What Does Dr. Julian Somers Actually Believe?

What does Dr. Julian Somers actually believe? Dr. Julian Somers is a researcher and professor in the mental health and addiction field in British Columbia, Canada. He is currently a professor at Simon Fraser University and serves as the Research Director of the Mental Health and Addictions Research Program. In addition to his research, Julian has received numerous awards and recognitions for his contributions to the field of mental health, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Applied Public […]

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Lucy Files with Health Canada To Manufacture Cocaine, Heroin

Forget ketamine- and MDMA-assisted therapies: A psychedelics manufacturing company is moving forward with cocaine and heroin—with an end goal to fight fentanyl overdoses and drug addiction.

British Columbia-based Lucy Scientific Discovery, a psychedelics manufacturing company focused primarily on emerging psychotropics-based medicines, announced today in a press release that it has filed an amendment to its current Dealer’s License with Health Canada. The amendment would add cocaine and heroin to its existing list of approved substances the company is authorized to manufacture.

Lucy already is authorized through Health Canada to manufacture several controlled substances, including the psychedelics psilocybin, MDMA, LSD, psilocin, N,N-DMT, mescaline, and 2C-B. Adding cocaine and heroin to the portfolio could lead to treatments to fight addiction.

“We look forward to a time when Lucy can safely supply harm reduction programs globally, aiming to reduce lethal and or negative consequences associated with adulterated drug supply, particularly considering that fentanyl overdose is the leading cause of deaths among 18 to 45-year-olds in the United States,” said Lucy CEO Chris McElvany. “It’s time to realize that the failed war on drugs has caused additional harm to the masses worldwide, and harm reduction programs will lead to less death and more treatment options in the long term.” 

It reflects a sea of change in the way controlled substances are being explored for potential benefits in the field of medicine. With more focus on a public health response to the drug crisis, the company can provide more opportunities for people who use substances to gain access to more harm reduction and treatment options. 

Lucy’s Dealer’s License under Part J of the Food and Drug Regulations of the Food and Drugs Act (Canada) was issued by Health Canada’s Office of Controlled Substances. 

The license enables Lucy to develop, sell, deliver, and manufacture via extraction or synthesis certain pharmaceutical-grade ingredients. The company also works with active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) that are used in controlled substances as raw material precursors.  

The company works with raw materials, crude extracts, targeted formulations, single-molecule fractions, as well as white label and private label products. 

Alternative therapies to control overdoses are needed now more than ever: The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collects data on deaths involving drugs commonly associated with fatal overdoses. 

Over 106,000 people in the U.S. died from drug-involved overdoses in 2021, mostly due to prescription opioids as well as illegal drugs, the CDC says, according to the latest available data. 

Lucy Launches IPO

Lucy commenced trading on the Nasdaq Capital Market on Feb. 9 under LSDI. Lucy announced the closing of its IPO on Feb. 13 for gross proceeds of approximately $7.5 million. After going public with an IPO, Lucy’s leadership believes the company can impact the field of psychedelic medicine.

Lucy also announced today that McElvany, Richard Nanula, Executive Chairman of Lucy, and other members of the company’s board of directors and leadership team will ring the Nasdaq closing bell to celebrate its new IPO. 

“We are excited to celebrate this victory at Nasdaq’s iconic bell ringing ceremony, as today marks an important milestone for the Company,” McElvany stated. “We are pleased to celebrate many months of hard work and team effort that led to the successful completion of our IPO. Seeing Lucy, a pioneer in psychedelics manufacturing, take the next step in its development by becoming the first psychedelics manufacturing company to be listed on NASDAQ is a huge accomplishment. This milestone marks a significant step in the company’s growth and plans for expansion. We look forward to the opportunities ahead of us to continue working on improving mental health and finding sustainable solutions for treatment.”

Stay tuned to see where Lucy goes in this latest development.

Disclaimer: High Times is an affiliate of Lucy Scientific Discovery, Inc.

