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Psychedelics entrepreneur Matt Zemon talks about his new book ‘Psychedelics for Everyone’

Psychedelics entrepreneur Matt Zemon chatted about his new book “Psychedelics for Everyone.”

Matt Zemon
Matt Zemon. Photo Courtesy of Matt Zemon
Matt Zemon. Photo Courtesy of Matt Zemon

Psychedelics entrepreneur Matt Zemon chatted about his groundbreaking new book “Psychedelics for Everyone.”

Psychedelics researcher and entrepreneur Matt Zemon, MSc sat down to talk about how psychedelics might be the game changer for chronic sufferers of anxiety, PTSD, depression, and more. He also clarified some of the myths.

Recent studies show that there is new hope in the treatment of depression and anxiety that may be more effective than antidepressants. Scientists are finding increasing evidence for the benefits of mind-altering drugs such as ketamine, MDMA, and psilocybin mushrooms.

In fact, major universities and big pharma are studying psychedelic drugs for mental health – with almost 100 clinical studies happening right now and more than 300 university psychedelic programs in place. But what does this mean for the average person just starting to hear about this now?

In this engrossing book, “Psychedelics For Everyone: A Beginner’s Guide to These Powerful Medicines for Anxiety, Depression, Addiction, PTSD and Expanding Consciousness” by Matt Zeman provides a reliable science-backed resource to educate consumers on the myths, facts, real experiences, and legalities of psychedelic drugs for mental health.

Psychedelics have a long history in the country, but law and stigma have blocked the use of these substances from exploring medicinal benefits for mental health. Why all the sudden interest?

The Nixon administration made psychedelic medicines illegal in 1970 for political reasons, not scientific ones. Now, after 50 years of prohibition and no real breakthroughs for mental health since the invention of the antidepressant, the scientific community has been demonstrating the effectiveness of various psychedelic medicines for many mental health challenges.

Over 33 percent of people suffer from some anxiety, and it is well documented that anxiety plays a role in depression, physical illness, and substance abuse. Existing treatments, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological, are not effective for almost 40 percent of the population, and the pharmacological options take up to 14 weeks for onset of action and come with significant side effects.

Psychedelic medicine offers an alternative that is significantly faster, doesn’t have awful side effects, and does not need to be taken every day.

The power of psychedelic medicine for healing trauma, depression, anxiety, and curbing substance use is supported by both sides of the aisle and is being studied by hundreds of academic institutions across the world. In fact, we are seeing cities and states across the country pushing for either decriminalization or legalization.

You note on your website that there are five myths and rumors of psychedelics. What are they and what do you feel the American public needs to know about it?

Myth: All schedule 1 drugs have no medical use. Fact: Psychedelics are currently being examined for their potential to improve quality of life by treating mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction, PTSD, eating disorders, and easing anxiety for patients with terminal illnesses.

Researchers have also found that psychedelics can increase creativity, improve mood, and more. The FDA has given breakthrough therapy designation to both MDMA and Psilocybin.

Myth: Psychedelics are dangerous. Fact: Research suggests that alcohol is 10x more harmful than mushrooms or LSD. Reported cases of death due to psychedelics are rare and the “hole in your brain” rumor is simply false.

Myth: Psychedelics make you crazy. Fact: They can actually make you sane. In many psychedelic experiences, there is a dissolution of the ego, new insights are gained, new connections are formed, and healing begins. MDMA, as an example, is currently part of a Phase 3 study specifically for patients with severe, chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sponsored by the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

Of participants who received two MDMA-assisted therapy sessions, 67 percent no longer qualified for a PTSD diagnosis, and 88 percent experienced a clinically meaningful reduction in symptoms.

Myth: Psychedelics are addictive. Fact: Typically, psychedelics do not engage the brain’s dopamine pathways, an essential element of drug dependence. They are rarely addictive but rather are being studied to treat addiction.

Myth: All psychedelics are illegal. Fact: Ketamine has been legal in the United States since 1970 and is used off-label for the treatment of depression and anxiety as well as chronic pain.

Until five years ago. corporate investment in psychedelics as medicines was unthinkable. What has changed and what do you feel is the future for psychedelics?

Private investors are pouring millions of dollars into psychedelic start-ups. Several psychedelic companies have gone public and are collectively valued at more than $2 billion.

Researchers calculate that the market for psychedelic drugs is expected to reach $6.9 billion by 2027. Ketamine clinics are being started across the United States and Canada, while telehealth companies angle for ways to reduce cost, increase convenience, and provide a safe, accessible alternative to antidepressants.

Corporations and investors are seeing psychedelic medicine as well as the delivery systems and training institutions as the future of mental health care. With tens of millions of people looking for alternatives to the existing treatment options, there is a lot of room for disruption.

One of the things that led to this change is the thousands of veterans that have returned from war with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that is not being cured with existing therapies and where, in clinical trials, this same group of people is seeing 67 percent no longer having a PTSD diagnosis after just two psychedelic treatments. This is compelling and forces society and politicians to re-examine our nonsensical drug policies.

