#55: 🍺 Alcohol vs. 🌈 Psychedelics
Who would you rather be around at a party?
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💬 In this note:
🍺 Alcohol vs. 🌈 Psychedelics
📚 If Tomorrow Comes
⚡️ Bird Photos
🍺 Alcohol vs. 🌈 Psychedelics
A few weeks ago I was at a beach party, some might call it a beach rave…your choice.
At the party a friend and I were discussing how we were having such different interactions between people who clearly had too much alcohol to drink and people on psychedelics.
We started digging into the topic of how different their behavior is and halfway through the conversation my friend said, “You know what Nina… can you actually do a Nina’s Notes on drinkers vs psychedelics-users and when they clash?”
So here it is.
Alcohol and psychedelics influence the brain and body in different ways and the way that these substances affect behavior are distinct.
Due to these effects, the legality around these substances has been called into question around the globe.
Psychedelics (i.e. LSD, psilocybin, MDMA) are on the Schedule I list from the U.S. DEA because they were determined to have “no medical use.”
Alcohol, on the other hand, is legal to use after age 21 in the U.S. and 18 basically everywhere else in the world.
But…what is the “medical use” of alcohol? Other than as a disinfectant.
It’s addictive, sometimes destructive and can lead to behaviors which put the user into danger.
Surely this qualifies alcohol as a substance to be controlled?
Well, America tried prohibition - the equivalent of putting alcohol on the Schedule I list, and as we all know, it didn't work.
For the last century alcohol has been socially acceptable and it’s common to see people who have overindulged, stumbling home late at night and on the weekends.
Despite alcohol’s legality and acceptance, society tends to forget that it is still a drug.
And when we look at alcohol as a drug, it’s hard to believe that it remains legal while psychedelics have not.
The war on drugs and scare tactics in the media have portrayed psychedelics in such a negative light it has led to a misunderstanding and fear of the substances.
We are now in the age of psychedelic prohibition, just as people were with alcohol in the 20s, and in 50 years time I believe we will look back on this period and laugh saying - How did the government really think they could keep us from using these substances?
We have terms for someone who drinks or has drank too much alcohol - the Alcoholic / the Drunk.
We have terms for someone who smokes a lot of pot - the Stoner / the Pothead.
We have terms for someone on or addicted to narcotics - the Junkie / the Addict.
Do we have a term for someone who has taken psychedelics?
I’m struggling to find a word in English for someone currently on or who has taken psychedelics.
In my previous writings I’ve used the term psychonaut to refer to Terrance McKenna, an American ethnobotanist and mystic, who advocated the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants.
But the term psychonaut more specifically refers to someone who “explores altered states of consciousness.” So it’s not quite the right word for someone currently on or who uses psychedelics.
If there is a term in English or another language that you know, please drop it in the comments and educate me. Even Urban Dictionary couldn’t help me out here.
So for lack of an accepted word for someone on psychedelics, I’ll call them a “Psychedelics-User.”
Alcohol is widely accepted in many cultures and the effects it has on behavior are well-understood by the general public. So I won’t go into too much detail.
In short, a drinker may become more talkative and sociable, with some leaning on alcohol as a social lubricant.
Some drinkers use alcohol to relax and reduce anxiety.
And when someone has had too much alcohol, it may lead to poor decision making and risky behavior.
Some drinkers slur their speech, have unsteady movement and impaired motor skills.
Some become confrontational and aggressive when drunk.
And we all know that consuming too much alcohol in a short period of time can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal.
The behavior of psychedelics-users is however less widely known.
The experience while under the influence can be deeply emotional or spiritual. Users can appear more introspective and calm.
Some psychedelics may make the user wish to socialize one-on-one rather than in a larger group.
Some may boost sociability and lead the user to striking up conversations with new people and making new friends.
Psychedelics enhance sensory perception, making colors brighter, sounds more vivid and can lead to more inquisitive behavior.
A psychedelics-user will often want to explore the venue or space they are in. They tend to be playful with artful elements of the space or with toys and decorations, as tactile sensations are amplified.