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This Activity is Dangerous

This activity is dangerous. Full stop. On average, approximately 42,000 people in North America die of it every year. Lack of experience plays a critical role. Newcomers may not have the skills or knowledge to handle certain situations. They may not anticipate the hazards we associate with this activity. They may have difficulty navigating unfamiliar experiences. A lack of knowledge of the laws and regulations can lead to mistakes. A lack of confidence in their abilities can lead to unwise […]

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Fentanyl Crisis Behind Record Homeless Death Toll in Seattle

People living in homeless conditions in Seattle, Washington are dropping dead left and right, mostly thanks to fentanyl and its knack for causing sudden death by overdose.

Seattle Times reports that according to medical examiner records, a record-setting 310 people died while homeless in Seattle and throughout King County, Washington during 2022. Over half of those deaths, or 160 of them, are fentanyl overdose-related.

That means that fentanyl-related deaths amounted to more than accidents, natural deaths, homicide, suicide, pending, and undetermined deaths combined.

The number reflects a 65% jump over 2021 and an increase of over 100 people from the previous record set in 2018, with 195 deaths. The shocking numbers are alarming public health officials in the area. REACH is an organization in Seattle battling homelessness, providing people with meals, healthcare, and drug addiction tools.

“That’s just appalling,” Chloe Gale, policy and strategy vice president for REACH, told Seattle Times. An estimate of the scope of homelessness in the County last year found that 13,368 people were living outside.

Previously, in December 2020 the area set a recent record for the most people dying without housing in a single month, with 29 deaths. In 2021, 188 people experiencing homelessness died. 

Usually, it isn’t the cold that kills people who are living in homeless conditions. Examiners frequently found a combination of fentanyl and other drugs in the system of people who have overdoses, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The end is nowhere in sight for public health officials. “Maybe we’re plateauing at a really bad rate and maybe it’s going to get worse,” said Brad Finegood, who heads an opioid and overdose response for Public Health, “I don’t know when it’s going to stop.” 

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said despite the rise in overdoses, his administration is pushing to get more people indoors, working in collaboration with the King County Regional Homelessness Authority. 

King County officials said they have recently directed Public Health – Seattle & King County to work with the county’s Department of Community and Human Services and the King County Regional Homeless Authority to help homeless service providers learn more about what’s working and what’s not working to lower the risk of fatal overdoses among people living in homeless conditions.

Last year, Public Health – Seattle & King County distributed over 10,000 naloxone kits, and about 100,000 fentanyl test strips in an effort to reduce deaths. The agency is continuing to promote public awareness campaigns for similar efforts regarding people experiencing homelessness.

Homeless Drug Addiction Efforts

The cannabis industry has gotten creative through the years with ways to do its part to help combat drug addiction involving powerful narcotics such as fentanyl.

Commissioners in Clark County, Nevada passed a resolution in 2019 allocating almost $1.8 million from the local commercial cannabis industry to help subsidize programs dedicated to providing assistance to the homeless. A little more than $930,000 of the earmarked money was provided to HELP of Southern Nevada’s rehousing services.

A California homeless shelter gained 100 new beds in 2019 thanks to donations from cannabis dispensaries in the Ventura County, California community. The five licensed dispensaries that contributed to the cause were Emerald Perspective, Hueneme Patient Collective, SafePort, Tradecraft Ventures, and SkunkMasters, which donated $17,500 of the $25,000 in donations that were raised. 

In the interest of harm reduction San Francisco, healthcare workers in 2020 administered limited amounts of certain substances such as cannabis and alcohol to people experiencing homelessness and addiction.

The San Francisco Department of Health said doing this actually helps keep the addicts in isolation and, thus, prevents the potential spread of COVID.

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Poilievre Misdiagnoses Opioid Crisis

Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre misdiagnoses the opioid crisis in the latest video, “Everything Feels Broken.” In the five-minute video, Poilievre uses a Vancouver tent city as his backdrop to make a case for the drug war. For a decade, British Columbia (among other Canadian cities) has provided a clean, safe supply of drugs for the addicted. He calls it a “failed experiment” brought in by “woke Liberal and NDP governments,” before saying he’ll end this policy and instead put […]

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Decriminalize Nature and Students For Sensible Drug Policy Create a Community Healing Alliance

Two advocacy organizations are coming together to decriminalize entheogens and continue fighting against the War on Drugs. Decriminalize Nature (DN) and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) announced in a press release on January 27 that they are partnering up to target entheogen decriminalization and put an end to the War on Drugs by creating a Community Healing Alliance.

