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Therapeutic Psychedelics Are In — and Now There’s a Peer Support Line to Help

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The New York Times has called psychedelics and MDMA (i.e. “molly”) the “hottest new therapeutics since Prozac.”

CNN’s Anderson Cooper declared a “psychedelic renaissance” on an episode of “60 Minutes” in 2019.

And Esquire magazine has even suggested LSD is actually good for us.

Psychedelics are having a moment. However, they need to be taken seriously and not as a joyride as they become more available. Now there is an app and hotline called The Fireside Project that will help people have a safer experience while undergoing a therapeutic psychedelic session.

Last year, a study by the New England Journal of Medicine showed promise for psilocybin in treating depression and anxiety.

Fireside aims to help you have a therapeutic trip. And if you’re having an uncomfortable experience, Fireside’s Psychedelic Peer Support Line can talk you through it.

The Bay-Area-based nonprofit is the first-ever hotline of its kind, offering support to those who are taking psychedelics who may need either some handholding, or just someone to talk to while they experiment with psychedelics.

Fireside is staffed by 30 trained volunteers. It acquired seed money from supporters in San Francisco, a city that is a longtime friend of psychedelics, given its history of the hippie culture in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood and homegrown bands like The Grateful Dead.

Launched in April 2021, The Psychedelic Peer Support Line is free and confidential, and its central goal is to “Help all people minimize the risks and fulfill the potential of their psychedelic experiences.” You can text or call them at 62-FIRESIDE, open every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. PT.

“The Psychedelic Peer Support Line is staffed by compassionate, supportive volunteers from diverse backgrounds who are trained to listen deeply and from a place of non-judgment,” Fireside’s website says. “All volunteers have completed our rigorous training program.”

So, who’s on the other end of the line? From the website’s FAQ: “We’re people who get it. We’ve been there ourselves,” the FAQ says. “But, we’re here for emotional support only. We’re not doctors or therapists, and we don’t provide medical advice or medical assessment,” noting that if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911.

Think of Fireside as a psilocybin peer support group. Or a free-of-charge trip-sitter. Fireside has partnered with the University of California San Francisco, which will study the effects and progress of the hotline.

“This is a really important service that is being provided to society; first, because we’re in a mental health crisis, which has only escalated since COVID, and second, because I think more people are using psychedelics for this reason,” UCSF investigator Joseph Zamaria tells Forbes. “People are self-medicating with psychedelics.”

He adds that Fireside “can assure a little bit of safety, a little bit of harm reduction in the space.”

Another partner involved with the research is Dr. Rachel Yehuda, Director of the Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York City. Yes, there is a whole center devoted to this kind of research.

“The excitement about psychedelics and their potential therapeutic benefit is driving many to try them on their own, sometimes in a way that blurs the boundaries between recreational and therapeutic use,” she tells Forbes. Fireside doesn’t discriminate between recreational users and those who are taking psilocybin for therapeutic purposes. They are saying the hotline can help anyone.

Mere months ago, Oregon legalized psilocybin for psychiatric purposes. Washington, D.C. also decriminalized it, along with ayahuasca and peyote. And New Jersey passed a measure that will minimize the criminality of possessing psychedelics like LSD and magic mushrooms.

While I have never experimented with psychedelics save for eating half a shroom once in college, my interest is piqued.

If a psychedelic drug can truly beat depression, I’m all for it.  

To reach the Psychedelic Peer Support Line, call or text 623-473-7433.

Getty image by yngsa

Originally published: July 8, 2022
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