The current prime minister might still think that every single recreational drug is a “toxic scourge” on society, but those in academic circles are becoming increasingly aware of the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. Plenty of recent research has explored psilocybin’s efficacy in treating depression, while DMT trials in the UK are currently exploring the exact same thing. One study found that even bad trips have given people “life-altering insights.”
Realistically though, anyone who takes psychedelics (mushrooms, LSD, DMT etc) for recreational reasons could have told you the aforementioned for free. We spoke to some people about their one most important realisation while tripping. Some of their names have been changed to protect their identities.
Sumiyah, 24: ‘I cried like a baby’
I took a psilocybin pill that a mate sold me during my second year of uni. I basically realised that I didn’t know myself well enough as a person to really let anyone in – probably because I was only 20 – and that none of my friends really knew me.
I cried like a baby, but I think it really helped me to make big decisions about who I actually wanted to be and how I wanted to present myself, which definitely led to me being so confident and unconcerned with people not liking me now, because at least I’m being my authentic self.
Chomsky, 23: ‘You're literally just a speck in this infinite cosmos’
I was at a shroom bar that had shroom shakes in the Philippines, and I accidentally ordered a double because I was unfamiliar with the currency. I took double the dose recommended for most people, let alone someone that had never done magic mushrooms – or any psychedelics, for that matter.
I decided to go have a little walk in the woods by myself and found a nice mound to sit on with a great view of the trees. I then experienced ego death, where you basically completely forget about how important you are. You think of yourself as completely insignificant in the grand scheme of the universe and all of time. You could be the most famous person in the world - like, I don't know, David Attenborough – but in a million years, no one's gonna know who he is. You're literally just a speck in this infinite cosmos. That was my main realisation.
T, 22: ‘I told him I never wanted to hear from him ever again’
I got with this guy when I was 17 years old. He had this framework of what a woman “should” be like - extreme stuff like “she shouldn't be showing off her arms and she should be shy and keep to herself”, stuff like that. He was extremely misogynistic. At 17, I was gullible and vulnerable, so a lot of the things he said stuck with me.
Some time after my 20th birthday I got a text from someone I used to go to school with, saying she wanted to go to Amsterdam. We decided to go, then the second day we decided to do truffles. [While tripping] I caught myself in the mirror and had a thought: ‘I was worth a lot more than anything I'd convinced myself I was worth and I was capable of so much.’ I had lost a big chunk of my personality because I was trying to dial it down for somebody else. When I got back to England, after three years of being in a relationship, we just stopped talking. I didn't even have to say anything.
After seven days of no communication, we finally spoke and I told him I never wanted to hear from him ever again. It was like the universe just sort of clicked for me in that moment when I had that psychedelic experience. I finally realised I had been taking three years of abuse and that I had a whole life for myself that I had to live.
Georgie, 21: ‘It stopped me taking people drifting in and out of my life so personally’
I did acid a few years back. I wasn’t sure if I should do it or not, because it was just before I went to uni and I was quite nervous about the big change, and people always say to do psychedelics when you’re in a good place. But instead of heightening those worries, it actually really relaxed me about the thought of change.
I remember being surrounded by my friends and thinking how great it was that I had them all around me. It changed my perspective on friendships hugely – they come, they go, and that’s OK. People can offer you a huge amount of support and joy, but rarely do so forever. It really made me appreciate what my friends had done for me. It reduced the constant worries I had about how and when those good times might come to an end. It really stopped me taking people drifting in and out of my life so personally.
Lydia, 20: ‘I’m so much more confident about myself’
The second time I took acid was amazing. It was peak COVID and I was quite depressed at the time. Me, a few of my friends and my boyfriend went and sat on a hill and it was such a nice and heartwarming day. COVID had made us all feel so trapped, like we were wasting our lives away in our peak years.
I was having very bad self confidence issues at the time. It was probably the lowest I've felt in my entire life, but for some reason sitting on the hill with my friends made me realise that I am who I am for a reason – if everyone was the same, life would be so boring.
It also made me stop being so negative: I've been guilty in the past of being unnecessarily bitchy and judgemental, mostly about people I don't know. I had a long think about why I do this and realised it was because of my low self-confidence and esteem. I don't do that anymore and I’m so much more confident about myself.
Benjamin, 20: ‘It made me feel a lot more wanted’
This was like my second or third time smoking DMT. I crawled into bed in the foetal position and these tiny little machine elves just started tinkering on me. They'd sort of roll past my ear and whisper really positive phrases like “You are loved and you are cared for.” It just made me feel so warm inside.
I think that was one of the most impactful times I've had taking psychedelics. It shaped a lot of my last year, what with all the stress and how horrible last year has been. It definitely made me feel a lot more wanted, a lot more grounded and a lot more comfortable in the space I was in.