Both of these organizations have a longstanding history with drug advocacy, and this collaboration will no doubt strengthen the cause. As SSDP Board Member and also co-director of DN Michigan, Myc Williams believes that this partnership is essential to push progress forward. “A national alliance of these two organizations is a unique opportunity to tackle the harms of the drug war from all sides,” Williams said. “We are paving a path of unity that addresses both the injustices of current drug policy and provides accessible avenues for healing from the traumas that have occurred as a result.”

Many other people involved in this cause, such as SSDP Executive Director Jason Ortiz, are confident that this is the dawn of a new campaign. “We are uniting today to build the power needed to correct the profit driven framing being forced on us by corporations and their countless lobbyists,” said Ortiz. “This alliance will pair youth leaders with community practitioners to ensure that decriminalization and reparations are the priority for the drug policy movement as we end the disastrous and malicious war on drugs. Wherever they have a lobbyist, we will have an organized community ready to meet them.”

Additionally, many other DN and SSDP members of various roles provided hopeful statements about the Community Healing Alliance. One of the founding members of DN, Larry Norris, mentioned that DN and SSDP have worked together before in the past, but this official move to bind together will bolster support even more. Likewise, DN National Board Member Julie Barron shared her excitement to see what the two organizations will accomplish for people who are in need of support and healing.

Through many research studies, there is evidence that incarceration for drug possession or use does not improve public health and safety. A study conducted in January 2010, entitled “Treating Drug Abuse and Addiction in the Criminal Justice System: Improving Public Health and Safety,” suggested that convicting people of drug-related crimes simply spotlights the need to focus on other ways target the problem. “Punishment alone is a futile and ineffective response to drug abuse, failing as a public safety intervention for offenders whose criminal behavior is directly related to drug use,” the study concludes. “Addiction is a chronic brain disease with a strong genetic component that in most instances requires treatment. The increase in the number of drug-abusing offenders highlights the urgency to institute treatments for populations involved in the criminal justice system.” Furthermore, there are studies suggesting that prison therapy to treat drug addictions can be harmful, not helpful, to an individual’s recovery.

Both DN and SSDP have accomplished many things over the years. DN is newer to the advocacy scene, having been founded in Oakland in 2019, but its efforts have grown rapidly and there are chapters in over 50 cities in the U.S. Over these last few years, the organization has helped decriminalize entheogens in 14 cities. Its mission is to improve the lives of people interested in using entheogenic plants as a natural alternative to medical treatment, and also expand access by advocating for decriminalization “through political and community organizing, education and advocacy.”

Many chapters have been actively working on decriminalization efforts in their jurisdictions since last year. The Decriminalize Nature Boulder Chapter in Colorado has recently been working to change the language of a decriminalization effort aimed for the ballot next year. Decriminalize Nature Michigan spearheaded a signature gathering campaign last year.

SSDP on the other hand was founded in 1998, which now includes thousands of youth members and over 100 chapters throughout the U.S. The organization seeks to empower new generations to not only learn about and participate in politics, but to embolden their advocacy by fighting against causes that might harm other students or youth members in general.

To support this grassroots effort, feel free to learn more about what these organization stand for or donate to the cause for SSDP or DP.

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Weed Withdrawal: Is This Actually a Thing?

We are constantly cautioned by the government about the addictive capacity of marijuana, but in the real world, these cautions seem a little confusing. While it’s now talked about often, the realities of weed withdrawal may not be relevant to the fears surrounding it, much like with cannabis in general. Is weed withdrawal a thing? And is it really a thing worth concerning ourselves about?

