DOSED: Overcoming an Opioid Addiction with Psychedelics on Film

DOSED: Overcoming an Opioid Addiction with Psychedelics on Film

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After many years of prescription medications failed her, a suicidal woman turns to underground healers to try and overcome her depression, anxiety, and opioid addiction with illegal psychedelic medicine such as magic mushrooms and iboga. Adrianne’s first dose of psilocybin mushrooms catapulted her into an unexpected world of healing where plant medicines are redefining our understanding of mental health and addiction.

DOSED: A Young Woman’s Journey to Recovery with the Help of Psychedelics

DOSED TRAILER

DOSED is a powerful and timely documentary that challenges the conventional understanding of what addiction is and what an addict looks like. As a concept, the idea that psychedelics aren’t “bad,” but rather “medicinal” might be difficult for some to believe. Personally, I still remember D.A.R.E coming into my classroom vividly, thus we’ve all been educated to view psychedelics as dangerous. The prohibitionist model that uses fear as a tactic, however, is more pernicious than any drug. It does not and has not worked. 

Addiction is a global crisis. In particular, the opioid crisis is largely ignored. This is why everyone should watch DOSED because statistically speaking, you probably know an addict, or to speak more broadly and accurately, someone who is suffering.  

At the onset of this inspiring story, filmmakers Tyler Chandler and Nicolas Meyers and their subject, Adrianne, knew next to nothing about psychedelics or psychedelic therapy. As the events unfold, they courageously venture deeper to investigate the roots of addiction with the help of experts such as Gabor Maté and underground psychedelic providers. Thus, they offer new and provocative perspectives on a topic that deserves our attention. If we move drugs out of the shadows of shame and stigma as well as our feelings, we could deal with our issues before they got out of control. 

In the words of comedian Mitch Hedberg, “Alcoholism is a disease, but it is the only one you can get yelled at for having.” It isn’t the only one. The sentiment of that statement applies to substance abuse in general. And it is part of the problem. 

Meet Adrianne

In 2017, Adrianne was 33 years old and had been abusing drugs and alcohol for 20 years. Having tried every treatment available to no avail, she reached out to Tyler on the verge of suicide. 

“She’d been on countless prescription medications, doctor-prescribed opioid replacement therapy programs like methadone,” Tyler told us. “She’d been to treatment centers, detox centers, recovery groups, and nothing had ever worked or stuck.”

Suicide Rates in the U.S.

48,344 people died by suicide in 2018 in the U.S., but that doesn’t reflect the scope of the problem. In 2017, 10.6 million American adults seriously contemplated suicide, 3.2 million made a plan, and 1.4 million attempted it, according to the CDC. Furthermore, “over fifty percent of all suicides are associated with alcohol and drug dependence.”

Adrianne was one of many, in other words, which is why she wanted to film her process.

A Dose of Psilocybin Changes the Course of Adrianne’s Life

As she was getting opiates on the street, the risk of dying from fentanyl was a legitimate concern. She had heard of a psilocybin clinical trial happening the following year, but she didn’t know if she would even live that long, so she decided to take a dose of psilocybin mushrooms at home while Tyler and Nick filmed it. 

“She was at risk of overdosing every day,” Nick said. “Fentanyl is no joke, you can die from it at any time. Why not try the only option available?”

“Could we help Adrianne in any way?” Tyler continued. “Could this help more people if we filmed it and it worked out?”

The filmmakers had no idea that this one dose of psilocybin would change Adrianne’s life, and their own. 

We were very concerned that something would go wrong or that it wouldn’t be helpful,” Nick said. “So, to be sitting there, then, as she recounted this extremely profound and moving journey in which she feels self-love for the first time in many years was surreal. Something incredibly positive was happening.”

But What is Addiction? 

For a phenomenon that is so rampant in the world, our understanding of addiction appears to be so narrow. Most popular health sites list “a chronic dysfunction of the brain system,” or something to that effect, as the dominant definition. However, the “brain” theory doesn’t quite add up, and the proof is in the problem. 

Mark Haden, Director of MAPS Canada, flat out said, “I don’t buy it.” 

The Roots of Addiction

“When I teach my course about addiction,” Haden continued. “I start by challenging that theory. I show public health maps of the epidemiology of the HIV explosion that happened over a five year period in New York (specifically, HIV transmitted through intravenous drug use). During this period, HIV rates went from small to huge. And it was tracked, perfectly. Low-income and less educated communities had an explosion of HIV. Wealthy communities didn’t. It was all the social determinants of health: poverty, education, connections between people, etc.”

