, but there are psychological risks beyond a bad trip. Those with mental illness or a family history of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder should be wary.
Many parents are not yet convinced. A self-proclaimed “heartbroken mother” told DailyMail.com of her daughter who started using cannabis, thanks to pharmacies “every few miles” in their native Oregon, and switched to LSD and MDMA.
The 16-year-old has received mysterious $800 credit card bills, has been suspended from school, is being charged with drug trafficking and hospitalized after being found unconscious on a roadside late at night,” the concerned mother said.
“Now she is emaciated, malnourished, has asthma problems and repeated eye infections, coughs up black gunk and can barely pass a class,” added the woman, who we decided not to name.
“I don’t even expect her to graduate high school right now.”
Dried hallucinogenic mushrooms with psilocybin. Hippie culture caused moral panic in the 1960s, but today mushrroms are endorsed by a growing list of influencers, politicians and therapists