Thanks largely to the work of Rick Doblin, Ph.D. and The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, MDMA appears to be on track for approval from the Food and Drug Administration for therapeutic use in 2023 or 2024, with psilocybin to follow shortly thereafter.

After 50 years of criminalization and demonization, psychedelic drugs are about to enter mainstream psychiatry and launch the most significant advancement in mental health treatment since the creation of the SSRI in 1974.

Coming out of a “just say no” world to one that now embraces medicinal marijuana and ketamine clinics, what should the average person know about psychedelics, microdosing, staying safe and therapies associated with psychedelics?

First, millions of people are suffering unnecessarily. They are either suffering because antidepressants and talk therapy don’t work for them or they are suffering because of the challenging side effects that antidepressants bring. For people at the end of their life, they don’t have time to wait to see if an antidepressant will work for them. There needs to be another option and researchers at academic institutions like Johns Hopkins, Yale, Imperial College, UCSF, and more are demonstrating again and again that psychedelics may be the answer.

Second, psychedelics are not addictive. Third, for people to take drugs safely, they need to know what they are buying. Because we don’t have a reasonable drug policy in this country, people are forced to underground markets and often end up getting drugs that are laced with contaminants like fentanyl. Over 50,000 people die unnecessarily every year from fentanyl overdoses.

Finally, decriminalizing drugs will not lead to more drug use. Portugal is a great example of how decriminalizing drugs can be beneficial for public health.

After decriminalization, more people sought out treatment for substance dependence, drug-related deaths such as overdose declined, disease transmission and incarceration numbers dropped, rates of marijuana use went up, and rates of opioid use went down.

Fewer resources go toward policing, incarceration, and medical costs associated with overdose. As a result, there are more resources available for harm reduction services, such as education and treatment for substance dependence.

Is there any legislature aimed at decriminalization of psychedelics? Will that allow most people to buy and take psychedelics for therapies?

There are three main pathways to legal access to psychedelics that are currently being considered. First, legalization: psychedelic drugs would be available for personal possession without restriction under the law.

Second, decriminalization: psychedelics would remain classified as illegal drugs, but law enforcement would be instructed to make enforcement their lowest priority. Third, medicalization: psychedelic treatments for medical use would be highly regulated and legal when administered by a licensed professional.

Legalizing psychedelics would mean that an individual could legally purchase certain psychedelics for personal possession. You could walk into a store, buy psychedelic substances such as psychedelic mushrooms, and legally consume them. The details of legalizing psychedelics are complicated, but the concept is pretty straightforward.

Keeping psychedelic substances illegal but decriminalizing their use would reduce the number of people arrested or jailed for non-violent crimes. This would mean that selling psychedelics would remain illegal, but there would be little to no criminal punishment for consuming them. It could be a tricky process, but the general idea is to cut down on harsh punishments for drug possession and decrease the number of people behind bars.

The third potential path to psychedelic drug access is medicalization. This means that the drugs would be legal for medical treatment when administered in an appropriate setting by a trained professional. Scientific research has made significant gains in recent years in demonstrating the effectiveness of approaches like psilocybin therapy for the treatment of depression or MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD.

What is your personal experience with psychedelics? How does this tie into your book?

In 2019, I had an opportunity to experience a guided psilocybin (magic mushroom) journey, and it completely changed my worldview. Over the past years, I went from never having done any drugs (except for a few experiences with cannabis) to a deep dive into learning about human consciousness with help from psilocybin, ayahuasca, ketamine, LSD, MDMA, DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, and more.

Almost 30 years after my last science class, I went back to school to get a Master of Science degree in the Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health, so I could better understand the biology and the psychological foundation upon which psychedelic psychotherapy is building.

I have gone to numerous conferences and retreats and sought out conversations with spiritual leaders and medical professionals who regularly use psychedelics as tools to help people navigate through life. I have spoken with hundreds of people whose lives have been transformed by the power of psychedelics.

While I’m not suggesting that psychedelics are a panacea that will solve all of life’s problems, I am confident that they can play a powerful role in healing and connection, both for the people that choose to use them and for those that do not. This is what I mean by Psychedelics for Everyone.

Tell us about your company Happyy.

HAPPŸŸ is a mental wellness company that specializes in psychedelic-assisted ketamine therapy along with digital therapeutics that promote life-transforming outcomes. We help people overcome anxiety, depression, and suffering through HAPPŸŸ’s proven, safe, and fast-acting at-home low-dose oral ketamine therapy and the science of happiness, and we help create lasting change from the comfort of home.

We choose to connect members with oral ketamine because it is 34 percent more effective than SSRI antidepressants, 54 percent more effective than psychotherapy, and 17 percent more effective than IV ketamine while working two times as fast.

Ketamine sets off reactions in the brain’s cortex that enable new connections between the brain’s cells to regrow. Ketamine’s restorative effects may be perceived within an hour or two of treatment, providing significant relief to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Less than five percent of ketamine-treated patients report mild side effects, typically subsiding within an hour or two of administration of the drug,

Matt Zemon’s book “Psychedelics for Everyone” is available on Amazon.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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