ESPN and CNN are both pushing the envelope on psychedelics, with CNN having a new show, called “The Whole Story”, with Anderson Cooper, and ESPN focusing on athletes that are finding hope with the use of psychedelics. While NY Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers has openly discussed his psychedelic use, most athletes are just trying them now for medicinal purposes.
Let’s cut the to the ESPN storyline as the show opens!
A boxer was overwhelmed by a sense of brokenness. Each morning greeted him with relentless pain. Some days, it manifested as excruciating headaches, while on other occasions, his back, fists, ribs, or nose would ache. To add to his burden, he battled mood swings along with depression and anxiety.
Mike Lee, however, held no regrets about his career. He had attained the pinnacle of success as one of the world’s finest professional fighters in his weight class. Boasting an impressive record of 21-1, he had graced the legendary Madison Square Garden and captivated millions of viewers on television.Psychedelics On ESPN: Documentary Looks At Psychedelic Treatments For Athletes
But, over two years had passed since he last stepped into the boxing ring, and each day served as a poignant reminder of his sacrifices. At one juncture, Lee relied on eight prescription medications to alleviate his struggles.
In his darkest hour, amidst a harrowing battle with painkiller addiction, he admitted contemplating a dangerous act: hurtling his car into the median of a Chicago freeway at 140 mph. Desperate to break free from the torment that trapped him, he was prepared to undertake any measure possible.
The persistent pain endured as the impulsive thought waned, leaving him adrift in a sea of uncertainty. “When you find yourself trapped in a corner, consumed by pain, you become willing to do anything to break free,” expressed Lee.
In his present state, he found himself in a lush jungle, nestled at the end of a rugged path that wound halfway up a mountain. Holding onto a glimmer of hope, he believed that psychedelic mushrooms had the potential to transform his life.
In March 2022, Lee found himself among a select group, comprising retired athletes and others, who embarked on a journey to Jamaica. They were drawn together by a shared purpose, seeking solace from the burdens of depression, anxiety, and persistent chronic pain that had plagued them for years. Their destination was the Good Hope Estate, a former sugar plantation transformed into an exclusive resort, where they aspired to find respite.
Awaiting them at this retreat, organized by a Canadian company called Wake Network, were two transformative experiences: two psychedelic mushroom ceremonies and two therapy sessions. The participants felt a mixture of nerves and hope, uncertain yet optimistic about the potential outcomes that awaited them on this remarkable healing journey.
In the company of Lee, there was a professional football player contemplating retirement and a former hockey star haunted by multiple concussions. Hailing from various corners of North America and representing diverse backgrounds and sports, they shared a common thread: vulnerability and a profound disillusionment with prescription medications.
Uncertain of what lay ahead, they embarked on this collective journey, united by a desire for healing. They grappled with unanswered questions: Would the treatment prove effective? Would they discover a solution that could mend their struggles? Or would they encounter further disappointment, exacerbating their existing uncertainties?
Lee learned about the retreat through a childhood friend currently serving as a Wake doctor. Additional participants were brought in by Riley Cote, a former enforcer for the Philadelphia Flyers, who has transitioned into a psychedelics advocate and now advises Wake, holding an ownership interest.
Riley Cote, a former professional hockey player, was once similar to Lee, finding joy in physically engaging with others by delivering forceful punches to the face. The impact of his knuckles meeting flesh and bone at high speed, causing his opponents’ heads to snap back, provided Cote with a sense of vitality.
However, Cote’s path has now diverged. He has transitioned from being a pro athlete to becoming a yoga instructor and a passionate advocate for psychedelics. Additionally, Cote is interested in Wake Network, a Canadian company focused on psilocybin, the compound found in magic mushrooms.
This transition has attracted attention, with ESPN reporting on whispers of an underground network of athletes, particularly former ones, using psilocybin to address issues such as traumatic brain injuries, anxiety, and depression.
Like Cote, numerous individuals perceive psychedelics as a transformative remedy—an elusive solution that breaks free from the relentless cycle of pharmaceutical painkillers and substance dependency. These individuals congregate in intimate clusters, privately consuming mushrooms or venturing to destinations like Jamaica, where psychedelic mushrooms remain unrestricted, searching for profound experiences.
There is a growing interest in the United States regarding the use of psychedelic mushrooms. Several cities have decriminalized the possession of psilocybin, and ballot measures in Oregon and Colorado have legalized magic mushrooms for supervised use. Some researchers anticipate that the FDA may approve psychedelic treatments within the next five years.
However, these researchers caution that psychedelics’ excitement surpasses scientific evidence and that the treatment carries significant risks for certain patients. They worry that without systematic and ethical research, the widespread use of psilocybin could lead to a public backlash similar to what occurred in the 1960s, potentially relegating a promising treatment to banned substances.
They are urging corporate entities like Wake, which are already positioning themselves to capitalize on the potential legalization of psychedelics, to proceed cautiously. They emphasize the importance of conducting research properly and allowing scientific knowledge to catch up.
Matthew Johnson, a psychiatry professor and psychedelics researcher at Johns Hopkins University, stated, “If mushrooms are not used safely, people are going to get hurt.”
However, many individuals, including former professional athletes dealing with physical and cognitive injuries, are unwilling to wait for the slow progress of clinical research. They need assistance immediately, as the painkillers, antidepressants, and numerous other medications they have been prescribed over the years have not provided relief. In their view, the positive experiences shared by fellow athletes who have benefited from psychedelics outweigh any scientific uncertainties.
According to Cote, all the former athletes who participate in these retreats face challenges and need assistance. Many feel like they have exhausted all other options and tried various approaches. They question why they should wait when numerous studies and personal accounts highlight positive outcomes.
Cote drew a parallel with cannabis, pointing out that it took numerous stories and experiences before establishing a medical program. He expressed frustration that progress has been hindered for such a long time.
The journey of former athletes like Mike Lee and the growing interest in psychedelic mushrooms reveal the struggles faced by individuals grappling with chronic pain, depression, and anxiety. While the potential benefits of psychedelics offer hope, researchers emphasize the need for proper research and caution to ensure safety.
The urgency those seeking relief feel highlights the complex balance between scientific evidence and personal experiences. As society navigates the path toward acceptance, it becomes crucial to prioritize scientific exploration while addressing the immediate needs of individuals yearning for transformative solutions. (Full Story)