Is weed withdrawal really a thing? And is it a thing to worry about? Look at the world around, and judge for yourself if this is something you should be concerned with. Thousands of years of weed use does tell us something, so if you’re not having a problem, you’ll probably be just fine (according to history)! These days, its not even just about standard weed anymore. With the inclusion of the cannabinoids market, and compounds like delta-8 THC, THCV, and HHC (among others), there are tons of options to try out. Make sure to subscribe to The THC Weekly Newsletter for exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and more! Also save big on HHC-O, Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!

What is withdrawal?

According to VeryWellMind, withdrawal is: “the combination of physical and mental effects that a person experiences after they stop using or reduce their intake of a substance such as alcohol and prescription or recreational drugs.” Some withdrawals can lead to minor irritations like restlessness, or lack of appetite. More extreme withdrawals like with alcohol, can lead to delirium tremens – aka ‘the shakes’ or ‘DTs‘, which can be a deadly condition.

Continues VeryWellMind: “If you have been using a substance with a high potential for dependency and you stop suddenly or abruptly or you cut down your use drastically, you can experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms. The intensity and duration of these withdrawal symptoms can vary widely, depending on the type of drug and your biological make-up.”

The site lists the following symptoms as general symptoms of drug withdrawal: “Changes in appetite, changes in mood, congestion, fatigue, irritability, muscle pain, nausea, restlessness, runny nose, shakiness, sleeping difficulties, sweating, tremors, vomiting.” It goes on to list what are considered more severe symptoms: “hallucinations, seizures, delirium may also occur in some instances”. And the site goes on to explain: “The type of drug you were taking, the amount of time you were taking it, and the dosage you were taking can all have an effect on the type and severity of the symptoms you experience.”

drug withdrawal

We’re all familiar with the idea that when a friend quits smoking, they get a little irritable, and possibly a little mean, temporarily. And when you stopped drinking coffee for a week, you had that headache that wouldn’t go away. Those who go back and forth with these substances, know the drill. Just like we’ve all seen movies (or real-life instances) of someone going through heroine withdrawal, crying at whoever is keeping them ‘captive’, and begging with squirrely eyes for just one more hit.

We even know people will go as far as prostituting themselves, and selling everything they own, to stave off the sickness of withdrawal. And we know that in the worst cases of opioid and alcohol addictions, that withdrawal can lead to death (suicide included).

What is weed withdrawal, and is it a thing?

Okay, before getting into what the medical sites say, let’s take a second to remember that cannabis is not new, and has been used for thousands of years. Let’s also remember there’s a contentious battle going on over the plant’s legalization, with legal markets fighting black markets, and pharma markets trying to get their foothold. Then let’s remember, that not only has cannabis been used for so long, but it’s been written about extensively during that time for its medical benefits and detractions. These things are important to remember, because the medical world of today has the reputation of being bought and sold by the pharma world, making it possible to get skewed information.

For example, while cannabis has been used for millennia with no mention of addiction or withdrawal, you can now find sites cautioning about weed withdrawal, saying a person who stops smoking weed may experience the following: “Feelings of anger, irritability, and/or aggressiveness, sensations of extreme nervousness or anxiety, disturbances with sleep that can include insomnia or very disturbing dreams and even nightmares, a decrease in appetite that may or may not be associated with a significant loss of weight, feelings of restlessness and general malaise, the onset of feelings of depression, physical symptoms that causes significant distress, such as abdominal pain, fever, chills, sweating, headache, and/or tremors or shakiness.”

The main issue I have with this listing, is that I’ve been an active part of the weed-smoking community for half my life, and never have I heard of one complaint of this nature, nor experienced such things for myself, nor noticed it in the people around. Nearly every person I know uses cannabis like me, so if this was an issue of note, I expect I would have noted it by now. At least once. I always note when a cigarette smoker is quitting, or a caffeine user taking a break, and I’ve heard of plenty of withdrawal symptoms related to cigarettes, alcohol, opioids, and benzos. I’ve been able to note people withdrawing from these substances.

