Scientific studies reveal what many cultures have known for thousands of years: psychedelic medications have the potential to heal the mind, body, and soul, and promote lasting change.
after half a century of post-drug war stigmatization, psychedelics have found a respectable place in research, with therapies such as psilocybin, mdma, ketamine and dmt showing promise in treating mental health conditions notoriously difficult to treat, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and opioid addiction.
As the public perception of psychedelics changes, more people have begun to share how psychedelic medicine changed their lives for the better, including many celebrities. here are some of their experiences.
1. Paul McCartney
After their first experience with LSD in 1966, John Lennon and George Harrison of the Beatles insisted that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr experience psychedelia. “john and i had decided that paul and ringo had to take acid because we couldn’t relate to them anymore. Not just on one level, we couldn’t relate to them on any level, because the acid had changed us so much,” Harrison told Rolling Stone in 1971.
starr was willing, but mccartney refused. “We had heard that you are never the same,” he said of LSD in the anthology. “It alters your life and you never think the same again.” But a year later, unaccompanied by his bandmates, McCartney tried acid. in a 1967 interview he said the experience “explained the mystery of life.”
Later, Lennon introduced the band to what would later become known as the “You Never Know Tomorrow” song. McCartney introduced the sound in the song that describes when the soul “gives itself to the void”. thus, his experience with LSD ultimately helped set the soundtrack for the emerging psychedelic era.
2. Miley Cyrus
Earlier this year, Miley Cyrus told Rolling Stone that the hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca was “definitely one of my favorite drugs I’ve ever tried.” The Hannah Montana star said she tried the ceremonial tea shortly after losing her beloved dog Floyd to coyotes. “When I was on my trip, all I could focus on was the animals. she was vomiting different animals: dolphins, seals and giraffes. it’s really crazy,” she recalled.
while under the influence, cyrus said the snakes grabbed her legs and took her to the “ayahuasca mother”, who accompanied her throughout the trip. She later told the New York Times that she went to a Chinese healer who “sent me into a state where my dog was taken out of my lungs and placed on my shoulder. I pet my dog for about three hours.”
3. Seth Rogen
Canadian actor, comedian and self-proclaimed stoner Seth Rogen has never shied away from talking about his substance experiments. he smokes cannabis daily and has even attended mdma premieres. he also likes mushrooms from time to time.
During an interview with Vulture, he credited magic mushrooms (which he called a “very insightful, very introspective drug”) with prompting him to make some “real life decisions.”
When asked how much of his comedic sensibility was enhanced by drugs, he said, “It’s hard to tell. What I do know is that I started reading more about drugs as I got older and what I read made me think, ‘Man , I took a lot of mushrooms when I was like 13 and 14’—dozens of times in a formative age.’ It’s a real consciousness-expanding drug, so maybe it had pretty profound effects.”
4. Ben Lee
Australian indie-pop musician Ben Lee was so moved by his personal experiences with ayahuasca that he dedicated an entire album to this South American psychedelic drink. Ayahuasca: Welcome to the Work, released in 2013, contains a mix of songs titled “welcome to the house of mystical death”, “meditation to be born” and “will to grow”. the album was his opportunity to “come out of the closet as someone who has used these medications for my own spiritual healing and spiritual growth,” he told the music broadcasts.
Psychedelics have also made Lee a best friend. “In some of the work I’ve done supporting people going through their psychedelic journeys, there’s a skill set that creates a loving, supportive space for other people going through their journey,” she says. instead of a friend who tells you what to do to overcome your problem, “I like the kind of friend who loves you as you figure out your process of what to do.”
coincidentally, he also wears a necklace built around an lsd tab.
sting calls the many psychedelic trips he’s taken in his life “worthwhile experiences.” not all have been walks in the park. but, she says, she has always learned from them, which helps keep his ego in check.
“What the experience does is it introduces you to the idea of mortality…it’s your own mortality, the mortality of the planet…that’s the central theme of consciousness,” he said.
The English musician recalled visiting a friend’s farm and taking peyote. Suddenly, he was called to help a farmer deliver a calf, during which he grew taller and taller. “For me, the meaning of the universe opened up,” he said.
