Her life was transformed by magic mushrooms.
Lena Russell was able to feel in touch with her world and herself after taking the classes in Amsterdam. She was so in tune with herself and the world that she moved from England to America to study psychedelic-assisted health care.
She felt curious about her trip and how she’d changed over the following days. She felt alone.
She now helps others who feel the same way as her. Fireside Project is a free, peer-support service for psychedelics. It launched in April. Fireside is currently sponsored financially by the SocialGood fund, a non-profits incubator, and is in the process of becoming a non-profit. It launched an app in August that is claimed to be the first of its type.
Credit to fireside project
Peer support is the practice of making trained civilian volunteers — not a medical or mental health expert — available to listen and talk to people in times of mental or physical need. Peer support, which is often a source for those struggling with addiction and other mental health problems, falls under the umbrella of harm reduction. It assumes that everyone will engage in dangerous behavior. This is why it’s important to reduce the risk of harm rather than punishing and stigmatizing people who engage in this type of behavior.
Peer support is a great idea for users of psychedelic drugs. As scientific research and the wellness and pharmaceutical industries explore potential uses for psychedelic drugs such as LSD and psilocybin, which is the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, ayahuasca and other related substances like MDMA, MDMA, and ketamine are experiencing a boom, peer support for psychedelic drug users has never been more important. The public is also using psychedelics more often, a University of Cincinnati researcher said. However, this was without any safety net in a therapy or research setting.
Madison Margolin (co-founder, editor, Double Blind Magazine), which covers psychedelics, said, “There is a reframing happening where psychedelics don’t have to be seen necessarily as drugs, they are going to get your fucked up. They’re going to aid you get well.”
This “reframing” also includes what many consider the obsolete notion of the “bad trip” popular culture, which proliferated due to the war against drugs. These drugs may lead to many other experiences. Some of these can be emotional intense. To reap mental health benefits, it is essential to work through difficult moments with friends, therapists, and peer support services like Fireside.
Hanifa Nayo Washington (a co-founder of Fireside Project) stated that “a big part of who we are is detigmatizing the usage of psychedelics. Helping to mitigate the risk and increase the potential what these chemicals and plants can have for us teachers and supporters of healing.”
Lena Russell shared that her passion for helping people was what attracted her to Fireside.
Russell stated, “I would have benefitted from a service such as that after my first experience with psychedelics.” Russell said, “Definitely I would have appreciated some support and grounding and help understanding the events and knowing that I was not alone.” “I wanted to do something to help the psychedelic community I didn’t have.”
That’s why there is an app.
What app design can you make for active tripping people, as Nayo Washington said? For people who wish to talk about sensitive subjects? The app should be easy and inviting to use.
Nayo Washington stated that the app’s core is centered on two buttons: call and text. This makes it both soothing and attractive. The scheme’s colors include lots of oranges. The design was created: There must be only two buttons and it should be very simple.
Fireside’s “connector” is someone who presses on the bright, glowing orange icon. Connectors will evaluate the needs of callers and then direct them to volunteers or supervisors with greater experience in psychiatric care. This app does not replace emergency services. A recording will tell callers to dial 911 in an emergency.
Fireside emphasizes that it isn’t a substitute for a doctor, therapist or other professional. Peer support lines can be considered official services for mental and medical clinics. This is not Fireside. It’s an addition to mental and/or physical healthcare that can be accessed in times of crisis.
These moments may not be what you expected. Johns Hopkins Medicine surveyed 2,000 people who “said they had had a past negative experience” after taking psilocybin. The majority of these same individuals “reported that the experience was meaningful or worthwhile” while half of them said it is still one of their most important experiences.
A challenging experience is often incredibly valuable. Not all users of psychedelics have access to a professional therapist.
Brian Pilecki (a psychotherapist at Portland Psychotherapy and researcher), said that therapy does not always work. He is also a provider of psychedelic integration and has no involvement in the Fireside Project.
Fireside refers to its volunteers as people who “get it.” “We’ve been there.”
Applications are currently closed. However, volunteers must be at least 18 years old, have access to the internet, and be compassionate towards callers. The training includes strategies for assessing risk, as well as exercises to help people talk and listen. Weekly community circles allow volunteers to learn and share their experiences with other volunteers.
Nayo Washington stated, “We focus on getting rid of ego and on reflecting, heart-based listening as well as scanning for possible harm.” We support anyone who has had any experience with psychedelics. This includes both during and after an experience.
It feels amazing to be able to make someone feel less alone …”
Fireside discovered that more callers reach out for help to deal with past experiences rather than seeking support right now. Fireside claims that it conducted around 550 peer support sessions. About one-third of these callers made contact while on a trip. The rest were looking for assistance with integration, as the psychedelic community refers to it.
Pilecki defines integration as “the act of making sense of an event and gaining benefit from it.”
After her first experience with psychedelic drugs, Lena Russell knew what integration meant but didn’t know how to describe it. She and other volunteers such as her provide empathy for Fireside callers and help them understand what is happening.
Russell stated, “I’ve spoken to many people who felt lost and lonely after taking psychedelics.” It feels amazing to be able to help someone feel less alone and supported. There are many people who care.
The line is also being used by people on psychedelics. Russell stated that she talked to someone who was tripping and called her because they just wanted to talk about what it was like. They wanted someone to share their experience with them. Russell stated that it was breathtaking. Pilecki was contacted by a client at Fireside during his last trip, because he needed to speak.
Pilecki stated that he found them to be open-minded and did not push any agenda. This was exactly what he required at the time. He was able to enjoy a more positive experience because of having that backup option.
A user claimed that the home screen was used to check on their trip and they never had to dial the number because of the security blanket provided by the app.
“I think that knowing if the app is downloaded on your phone or what number it contains gives you this feeling of control over your trip,” stated Nicolai Lassen, Fireside’s chief technological officer. It’s a comfort knowing there is someone on the other side, so if something goes wrong you are still in control. You can also call them and get the assistance you need. The cascade effect that just knowing we are out there can have is great.
Researchers around the world are studying the effects of psychedelics (and other drugs like MDMA, ketamine, and others) on treatment-resistant depression, PTSD and anxiety.
Fireside plans to eventually use anonymous data and anecdotal info to understand how peer support plays in positive psychedelic experiences. Fireside collects anonymous data and feedback from users, although volunteers make calls.
According to surveys after each call, 167 Fireside customers reported that their stress levels and psychological distress were reduced. Fireside was also able to help 41 panicked users who were considering calling 911.
Nayo Washington stated, “We will use our research in order to prove that harm reduction saves life.”
Fireside’s research could be used to help scientists understand the drug in a way that is not limited by medical and research. Fireside stated that peer support for psychedelics is more important than research.
Nayo Washington stated, “That is the most important thing.”
Fireside is aware that there are many benefits to psychedelics and the risks involved. To support those who might be excluded by clinics or medical researchers (which may require insurance), and by the for profit psychedelics market, more infrastructure is necessary.
For some people, this support does not have to involve a scientist wearing a lab coat or an expensive therapist. You can find a calm voice or a way to appreciate a moment in your life, or even compassion for an event that occurred 25 years ago.
Nayo Washington stated, “We want the net.” We want to make sure that everyone knows you won’t fall and you are not alone.
Publiated at Thu 26 August 2021, 09:13:44 +0000