While I can’t sit here and say that it’s impossible to experience any of the above-listed symptoms for weed withdrawal, I’d venture that in the real world, the existence of such a response is so low, that it doesn’t actually scientifically register as a problem worth considering. I see no issues in real life, yet an increasing warning on the internet to be wary of this thing that, far as I can logically tell, doesn’t exist.

drug addiction

The lacking research on weed withdrawal

While the idea of weed withdrawal is so minor that it can’t even be agreed on that it actually exists, this is not the case for other classes of drugs which most definitely cause a reaction. Even the studies into cannabis withdrawal, are largely lacking, making the outcomes almost funny. Like this one from 2020: Prevalence of Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms Among People With Regular or Dependent Use of Cannabinoids A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Did study investigators design a study and then carry it out? No, absolutely not. This is how they got their info,

“A search of literature from database inception to June 19, 2019, was performed using MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, Web of Science, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, ProQuest, Allied and Complementary Medicine, and Psychiatry online, supplemented by manual searches of reference lists of included articles.” And then its explained that any articles were picked if they “(1) were published in English, (2) reported on individuals with regular use of cannabinoids or cannabis use disorder as a primary study group, (3) reported on the prevalence of CWS or CWS symptoms using a validated instrument, (4) reported the prevalence of CWS, and (5) used an observational study design (eg, cohort or cross-sectional).”

Then, after pulling from tons of different irrelevant places, where each piece of literature had its own guidelines not in line with this investigation, and while speaking to no study participants, the researchers decided that this was enough to establish that the “prevalence of cannabis withdrawal syndrome was found to be 47%.”

In reality, if this were to actually mean anything, a study would have to be designed and directly carried out on this topic. Researchers would have to control for all necessary information, and deal directly with the study participants being used. And then the data collected would be tabulated to find relevant connections. This didn’t happen. Instead, investigators eschewed years of research for a brief (can do it in hours) tabulation of already collected – often irrelevant – information, to find anything that could be written on, even if the connection had to be created in the end.

Another lacking example

Medical ‘research’ today is lacking in many ways. From meta-analysis studies making grand statements, but without any direct research being done, to wildly deficient studies that try to cover their massive holes, by making asinine statements. Like this one: Cannabis withdrawal symptoms in non-treatment-seeking adult cannabis smokers.

This study focused on people who had at least once in life attempted to stop smoking weed. None of the quitting was done in a controlled environment, as in, not for the purposes of the study. At least in this case, the actual information collected was a bit more pertinent, with a 176-item Marijuana Quit Questionnaire being used for information collection. The questionnaire covered “information on sociodemographic characteristics, cannabis use history, and their “most difficult” cannabis quit attempt.”

cannabis addiction

As the objective of the study was to “Assess the phenomenon of cannabis withdrawal and its relationship to relapse in non-treatment-seeking adults”, it becomes clear that the researchers are taking any cannabis reuse after a quitting attempt, to mean an actual relapse. What’s the problem with this terminology? We use the term ‘relapse’ when people are quitting something for which there is a major health benefit to stopping, or health detraction for continuing. As cannabis is not considered dangerous, and can actually improve health, the idea of a ‘relapse’ is quite incorrect.

In fact, if any of those participants got even one medical benefit out of it, whether prescribed or not, the idea that restarting use after stopping could constitute a ‘relapse’, is ridiculous at best, and dangerous at worst. Using the word ‘relapse’ does make sense in some contexts, no doubt, but it’s a dicey word to use when talking about a compound with medical benefits that people are known to self-medicate with all the time. Plus, we have no idea why people quit. Could simply be social pressure, or not liking getting the munchies while liking other therapeutic benefits. In the context of a non-dangerous, often-useful compound, this becomes wildly important.

The other thing it ignores, is that people could have at one point attempted to stop, and then changed their minds, for no bad reason. This isn’t heroin addiction after all. There are tons of valid reasons to begin use. Like the example just given, as social pressure, or not liking one aspect, being the reason for quitting, and then validly changing one’s mind. Or perhaps a person quit because it was an expense they couldn’t afford at the time, or because they had their information wrong, but learned more along the way. With something like cannabis, where there isn’t a detriment to health from use, or necessarily a positive benefit for stopping, the idea that a person started again after stopping, does not need to be seen as negative, and the word ‘relapse’ becomes entirely inappropriate. Add in that they could be getting a medical benefit, and this study is off-the-wall ridiculous.


