Why is education important during the psychedelic renaissance?

Psychedelics have recently been a point of interest as a tool to treat mental illnesses such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety, as well as a tool to enhance general life through the recreational micro-dosing movement. Such events were also noticed during the 60s by attempting the use of MDMA, LSD, Psilocybin, and Mescaline as therapeutic drugs.

Due to the increase in mental illness and resistance to modern medicine observed today patients decided to try alternative medicines, recurring to botanical and synthetic alternatives leading to the revival of the psychedelic scene, thus, this movement was named by media the psychedelic renaissance.

Alongside the scientific evolution in the psychedelic realm, media and ways to share information are also evolving with millions of people adhering to social media daily, sharing their information and personal beliefs, often propagating erroneous information regarding various subjects based on their personal beliefs and experiences, psychedelics included.

For this reason, having a fully developed scientific literacy sense is important, being able to distinguish between scientific data and personal experience to achieve better results in conclusions. Despite psychoactive compounds being often conducted as a subjective experience and a variable between users, there is various information that remains untouchable since the psychedelic boom, information such as the importance of dosage, the value of set and setting, and the importance of consuming the substances consciously and carefully.

The variety of information found on the internet, forums, complicated scientific journals, and social media can easily become overwhelming for someone who is being introduced to psychedelics, especially with the increase of accounts, websites, and companies spreading wide information about substances that had been considered inherently bad by the propagandist media of the 80s and 90s.

However, there are a few accounts that are actively fighting against the sharing of erroneous information, in between them is the Instagram account @science_and_anonymous (also referred to as Anthony Furrule in further mentions).

The page is run by Anthony Furrule a research chemist and student whose interest in the fields of chemistry and pharmacology has extended past his academic role. Anthony always found chemistry interesting at a young age, he believed there was something mystical about how atoms interacted with each other. Later on in his academic life, psychopharmacology was introduced birthing a new interest, to understand how molecules can change consciousness.

“As with most scientists studying psychedelic drugs, although many will not admit it, these drugs have had a profound alteration in how I see the world around me for the better, and of course, how I perform research. Although in science the self is almost always separate from one’s work, as using personal pronouns such as “I” is greatly disrespectful in papers, psychedelics do add a bit of intertwined connection to your work of which only some biochemists can appreciate in some cases.”

He adds that the vast unique pharmacological features psychedelics provide are paramount and are a quintessential puzzle piece to understanding the brain/mind connection, so deeply desired in psychopharmacology.

When questioned about the importance of scientific literacy and understanding trustful fonts Anthony believes truth is always the highest form of the human condition. Without it, the abstinence of our mind is left astray to simply fallacy and manic attempt to understand.

“The truth is the only way that growth is obtained, and as a scientist, the strife to seek the whole, absolute, truth is a necessity.”

Anthony believes those who provide false information with malice are harmful people who seek to remove from any position of power.

“If in the concept of drugs, I personally believe only truth should be administered. No personal reflection of bias should be noted or observable. It is a vile poison to progress.”

“Misleading information is everywhere. One must only go on their phone and scroll through any numerous number of social media platforms to see how easily incorrect information can be spread, and even from “popular educators”, most of their material is funded through third parties pushing for desirable outcomes. Of course, this also applies to simply publishing based on “seeking public interest” or clicks and likes.”

Promoting something shocking will always gain more attention (sadly) than the truth. Those who do provide valuable, educational, content most often make it catchy way, and more palatable to an uneducated audience, losing its precious key notes says Anthony Furrule.

Do you believe there will be any issues regarding an upcoming mass of people furnishing information?

Even in the scientific community there will always be bias, and opinion. It is human nature to seek what one personally wishes to see the world as. In science, the whole purpose of the scientific method is to excrete the human condition from research and result. If there is a result, it should be held to neutrality. There are no bad or good results, just data. I have personally seen data swayed in favor of researchers or their patrons.

“It is a serious concern, which deeply worries me. The truth is something which in the 21st century must be taken with scrutiny, and re-evaluated, peer reviewed, and estimated for bias before confirmation of its truth. This is the way of a scientist, and should be of the educated citizen.”

With the arrival of many enterprises to the world of mental health and psychedelics, the availability of various compounds ranging from Cannabis products, such as CBD pens, and THC cartridges to simple supplements can be advertised incorrectly for marketing purposes and benefit in sales, sometimes leading to dependence or bringing danger to the user.

Anthony believes there is a key balance by which substance use falls. The promotion of a drug to such a degree it’s seen as practically resilient to all harms (such as cannabis has) is blatantly irreversible, and must be stopped.