Trauma

“Scientists like researching that piece, which is why that model (brain malfunction/dysfunction) has developed,” Haden continued. “Let’s say there’s an elephant in the room, and the scientists are all obsessed with the tail. You end up having a huge amount of knowledge about the tail of an elephant, but you don’t understand the elephant itself. If you look at the people who are addicted, they don’t have damaged brains. They have trauma history. In mainstream dialogues around drugs, that’s what is missing.”

Adrianne didn’t seem to have a big trauma that usually underlines addiction. “Usually when people heal from psychedelics, the trauma is very clear,” Haden said. “With Adrianne, it wasn’t, which was unusual.”

But is it unusual? 

“The Question is not Why the Addiction, but Why the Pain?”

“Adrianne’s lifelong battle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction is shared by lots of people,” Nick and Tyler said. “Traumatic events can occur throughout people’s lives and don’t have to be tied to one major event for someone to struggle with mental health or addiction.”

Mark Howard, the Iboga provider in DOSED, pivots the question in another direction. 

“Dr. Gabor Maté has expressed, ‘The question is not why the addiction, but why the pain?’ 

“As iboga providers,” Howard continued, “our responsibility is to create a safe place for our guests to feel comfortable enough to begin to let their protective walls down. When we (provider + iboga) are able to help someone heal their relationship with themselves, acknowledge where their pain comes from, and thus release the attachment to it, then the road to sobriety is already confirmed. Once you know who you really are (and you’ll love the true you!), the probability of relapse tends towards zero.”

Given that we do not value, thus educate, Emotional Intelligence as much as the intellect, the brain dysfunction theory is even an example, it appears that psychedelics are therapeutic tools that enable people to reconnect with themselves, get to know who they truly are, and even learn to love the person that they are. That’s a valuable insight if we consider why psychedelic medicine is showing such success in treating these types of problems.

The Road to Recovery 

Nevertheless, Adrianne, Tyler, and Nick seemed to be on the right track. After the profound experience she had on mushrooms, it propelled them to continue their journey into the realm of psychedelic therapy, even if it was “underground.” As Tyler said, “The problem with this being illegal is that there’s no access, right?”

Along the way, a group of underground psychedelic providers, as well as addiction experts such as Gabor Maté and Mark Haden, came to support the project. “All the healers were very confident that this could be successful,” Nick said. “They saw in Adrianne a willingness to work on herself, which is integral because psychedelics aren’t a magic bullet.”

“There are a lot of people out there who believe that you take a psychedelic, your brain gets rewired, and you’re fixed,” Haden said. “That was clearly not true for Adrianne. It was a turbulent process. There were times she got better and times she got worse, so the complexity of psychedelic healing was captured quite well.”

Instead of shying away from the tough stuff, the film bravely yet respectfully shows a human being in the process of dealing with their depression, anxiety, PTSD, and opioid addiction. Furthermore, the case of Adrianne shows how interconnected these issues are, and how through personal commitment one can overcome them. 

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Dr. Gabor Maté with Adrianne

The Opioid Crisis

About 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. In 2015, an estimated 2.4 million people in the United States suffered from opioid use disorder (1.8 million of those were prescription pain relievers). The overdose deaths involving legal prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999 and so have the sales for these drugs. In the film, we watch Adrianne go to the pharmacy every day as part of her doctor-prescribed opioid replacement therapy program. 

“The theory behind it is that these people won’t need to get street drugs, which might be more dangerous because they may have something else in it like fentanyl,” Nick said. “These people don’t have any freedom, and the pharmacies get a subsidy from the government of $6,000 every year per person on this program. It’s huge money. The pharmacy will actually try to get people to come to their pharmacy for that reason.”

In 2017, doctors issued 191,218,272 opioid prescriptions. That is big money, However, so is the cost of addiction to society in the United States, which adds up to 740 billion dollars annually. Thus, do the treatments available like methadone work, even if it didn’t work for Adrianne, if we’re spending so much money on them?