I think there’s a strong reality that if you let your body acclimate to nearly anything, it might have a reaction to stopping it. Although let’s be honest, it doesn’t mean it’s always going to be something we’ll consciously notice. Sure, there probably are some people that have a stronger reaction to weed withdrawal, but for the most part, when looking at the world around, this is not really a thing.

Beyond it not really being a thing, at the times when it does come up, it’s really not a thing to worry about on a large scale. In a world of drinkers and hard drug users, the idea that anyone is worried about cannabis withdrawal, says quite a bit about how information is provided to us, and the ability to get people to throw their concern in the entirely wrong directions.

Of course, if you really want a head#*@& in life, remember that cannabis is looked at for help with getting people through the withdrawal symptoms of other more dangerous drugs, and that the main drug class used for this purpose, is benzodiazepines, which themselves are incredibly addictive with awful withdrawal symptoms. Maybe cannabis isn’t the problem here.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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Can CBD Products Help with Addiction?

As the pandemic continues to spread, the number of drug and alcohol abuse has skyrocketed. With new COVID-19 variants coming to the surface, people are uncertain about what the future holds for their jobs, health, relationships, and financial status. The pandemic has caused a global mental health crisis. With continuous social distancing and the number of […]

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Ayahuasca In the Fight Against Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a major issue in the modern world with sky-high numbers for deaths due to drugs throughout the world each year. Very little in the standard medical world has provided an answer to the question of how to break a drug addiction, and recidivism rates for addicts have always remained high. New research into the medical properties of ayahuasca indicates it might be an answer in the fight against drug addiction.

Psychedelics are becoming popular once again, and THC, which is often considered a psychedelic, is one of the most in-demand. These days there are options when it comes to THC. You can go with standard delta-9, or opt for less psychoactive effect and less anxiety with delta-8 THC. Want to give it a shot? Check out these great Delta-8 THC deals, and try the ‘other’ THC.

The US drug overdose issue

Some people will attribute any use of drugs to there being a drug problem. Consider that for decades, marijuana smoking was treated the same as heroin use, though today it’s clear that it doesn’t deserve that treatment. Trying to determine who has a drug issue is moot in the end, as it almost doesn’t matter. One of the ways to judge a drug issue is by the problems that come out if it, with the biggest ones being drug-related violence and deaths. So rather than worry about how many people are using drugs in a way that might be defined as problematic, let’s instead look at drug deaths to gauge the issue.

There are plenty of different national and international reporting agencies about drugs, often with different numbers coming out, though they tend to be in the same direction. It’s also hard to get full global statistics, so sometimes the best possible option is to investigate particular locations to see trends.

According to the CDC, the first three months of 2020 saw approximately 19,416 drug overdose deaths in the US alone. The same period from one year earlier had about 16,682, nearly three thousand less. In the CDC’s US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics report from October of 2020, the agency also approximated 75,500 overdose deaths between March 2019 and March 2020.

drug addiction

The grand majority of overdose deaths in the US are related to the opioid crisis, the massive widespread addiction to synthetic opiate drugs which has been increasing to incredible heights, particularly because of over-prescription, and the inclusion of new drugs like OxyContin and fentanyl. Even the CDC itself says the initial wave of the opioid epidemic started “with increased prescribing of opioids in the 1990s, with overdose deaths involving prescription opioids (natural and semi-synthetic opioids and methadone) increasing since at least 1999.” The CDC goes on to say that the second wave began in 2010 and was related to heroin overdoses, and that the third wave starting in 2013 with an increase in synthetic non-prescription opioid use.

The CDC likes to claim this is related to illicit fentanyl, but this undermines the fact that while the CDC also likes to claim a decrease in prescribing rates in 2019, this decrease still amounts to over 153 million opioid prescriptions doled out that year at an average rate of 46.7 prescriptions per 100 people.