“On the other hand, only showing negatives is astronomically harmful. Propaganda will never lead to safety, just as stating there is no harm in a drug mystically makes it harmless.”

 Every drug, supplement, mineral, and product carries some degree as risk. It has been shown through data phytocannabinoids are very safe, however, they have also caused death when combined with other drugs. Balance is key says Anthony.

“The promotion of such products, especially of incentivize by monetary benefit, is despicable. Especially if it leads to harmful effects, or is known to cause them.”

Do you have any difficulties running the page?

I have had tremendous difficulty running an educational page centered on drug science/chemistry/psychopharmacology. Mass banning by Facebook, auto unfollowing, hiding of my material. It has been painstaking, and money expending.

The Facebook platform is a horrible place to be if you’re an educator. With that, Google (which owns YouTube) is mildly better. Information may be more difficult to find there, but it is far, far, less restricted. YouTube at least allows for education to be broadcasted.

 Psychedelic therapy

In addition to the misinformation spread on social media, the misconception of psychedelics alone can heal depression, anxiety, and PTSD by offering a mind-blowing experience has also been spread in recent years with the resurging of several clinics providing psychedelic therapy.  If the mind-blowing experience described by other users or the media isn’t met after the consumption of a substance, patients often feel confused, more depressed than when they started or stuck as psychedelics are sometimes their last hope to ameliorate their mental health, for that reason tempering expectations to the patients play an important role together with acknowledging the work that has to happen often in preparation and follow up integration. 

Past traumas or troubling memories can come up under the effect of psychedelics which can make the patient in a worse mental state in a non-controlled environment or unaccompanied. An integration professional can be a quintessential piece in making meaningful connections to one’s past and present situations creating a long-lasting positive change in one’s life. Community integration groups are an equally great option to process what your experience was about as novel insights can come from sharing your story and listening to experiences from others.

Integration supports people by:

  • Exploring the intention behind engaging in psychedelic therapy.

  • Encouraging them to be patient about their process, inform the patient that their treatment is a journey and there are going to be phases to the journey.

  • Explaining how essential it is for a patient to remain curious about their own process.

  • Informing a patient that after an experiment there can be a lot of energy to make meaning or see how this experience is going to impact them in an immediate or long-term future.

  • Empower the patient to make well-informed, healthy decisions.

  • Encourage the use of other therapeutic tools such as mindfulness, journaling, and somatic work.

  • Help patients prepare for the unknown and discuss about possible hallucinations and dissociation.

Different types of Integration:

  • Cognitive- Understanding and interpretation of the phenomenology.

  • EmotionalUnderstanding how emotions have been processed during the experience.

  • PhysicalBeing aware of sensations, pains, and blockages.

  • SpiritualExperiences that transcend the ordinary.

  • BehaviouralIntegration between our insights and actions.

  • SocialFulfill the lack of social containers that can help to process the experience.

  • TimeThese experiments are integrated over time, often a second phase is needed which can last days, months sometimes even years.

In addition, the therapist must be compassionate, curious and about the patient’s psychedelic experience to provide the best approach.

Harm reduction guide

Despite its use in clinics, these substances are often used recreationally or in a party setting. If the substance is being used recreationally, various important factors can provide a better experience for the user.

Factors such as:

  • Testing the substance for adulterants.

  • Set and setting.

  • Having a Tripsitter

  • Safety in International Retreats

Testing the substance is crucial for a safe and controlled experience. This can be done by various reagents such as:

  • Marquis Reagent: Used for a wide variety of substances, usually considered to be the first step to identifying a compound.

  • Mecke Reagent: Used to confirm the presence of MDMA, Amphetamine/Methamphetamine, DMT, Cathinones (Methylone, MDPV), Scopolamine, Opiates (Morphine, Heroin, Fentanyl, Codeine), 2C-B, Sildenafil (Viagra) and Mescaline. Also used to exclude adulterants, like Dextromethorphan (DXM) or Lidocaine.

  • Mandelin Reagent: Ideal to test Cocaine, Ketamine, and PMA

  • Liebermann Reagent: used to confirm the presence of MDMA, Cocaine (and its main Adulterant Levamisole), Amphetamine, Ketamine, Opiates (Morphine, Heroin, Codeine), 2C-B, Mescaline, Methoxetamine, and more.

  • Froehde Reagent: used as a secondary test to confirm the presence of MDMA, Opiates (Morphine, Heroin), Ketamine, Amphetamines, Bath Salts, Cathinones (Mephedrone, Methylone, MDPV, Butylone), 2-CB in between many.