“It has been estimated that about 25% of patients eventually become abstinent, 25% continue to take the drug, and 50% go on and off methadone repeatedly,” according to Harvard Medical School. Though doctor prescribed methadone can be an important step in recovery, it is still an opioid. Regardless of its legality, it is detrimental to one’s health, and the objective is to help people towards a life free from all opioids.

Ibogaine as a Treatment for Addiction

“Meanwhile,” Nick started, the three friends discovered Ibogaine. 

Ibogaine is considered one of, if not the most, powerful psychedelic substances that exist. As a psychedelic tryptamine, it has a long history of use in Central and West Africa. In recent years, it has become an underground sensation, in some ways, for treating some of the most treatment-resistant illnesses, such as PTSD and addiction. Basically, it rewires the brain, including the addiction pathways. Though Ibogaine is not a magic bullet, ultimately, it helped Adrianne recover from a 20-year addiction. 

“It’s not cheap,” Nick said, “but it’s so much cheaper than somebody being hooked on methadone, morphine, or street drugs for the rest of their lives. It is also many times more successful as a solution than treatment centers. The rate at which people going back to drugs after treatment centers is like 97% or something like that. The rate of people going back to drugs after Iboga is significantly lower.”

We asked Mark Haden, who had worked in addiction services for Vancouver Clinical Health for 28 years. He subsequently left to become the director of MAPS Canada, because he had met a woman who was running an Ibogaine clinic in the Vancouver area. “She had an 80% success rate. The program that I ran, we had maybe 1-2% success rate.” 

Considering all the money that goes into addiction, it is perhaps shame that costs the most without any visible gain. 

Removing the Stigma Around Substance Abuse

Mitchell Gomez, the Director of Dance Safe, runs an organization that tests drugs at live events to ensure their purity. According to him, opioid users never come to the booth to test their heroin. “I really never had anyone ask me if I could test their heroin, but if you look at data from events, opioids get dropped off all the time. We need to remove that stigma around substance use.”

DOSED is important as a documentary film because Adrianne had the courage to show what it’s really like to be an opioid user who isn’t on the streets. The stigma behind drugs paints an inaccurate picture of what a drug user looks like. “In society, if you’re not in the alleys or on the streets, you’re not seen as an addict,” Tyler said.

“What we learned is that the vast majority of people who are struggling are functioning addicts, so you wouldn’t know,” Tyler continued. “So, one thing that we hope, and we’ve been seeing this happen, is that DOSED opens a dialogue, even if you don’t have access to psychedelics. That could mean that a teenager is now open to talking to their parents or counselor about the issues that they’re struggling with.”

The issue with Western logic, in general, is that you wait until the person gets on the street in order to see the problem. In a less extreme example, typically, we wait until we get sick in order to rest and stay home. Logically speaking, when you start to get sick, that’s the moment when you should stop, before you get really sick. In terms of drug use, the same attitude applies. If we didn’t deny our feelings, we could address some of these issues before they got out of control. 

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Changing the Face of Addiction

“One thing that I learned,” Nick continued, “is that drugs of abuse are used by people to escape their feelings, traumas, or numb out. You hear it all the time, even from people that might characterize themselves as being, generally, emotionally well. ‘Oh, I just need to get drunk because I’m having a bad day.’ Or, something like that. It is a tool to hide from what you’re feeling.” 

Conversely, “Psychedelics are a tool to go inward towards your traumas, or whatever it is that you don’t want to face,” Tyler said. “If you’re willing to do the therapeutic work in conjunction with psychedelics, which includes integration, connecting with the community, a healthy diet, etc., then you can overcome whatever issues that you’re facing.”

Two Years Sober

Adrianne just celebrated her two year anniversary of sobriety. From this present moment in time, she reflected back on the person she was at the start of the documentary. 

“I was consumed by fear, shame, anxiety,” Adrianne told us. “Using substances was the only way I knew to feel okay in my skin. Every waking moment was spent obsessing about using drugs, figuring out how to get them, and actually using drugs. It was a dark and lonely place, but it was the only coping mechanism I thought I had.

Since using psychedelics to overcome my dependency on substances, I feel a great sense of freedom and relief that I don’t have to carry that burden anymore. I wake up in the morning and look forward to my day, and I don’t suffer from depression or anxiety and do not need to take medications for it. Now, I have had a stable job that I enjoy and am planning on going back to school. I feel like I have many opportunities ahead of me and have regained a connection to myself and others that was lost due to crippling substance dependence.”

