RESOLUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
LSD in Medicine
Another book takes a different approach to LSD, studying it like the scientific wonder that it seems to be. Dr. Stanislav Grof studied the substance for some thirty years, starting in 1960 at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague. His book, LSD Psychotherapy draws on decades of scientific research worldwide into the effects of the drug on the human mind. He cites carefully controlled studies, which challenge traditional notions of human perception and consciousness, and even of the nature of our consensus reality itself.
In his accounts of many diverse and widespread experiences and studies of the past decades, Dr. Grof attempts to account for unusual mental states including near-death experiences and shamanic trances, for example. In later books, Dr. Grof goes on to expand his understanding of means of accessing such altered states of consciousness as he explores what he calls Holotropic Breathwork techniques, which involve using patterns of breath to induce mentally expansive states.
The Spirit Vine
While the fascination with the potential of LSD as a spiritual or therapeutic substance has largely passed in the US, many people continue to seek altered states through various means. Recently attention has focused on an ancient Amazonian substance known as ayahuasca, called the “Spirit Vine” by the indigenous people who have used it as a part of the spiritual practices. Many people have made trips to the Amazon jungle to participate in experiences led by native shamans.
All who have experienced ayahuasca speak with great respect for the powerful visions and altered states that it inspires in those who drink it. According to the indigenous peoples who have had centuries or millennia of experience with the natural brew, the worlds that are perceived by those who use the substance are literal realms, — other dimensions or realities apart from our own.
A scientist who approaches the subject with a more Western, rationalist viewpoint is Benny Shanon, an Israeli cognitive psychologist. In his book The Antipodes of the Mind: Charting the Phenomenology of the Ayahuasca Experience he studies the various known impacts on the mind of drinking the substance, ranging from psychological insights to hallucinatory effects that impact all senses to increased intellectual activity. Shanon discusses, as an example, the intense visual effects of an ayahuasca experience. He compares the visions to intense cinematic experiences that exceed the ordinary imagination.
While acknowledging the aboriginal belief in the literal nature of these perceived realms on a different dimension or plane of reality, Shanon prefers to account for them as extensions of the mind of the experiencer. As an example, he recounts an experience in which he seemed to tour an art exhibit from another culture. The art was absolutely unknown to him, not like anything he had seen in an art gallery or display. While it was all wildly unfamiliar in style and nature, it all still conformed to a coherent style within itself. The author was left with the question that remained with him and formed part of the core of his book: if all that he saw was (as he believes) within his mind, a creation of his consciousness, then his mind was far more powerful and creative than he had ever previously imagined.
It is with a spirit of both scientific inquiry and wonders at the nature of the ayahuasca experience that underlies the book. Shanon recounts other experiences that indicate what, for him, is the most unusual feature of the drug: its ability to spur new creative heights beyond what the individual was consciously aware of being capable of before the experience. Here again, the intrigue of the subject comes through vividly in the author’s words, regardless of whether the reader ever has or ever will experience the substance described.
The special reverence that the native shaman who administers the drug is a powerful statement of the potential importance of this exotic substance to the malaise of modern humanity. Perhaps humans will soon be ready to appreciate the value and wisdom available through expanded states of mind as many cultures have done in the past. The modern attitude of fear and legal repression surrounding mind-altering substances developed during the excesses and outbursts of the tumultuous 1960s, but modern humans are beginning perhaps to realize that the drugs themselves are not the problem.
Drugs and the Law
If you intend to go beyond reading about the fascinating social histories of drugs like LSD and ayahuasca, be warned that you could face serving penalties for possession or use of such substances. Even if you do not find yourself in legal trouble for having or using the drugs, you may face a drug test at some point. Court cases dealing with custody of children, some severe automobile accidents, and some workplaces can surprise you with a need to take a drug test.
Hair tests are less common but are used in some cases. Approximately one and a half inches of hair is needed for the test, which scans the hairs for drug residue within the hair. Some people think that shaving their head will avoid the test, but anybody hair will serve for the test, from arms, chest or anywhere the 1 1/2″ length of hair can be found on the body.
Hair tests have been controversial, as they have not proven totally effective at detecting various types of substances. You will have to use top hair detox shampoo to pass a hair follicle test. Cocaine is apparently easier to detect in hair samples than cannabis, for example. The type of hair makes a difference as well, raising racial profiling concerns, as thicker, darker, heavier hair is more likely to give a result than thinner, lighter colored hair. Even the effects of different shampoos have been tested and shown to alter the results of hair sample drug tests potentially.
Know Your Rights
Whether you’ve used drugs recently, in your past, or never, it pays to know your rights when it comes time to know how to pass a drug test. Groups like NORML and the ACLU provide basic information on the Internet and in publications that are available about your rights when it comes to drug testing.