6. Daniel Carcillo
two-time stanley cup champion daniel carcillo’s mastermind took the brunt of his 10-year hockey career. he was diagnosed with seven concussions and probably suffered at least 100 more. he left him with headaches, insomnia, and impulse control problems. sometimes, he felt so hopeless that he would sit on his trunk and think of ways to kill himself.
and then tried ayahuasca. the experience transformed his life and healed his brain. Now Carcillo is finding a way for athletes who have sustained long-lasting brain injuries from repeated blows to the head to receive the same kind of life-saving psychedelic treatment.
Last year, Carcillo co-founded Wesana Health Inc., a company that will use psilocybin to treat brain injuries. “When we set out to establish Wesana, we were personally highly motivated to bring alternative treatments to market for those suffering from traumatic brain injury,” said Carcillo. “To our great delight, we were able to find investors who are equally motivated not only by our business model, but also by the importance and unmet need for the innovative treatments we are developing.”
7. Lamar Odom
Former NBA star Lamar Odom says he dealt with past anxiety and trauma by self-medicating with cocaine and other drugs. but his habit became a dangerous addiction. In 2015, he overdosed outside a Las Vegas brothel, suffering 12 seizures, six strokes and a stint on life support.
When odom regained consciousness, he continued to battle addiction. It was then that American businessman Mike “Zappy” Zapolin coordinated a “psychedelic intervention” for the basketball star. Odom’s journey to recovery can be seen in the film “Lamar Odom Reborn,” directed by Zapolin. In the film, Odom credits ketamine and ibogaine therapy with saving his life.
8. Chelsea Handler
comedian chelsea handler traveled to peru to attend an ayahuasca ceremony to “put things in perspective”. the psychedelic concoction sent her down memory lane, during which she learned that she needed to have more patience and understanding for her sister.
“love her harder. that’s what they told me”, she recalled in her 2019 memoir. life will be my death… and yours too!
handler also credits psychedelics for getting her into therapy which, in turn, made her realize that the root of her anger and frustration stemmed from a lack of empathy.
“Sympathy is feeling bad for someone or their situation…it’s more like pity,” he recalled his therapist explaining. “Empathy is…thinking about what it feels like to be someone else and understanding their experiences and views and knowing that they may be different from your own.”
9. Joe Rogan
joe rogan, comedian, mixed martial arts commentator and host of the joe rogan experience podcast, is a strong advocate for the demonization of psychedelics and the promotion of the benefits offered by the drugs.
“It’s a weird experience when you’re just trying to talk openly about how you think psychedelic drugs and [cannabis] are beneficial, or a lot of different drugs, especially plant-based drugs, can be beneficial,” he said. in a recent podcast. “Especially those that have some connection to organic life, I feel like you can learn something from them, from psilocybin mushrooms, from peyote, from marijuana. they can be used as a tool.”
10. Mike Tyson
former heavyweight boxing champion mike tyson says his experience with 5-meo-dmt, also known as toad poison, brought him back into the boxing ring after 15 years of retirement.
“The toad is a totally interesting aspect of my whole being right now,” he said on his “hotboxin’ with tyson” podcast. “It takes you to a place that takes you to another dimension. since I did, I have had a miraculous change in me.”
in fact, “medicine told me to get in shape,” he said. and he did, working out and losing 100 pounds. last november, he was fit enough to face roy jones jr. in the ring although the fight ended after a full eight rounds in an unofficial draw, tyson said he was pleased with his performance.
11. Paul Simon
One half of the 1960s Simon and Garfunkel duo, Paul Simon admits to briefly experimenting with LSD in the 1960s. But in 1998, when his Broadway musical The Capeman collapsed after only six months, his self-esteem plummeted. he traveled to the amazon to seek refuge with ayahuasca.
the experience brought simon peace, as well as material for his 1990 song “spirit voices”, in which he writes, “some stories are magic, meant to be sung/songs from the mouth of the river/when the world was young / and all these spiritual voices rule the night.”