Psychedelics-users may feel more creative and want to explore deeper topics of conversation, or simply express themselves creatively through music, art or dance.
On the other hand, psychedelics can sometimes lead to psychological distress. Users may experience anxiety or paranoia. They may wish to leave a crowded space, spend time alone or need support from friends to process the experience in the moment.
When They Clash
The energy levels of the two groups can be very different. The psychedelics-users are perhaps more introspective while the drinkers are more boisterous and outgoing.
What can lead to clashes is that psychedelics-users might perceive a situation differently than someone who's been drinking.
The perception of personal space and awareness of a crowd are very different while drinking vs using psychedelics.
For example, while at this beach rave, I was in a crowd listening to music and the first difference in behavior I noticed is that the drinkers will push their way through a crowd. They will usually spill a drink in the process or they will bump into you repetitively and simply not notice.
A psychedelics-user is more aware of personal space, when they want to get through the crowd typically they will smile at you, gently scoot by and sometimes do all this while dancing.
While different people will choose different ways to experience an event, it's essential for everyone to be aware of and respectful of each other's choices and states of mind.
Open communication, understanding, and setting clear boundaries can help reduce potential clashes and ensure a safer environment for everyone.
Psychedelics to Help with Alcohol Addiction
While the resulting behavior of drinkers and psychedelics-users after consumption can be different, and mixing psychedelics and alcohol is not recommended, there is a time when they can prove beneficial to each other, such as in the treatment of alcohol dependence.
Last year a study was published by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine which explored psilocybin as a treatment for excessive alcohol consumption.
Participants were diagnosed with alcohol dependence and consumed an average of 7 drinks per day on days when they drank.
48 patients received up to 3 doses of psilocybin and 45 patients received placebo.
All participants received up to 12 psychotherapy sessions.
Within 8 months from the start of their treatment, participants who were given psilocybin reduced their heavy drinking by 83% relative to their drinking before the study began.
That’s a decrease from 7 drinks a day to around 1 to 1.5.
Comparatively the participants who received placebo decreased their drinking by 50%.
Demonstrating the effectiveness of psychotherapy alone and the added benefit of the combination of psychedelic-assisted therapy.
The team will conduct a larger multicenter trial as more work needs to be done to determine the appropriate dosing before the drug is ready for widespread use.
While alcohol is widely accepted and psychedelics remain stigmatized, both substances are complex, cultural hot topics with effects that can range from elation to depression, and that effect can change the vibe of a party.
So, who would you rather be around at a party? Drinkers, psychedelics-users? Or do you like a mix?
I have to say, I really appreciate the respect of personal space from psychedelics-users, no pushing or shoving to get through a crowd and no or at least shorter (😉) queues at the bar, so I appreciate an event with more of a hippie vibe.
📚 Book of the Week
If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon
A quick and entertaining thriller, but not as good as Master of the Game.
In true Sidney Sheldon form, the book starts off with a cliffhanger.
Tracey Whitney is on the phone with her mother, they say goodbye and her mother kills herself.
Tracey races to her hometown in Louisiana for the funeral and gathers clues to what drove her mother to suicide. In an effort to avenge her mother after discovering there was foul play, Tracey finds herself in a maximum security prison for a crime she didn’t commit.
Determined to seek revenge upon the men who framed her, she sets out with an elaborate plan to escape prison and destroy her enemies.
⚡️ Check This Out
This viral tweet was sent to me several times this year.
I am exactly this person. My love of birds has only increased with age. But mostly it’s increased due to my introduction to the board game, Wingspan, which I have in turn introduced to the majority of my friend group. Hey Stonemaier Games, sponsorship plz?
Now my love of birds has me checking out the Bird Photographer of the Year competition.
Each year the Bird Photographer of the Year organization produces a high quality coffee-table book featuring the best images from the competition. This year has 300 images featured in the hardback collection. The perfect gift for all the new bird watchers in your life.
Edited by Wright Time Publishing