  • Simon’s test: Used to detect the presence of secondary amines. MDMA, Methamphetamine, and Paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA) are secondary amines and will react with Simon’s test.

  • Morris Reagent: Used to identify ketamine distinguishing it from other anesthetics like Deschloroketamine and 2-Fluorodeschloroketamine)

  • Ehrlich’s Reagent and Hofmann Reagent: Both reagents are often used together for recreational microdosing and react to LSD, DMT (ayahuasca), psilocybin, and psilocin (active compounds in magic mushrooms), and 5-MeO-DMT)

  • Folin Reagent: Used for detecting a class of drugs called piperazines, such as N-benzylpiperazine (BZP) and Trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine (TFMPP).

Each kit is accompanied by a color chart that will be the identifier of your compound, for that reason having a few considerations in mind is important. Doing the test in a distraction-free and well-lit environment together with handling the chemicals carefully will be the preferable setting to perform.

These reagents are usually widely available and can be bought at EZtestkits, SMPLEST and DanceSafe. In addition, various companies in Europe and United states also provide these tests free of charge in events, in countries like Canada there are buildings like the Vancouver Island Drug Checking Project where anyone can test their drugs by lab equipment.

Users can also keep updated for potential harms from mail services such as KnowDrugs and Erowid’s anonymous drug testing program DrugData such websites are continuously updated with alerts from newly tested pills, their dosages, and potential adulterations


Refers the mindset, mental health and prescribed medication of a person taking a substance, therefore factors such as:

  • Current emotional state

  • Past trauma

  • Present life issues

  • Being prone to panic attacks and anxiety

  • Mental health conditions

  • Perception of safety and support

  • Physical state- Illness, ingestion of food and water, etc.

Can influence someone’s experience.

Includes physical properties of the environment and people present in the space where the experience is part-taking, factors such as:

  • Indoor or outdoor

  • Sound: Music or silence

  • Lighting: Daytime, nighttime, artificial lights

  • Company: alone, friends, or public

  • Smells: Use of incense, candles, etc.

  • Temperature: Change in weather, warm and cold.

Can influence someone’s experience.

Despite the idea of a group of people taking a substance together being thought as the climax of the psychedelic experience, it’s not ideal for the general safety in case of a bad experience.

When taking psychedelics difficult experiences can occur, for this reason, having a Tripsitter can be ideal. Tripsitters should know when to contact emergency services as well as provide information to emergency responders about the substances taken, be able to create a safe, calm, and compassionate space, away from noise and crowds. Avoid responses that may cause anxiety such as “we have to act fast”. Allow the person’s experience to be the guide, and adapt to situations while talking through what they’re witnessing instead of talking them down from their experience.

Responses such as: “There is nothing there” or “You’re not really feeling that” may increase the confusion of who’s having the visual experience. Instead, an inviting approach to explore and connect to their feelings should be made together with encouraging them to approach their feelings with curiosity and openness. In some cases reminding the person that the experience is temporary in case of distress is also necessary.

Despite one’s history of psychedelic use and whether the substance will be taken in a therapy setting or recreationally having an emergency plan is heavily advised.

Inquiring yourself whether you have an emergency plan, your therapist, or your Tripsitter is a must.

If the substance is being taken at a festival, questions such as:

  • What resources are being provided in the facility?

  • Does the facility have CPR/ AED equipment, and first aid kits and does the staff have the training to use such tools?

  • Where is the nearest hospital and how to get there? Is there someone of trust to take me there? (Staff, a friend, etc)

  • Who is my emergency contact?

Should be made in order to have a mapped emergency plan.

With the popularization of the Amazonian brew Ayahuasca, international retreats became consequently popularized, Peru alongside Costa Rica, Jamaica, and the Netherlands became the mecca of International retreats.

Besides the points mentioned previously various questions must be additionally asked to provide your safety.

When attending these retreats to know the protocol of the retreat is extremely important. Knowing what you will be given, if any touch and what will be the dosage. If any other substances will be given to you subsequently to the initial dosing, knowing where the experience will take place is a must.

Furthermore, before attending your retreat, it’s crucial to know who is responsible for the retreat, how many people will attend the ceremony, if someone will touch you, if the guides have minimum medical training, and what comes up/reviews when the retreat is Googled since recently many sexual abuse stories have been brought to light during unlicensed Ayahuasca retreats in Peru.

Having all the points previously mentioned considered, one should be able to find the perfect fit whether in therapy or international retreat as well as being able to benefit from a safer psychedelic experience.

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