To be clear, when going through the numbers for specific counties, also put out by the CDC, there are actually plenty of individual counties where there were over 100 prescriptions written per 100 people. So, I think it suffices to say that any recent issues with opioid deaths are just as much at the hands of pharmaceutical companies (and the US governmental agencies that allow this to happen) as the illicit market that sprouted from this pharmaceutical one. Regardless of who is responsible, this is now the situation.

If it was only about opiates, that would be problem enough, but it’s not. According to Statistica, regarding US deaths related to cocaine poisoning from 2009-2019, the number has gone up from approximately 3,822 deaths in 2009 to about 15,883 in 2019. This, of course, does show a large increase that cannot be attributed to pharmaceutical companies at all. It also brings up the question of how much these deaths are related to additives rather than cocaine itself, as the drug is often cut with other drugs like methamphetamine.

Drug overdose issues worldwide

Drug addiction is hardly a US invention (even if the US has done well to dominate the field). Take this article from December 2020 from the BBC concerning Scotland. According to the article, Scotland is actually the epicenter of the European drug crisis with the most deaths on average in Europe. The article stipulates the issue with underreporting in some countries, and makes the statement that of reported numbers, Scotland is highest. The 2018 reports had already put the drug issue as a public emergency, with 2019 numbers coming out late due to corona and other issues. The 2019 numbers show a 6% rise to 1,264 deaths.

If this number sounds small, consider that the population of Scotland is approximately 5,463,300, which brings the death rate to .023%. That’s actually slightly higher than the US! There were about 75,500 deaths from March to March, 2018 to 2019, and approximately 330 million people in the US, making for an overdose rate of .022%. While Scotland also attributes the majority of overdoses to opiates, it registered a growing amount of benzodiazepine overdoses, and multi-drug overdoses as well.

ayahuasca drug addiction

Then there’s Canada, where in three months of 2020, April-June, there were 1,628 opioid-related deaths. This is a 54% increase from the same months in 2019, and a 58% increase from January-March of the same year. If we were to take that number and multiply by four to get a rough yearly estimate for a year at those rates, we’re looking at 6,512 deaths out of a population of about 37,590,000, or .017%. From January to June 2020, 86% of overdose deaths in Canada happened in British Colombia. 75% of overdose deaths in general in Canada in that same time period were related to fentanyl.

Much like with Scotland pointing out multiple drugs used in overdose scenarios, it was also found in Canada that 52% of accidental overdoses involving opiates, also involved a stimulant. Between January to June of 2020, 70% of deaths related to stimulants involved cocaine, while 48% involved methamphetamines. In that same time period, 84% of the deaths related to stimulants, also involved an opiate.

In a place like Australia, which as of yet hasn’t been hit as hard, the 2018 drug-related overdose death toll was 1,740 out of a country of approximately 25.2 million people that year, making for a rate of .0069. This is way lower than the other countries mentioned, but it should be noted that 2/3 of these over-doses were related to opiates. However, when looking at the drug class that showed up most often – whether by itself or in combination – it was not opiates, but benzodiazepines. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, “Over the past decade, drug-induced deaths were more likely to be due to prescription drugs than illegal drugs, and there has been a substantial rise in the number of deaths with a prescription drug present.”

On a broader scale, according to OurWorldInData, which uses the UN’s Global Burden of Disease report, over 750,000 deaths worldwide were attributed to illicit drugs in 2017. And this with underreporting from many countries. As a comparison, this number is nearly twice the global homicide rate which sits at about 400,000, although this number is also likely to be way off.

Of course, just to mess with those numbers a bit, it’s also estimated that approximately three million deaths a year are attributable to alcohol use. This encompasses more than just overdoses, but is highly significant in that alcohol is considered a leading risk factor for early death and disability for those 15-49, and is responsible for as much as 10% of deaths in this age group. This makes the opioid epidemic look like nothing. Yet we barely talk about it at all.

What is ayahuasca?