Though Nick and Tyler began this journey knowing little about psychedelics or psychedelic-assisted therapy, they were themselves moved to have been a part of a project with a powerful message to share, that could “shed some light on another option for addiction that isn’t available,” Tyler said. 

“Accidentally, we became advocates for something that we didn’t even know anything about just a couple of years ago,” he said. “There are so many people struggling with mental health and addiction issues in the world. When psychedelics are legal and safely accessible to more people as treatment options, they will help a lot of people.”

Though they began making this film relatively new to the psychedelic field, Nick and Tyler became advocates for their therapeutic application. This inspiring and thoughtful film humanizes addiction, reveals areas within mainstream society in need of reform, and shows us that the way out of addiction is inside. 

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Psychedelic Resources

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Ayahuasca has been known to be a powerful medicinal substance for millennia. However, until recently, it was only found in the jungle. Word of its deeply healing and cleansing properties has begun to spread across the world as many modern, Western individuals are seeking spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being. More ayahuasca retreat centers are emerging in the Amazon and worldwide to meet the demand.

 

Ayahuasca Helps with Grief
A new study published in psychopharmacology found that ayahuasca helped those suffering from the loss of a loved one up to a year after treatment.

 

Ayahuasca Benefits: Clinical Improvements for Six Months
Ayahuasca benefits can last six months according to studies. Read here to learn about the clinical improvements from drinking the brew.

 

Ayahuasca Culture: Indigenous, Western, And The Future
Ayahuasca has been use for generations in the Amazon. With the rise of retreats and the brew leaving the rainforest how is ayahuasca culture changing?

 

Ayahuasca Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
The Amazonian brew, Ayahuasca has a long history and wide use. Read our guide to learn all about the tea from its beginnings up to modern-day interest.

 

Ayahuasca and the Godhead: An Interview with Wahid Azal of the Fatimiya Sufi Order
Wahid Azal, a Sufi mystic of The Fatimiya Sufi Order and an Islamic scholar, talks about entheogens, Sufism, mythology, and metaphysics.

 

Ayahuasca and the Feminine: Women’s Roles, Healing, Retreats, and More
Ayahuasca is lovingly called “grandmother” or “mother” by many. Just how feminine is the brew? Read to learn all about women and ayahuasca.

What Is the Standard of Care for Ketamine Treatments?
Ketamine therapy is on the rise in light of its powerful results for treatment-resistant depression. But, what is the current standard of care for ketamine? Read to find out.

What Is Dissociation and How Does Ketamine Create It?
Dissociation can take on multiple forms. So, what is dissociation like and how does ketamine create it? Read to find out.

Having Sex on Ketamine: Getting Physical on a Dissociative
Curious about what it could feel like to have sex on a dissociate? Find out all the answers in our guide to sex on ketamine.

Special K: The Party Drug
Special K refers to Ketamine when used recreationally. Learn the trends as well as safety information around this substance.

Kitty Flipping: When Ketamine and Molly Meet
What is it, what does it feel like, and how long does it last? Read to explore the mechanics of kitty flipping.

Ketamine vs. Esketamine: 3 Important Differences Explained
Ketamine and esketamine are used to treat depression. But what’s the difference between them? Read to learn which one is right for you: ketamine vs. esketamine.

Guide to Ketamine Treatments: Understanding the New Approach
Ketamine is becoming more popular as more people are seeing its benefits. Is ketamine a fit? Read our guide for all you need to know about ketamine treatments.

Ketamine Treatment for Eating Disorders
Ketamine is becoming a promising treatment for various mental health conditions. Read to learn how individuals can use ketamine treatment for eating disorders.

Ketamine Resources, Studies, and Trusted Information
Curious to learn more about ketamine? This guide includes comprehensive ketamine resources containing books, studies and more.

Ketamine Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
Our ultimate guide to ketamine has everything you need to know about this “dissociative anesthetic” and how it is being studied for depression treatment.

Ketamine for Depression: A Mental Health Breakthrough
While antidepressants work for some, many others find no relief. Read to learn about the therapeutic uses of ketamine for depression.

Ketamine for Addiction: Treatments Offering Hope
New treatments are offering hope to individuals suffering from addiction diseases. Read to learn how ketamine for addiction is providing breakthrough results.

Microdosing Ketamine & Common Dosages Explained
Microdosing, though imperceivable, is showing to have many health benefits–here is everything you want to know about microdosing ketamine.

