Going on a trip that could be good for mental health

by | Mar 28, 2021 | Life

A little over a decade ago, Vancouver native Dr. Nicholas Wong hit rock bottom. Or as he describes, he was “burnt out.” He suffered from severe depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

The Dalhousie medical grad who was finishing his pediatric residency in Calgary took antidepressants and time off work.

It took Wong two years to get back on his feet with the help of a psychiatrist. Over time, Wong would find different occupations including with Apple Genius fixing computers. He even became an ontological life coach to heal himself and others while putting his medical degree to good use by working with other doctors.

Nevertheless Wong continuously felt a concerning level of fatigue and realized he couldn’t keep going on this path. He dove into different healing methods in 2017 to sort out his issues and began exploring with psychedelics, LSD in particular, which he always considered just a drug.

Instead it offered him a path to recovery. It seems there’s a growing understanding that psychedelics do have therapeutic role.

A recent medical study of 24 people conducted by John Hopkins University suggests Psilocybin capsules appear to offer medical help in improving their well-being and relieves depression.

The study published in last November’s Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry suggests psilocybin — the active ingredient in Magic Mushrooms — “may be effective in the much wider population of patients who suffer from major depression than previously appreciated.”

Two months after the study, 79 per cent of the test subjects said their well-being improved and a significant amount also said their attitudes and behaviours changed in a positive way with the psilocybin.

Wong felt “awakened” by his LSD trips and other plant medicines, and took his experiences and is now helping others achieve similar healing.

He is now an assistant healer and an intronaut concierge at Intronaut and at Magic Witnessing Meditation (MWM), organizations in Vancouver that treat people’s mental health with the aid of psychedelics. Intronaut is a play on the word astronaut, but instead explores and an intronaut concierge guides an individual’s healing.

The two facilities were founded by Lana and Ivan Rados nearly three decades ago, couple who’ve devoted their lives to helping people explore themselves like they did.

Lana is a well-decorated clinical psychologist with experience in various mental health and trauma therapies, while Ivan is a meditation master and spiritual guide as well as an author of several books pertaining to meditation and spirituality.

Psilocybin, LSD and other psychedelic drugs — like peyote which have been used in ancient healing methods — are being offered by organizations such as Intronaut in controlled cases in B.C. and in Alberta under the watchful eye of Health Canada.

Wong said it is because “psychedelics don’t just concern themselves with the symptoms, but they also attack the root causes of people’s problems.”

The non-profit organization Canadian Psychedelic Association gathered 15,000 signatures to decriminalize healing plants and psychedelics alike such as psilocybin, LSD and Ketamine.

Another non-profit organization, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies Canada (MAPS), also based in Vancouver, is entering the final phases of clinical trials for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat people suffering from PTSD.

MAPS, CPA and Intronaut have been pioneers in the study, research and building the general acceptance that psychedelics have redeeming qualities although they remain listed as Schedule One drugs by Canada, similar to opioids.

Michael Oliver, with MAPS, believes this is because so much has been invested in the war on drugs that there is still the general belief that all drugs are bad and should be avoided, even when research shows how they could be helpful.

Oliver believes psychedelic therapy is a much more effective method than regular one-on-one therapy or taking medication. Psychedelics help people to analyze their own lives and well-being by exploring their own consciousness and spirituality.

Wong said even a bad trip could be beneficial, and in a way, that’s the point.

“Psychedelics do a great job of breaking down a person’s defaults and sort of recreating their world,” he said.

Although there are many pros to psychedelic therapy there are still always some concerns.

Wong and Oliver stress the dangers of psychedelics in the wrong hands. And Wong said despite healing many people he understands it may not be for everyone.

Oliver said people should research and study psychedelics as much as they can before going through the process of psychedelic therapy. They should understand their personal circumstances and avoid going into it blindly because it is a serious undertaking.

He said taking psychedelics should be done with proper medical oversight.

Wong is ecstatic with all the breakthroughs that have taken place. Nevertheless, he suspects there is much more to learn about psychedelic therapy.

“What we do know is only a tip of the iceberg to what we don’t know,” he said.