Standard methods of drug addiction therapy have not proven terribly effective. One of the ways we know this is by the sheer number of people with addictions, which indicates new cases being added with few being deleted. There also wouldn’t be a massive market for addiction medicine specialists, rehab centers, or drug maintenance if these things were not a part of an expansive field that also brings in a lot of money.

So, if you’re reading a report telling you that talk therapy, rehab centers, and group counseling are useful, consider that the addiction rehab industry was worth approximately $42 billion in the US alone last year, and is growing quickly. Does it really sound like these methods are working, or just working to bring in money?

And this brings us to medical psychedelics, and the use of ayahuasca. Though the background story of ayahuasca is a bit hazy, it has been used plenty both in history and today, and has been reviewed in medical testing. Ayahuasca is a tea made from the combination of two plants: Psychotria viridis and the Banisteriopsis caapi vine.

ayahuasca ceremony

Though both plants have their own effects, when put together the DMT from the former and the beta-carbolines in the latter (also known as MAO inhibitors, which stop the DMT from being broken down), trigger a powerful psychoactive response. Though the use of ayahuasca might not match all the stories told at ayahuasca retreats, it was certainly used in different places in history. In today’s world, the user ingests the tea, and has a hallucinogenic experience, often with the help of a guide.

So, how is ayahuasca useful in the fight against drug addiction?

Ayahuasca in the fight against drug addiction

Ayahuasca is not the first psychedelic to be looked at for addiction, as many studies were performed on LSD for alcoholism last century. The best way to get an idea of how ayahuasca can be used for drug addiction, is to see how it performs in medical testing. The following is a list of general research related to ayahuasca for drug addiction:

  • In 2013, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) published this study about ayahuasca-assisted therapy for problematic drug addiction, in rural British Colombia. The results found were that: “…participants may have experienced positive psychological and behavioral changes in response to this therapeutic approach, and that more rigorous research of ayahuasca-assisted therapy for problematic substance use is warranted.”
  • In Chapter six of Ayahuasca and the Treatment of Drug Addiction, from 2014, the authors state that more systematic studies must be done with improved methodology, but that long term studies have shown the ability to discontinue drugs among users in Brazil, and that therapy centers using ayahuasca claim to have higher success rates.
  • In the 2019 systematic review: Ayahuasca: Psychological and Physiologic Effects, Pharmacology and Potential Uses in Addiction and Mental Illness, the study authors found that “Research into medical use of ayahuasca indicates potential as a treatment in addictions, depression and anxiety [7], with a variety of other possible medical uses, though these require more research”
cannabis psychedelic
  • In the book Psychedelic Medicine by Dr. Jacques Mabit, there is a section called ‘Ayahuasca in the treatment of Addictions’, and not only does Mabit  make the case for ayahuasca use for addiction therapy, but he points out regarding the two plants used to make the tea, “This specific symbiotic action, which modern science identified just a few decades ago, has been empirically known for at least 3000 years by the Indigenous groups of the western Amazon, according to archaeological evidence (Naranjo P., 1983)”, reminding us that while these topics are fought over in modern medicine today, ancient populations seemed to understand them just fine.


That there is a massive drug problem in the world is by now a fact, so long as a person considers unnecessary deaths related to drug use as a problem. This is seen in overdose deaths worldwide, with growing issues related to opiates, and a long-standing issue with alcohol.

As the drug-addiction therapy industry grows exponentially, signaling major issues with both over-prescription and recidivism, new avenues should be explored to get people the help they need. In light of cannabis making its way from ‘hated’ to a ‘medical darling’, its no surprise that psychedelics are following suit. With a host of new research, and plenty of historical evidence, ayahuasca is being looked at as the new weapon in the fight against drug addiction. With the current and growing dilemma with opiates, this is one of the most promising things to come along.

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Vancouver City Council Has Voted To Decriminalize All Drugs

In an unprecedented move in Canadian history, on Wednesday the Vancouver city council voted to decriminalize the possession of small quantities of all illicit drugs. Once it is approved by the federal government, the motion will be the first of its kind in Canada, following in the recent footsteps of Oregon, the first US state […]

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