How to Ease a Ketamine Comedown
Knowing what to expect when you come down from ketamine can help integrate the experience to gain as much value as possible.

How to Store Ketamine: Best Practices
Learn the best ways how to store ketamine, including the proper temperature and conditions to maximize how long ketamine lasts when stored.

How To Buy Ketamine: Is There Legal Ketamine Online?
Learn exactly where it’s legal to buy ketamine, and if it’s possible to purchase legal ketamine on the internet.

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System?
How long does ketamine stay in your system? Are there lasting effects on your body? Read to discover the answers!

How Ketamine is Made: Everything You Need to Know
Ever wonder how to make Ketamine? Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about the procedures of how Ketamine is made.

Colorado on Ketamine: First Responders Waiver Programs
Fallout continues after Elijah McClain. Despite opposing recommendations from some city council, Colorado State Health panel recommends the continued use of ketamine by medics for those demonstrating “excited delirium” or “extreme agitation”.

Types of Ketamine: Learn the Differences & Uses for Each
Learn about the different types of ketamine and what they are used for—and what type might be right for you. Read now to find out!

Kitty Flipping: When Ketamine and Molly Meet
What is it, what does it feel like, and how long does it last? Read to explore the mechanics of kitty flipping.

MDMA & Ecstasy Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
Our ultimate guide to MDMA has everything you want to know about Ecstasy from how it was developed in 1912 to why it’s being studied today.

How To Get the Most out of Taking MDMA as a Couple
Taking MDMA as a couple can lead to exciting experiences. Read here to learn how to get the most of of this love drug in your relationship.

Common MDMA Dosage & Microdosing Explained
Microdosing, though imperceivable, is showing to have many health benefits–here is everything you want to know about microdosing MDMA.

Having Sex on MDMA: What You Need to Know
MDMA is known as the love drug… Read our guide to learn all about sex on MDMA and why it is beginning to makes its way into couple’s therapy.

How MDMA is Made: Common Procedures Explained
Ever wonder how to make MDMA? Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about the procedures of how MDMA is made.

Hippie Flipping: When Shrooms and Molly Meet
What is it, what does it feel like, and how long does it last? Explore the mechanics of hippie flipping and how to safely experiment.

How Cocaine is Made: Common Procedures Explained
Ever wonder how to make cocaine? Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about the procedures of how cocaine is made.

A Christmas Sweater with Santa and Cocaine
This week, Walmart came under fire for a “Let it Snow” Christmas sweater depicting Santa with lines of cocaine. Columbia is not merry about it.

Ultimate Cocaine Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
This guide covers what you need to know about Cocaine, including common effects and uses, legality, safety precautions and top trends today.

NEWS: An FDA-Approved Cocaine Nasal Spray
The FDA approved a cocaine nasal spray called Numbrino, which has raised suspicions that the pharmaceutical company, Lannett Company Inc., paid off the FDA..

The Ultimate Guide to Cannabis Bioavailability
What is bioavailability and how can it affect the overall efficacy of a psychedelic substance? Read to learn more.

Cannabis Research Explains Sociability Behaviors
New research by Dr. Giovanni Marsicano shows social behavioral changes occur as a result of less energy available to the neurons. Read here to learn more.

The Cannabis Shaman
If recreational and medical use of marijuana is becoming accepted, can the spiritual use as well? Experiential journalist Rak Razam interviews Hamilton Souther, founder of the 420 Cannabis Shamanism movement…

Cannabis Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
Our ultimate guide to Cannabis has everything you want to know about this popular substances that has psychedelic properties.

Cannabis and Ayahuasca: Mixing Entheogenic Plants
Cannabis and Ayahuasca: most people believe they shouldn’t be mixed. Read this personal experience peppered with thoughts from a procannabis Peruvian Shaman.

CBD-Rich Cannabis Versus Single-Molecule CBD
A ground-breaking study has documented the superior therapeutic properties of whole plant Cannabis extract as compared to synthetic cannabidiol (CBD), challenging the medical-industrial complex’s notion that “crude” botanical preparations are less effective than single-molecule compounds.

Cannabis Has Always Been a Medicine
Modern science has already confirmed the efficacy of cannabis for most uses described in the ancient medical texts, but prohibitionists still claim that medical cannabis is “just a ruse.”

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