A drug for all seasons – psychedelics through the ages (well from youth to old age!)
Dr Adam R Winstock
Founder Global Drug survey and Consultant Psychiatrist
Some mates of mine visited from overseas this year. Sensible, educated, law abiding, employed with diverse cultural and musical tastes, they were in their late 50s and early 60s. They were on their way to a festival in the British countryside. Although I knew they liked a drink, I knew that some had broader tastes so asked them if they would be taking drugs at the festival. I told them about high dose MDMA pills and to go easy if they decided to dabble. They looked at me aghast. We’re too old for stimulants they said. Cholesterol, high blood pressure and expanding waist lines made chuffing lines of cocaine and dropping pills way too stressful and risky. So just beers then? Pretty much they said but with a few mushrooms added in just to add sparkle to the night and offer some energy to see them through the night. Really? Yep they said low dose trips are the party drug use of choice for us oldies – safe, familiar and fun. They weren’t dosing to find spiritual enlightenment or even to see dancing matchboxes – but just enough to lighten their senses. When it comes to psychedelics, as with most drugs, dose is everything. It is easy to forget that most traditional psychedelic drugs as well as exerting action at the 5HT2 receptors also cause the release of monoamines (the chemical transmitters dopamine and noradrenaline) something typical of stimulant type drugs. In fact, a common presentation among those seeking emergency medical treatment with these drugs is markedly elevated pulse rate and levels of arousal.