In 1969 the fifth Beatle was heroin: John Lennon’s addiction took its toll on the band

In early 1969, the faces of heroin addiction for Paul, George and Ringo were John and Yoko

Fifty years ago, the Beatles entered their final year as a working rock ’n’ roll band. And in the ensuing decades, the reasons for their eventual disbandment have been debated ad nauseam. Was it Yoko Ono’s constant presence in the studio? Paul McCartney’s increasingly controlling nature? John Lennon’s rage to break free of the partnership that he had brokered with McCartney after their meeting in a Liverpool churchyard in July 1957? Or simply Ringo Starr’s apathy or George Harrison’s need to strike out on his own and fulfill his promise as a songwriter in his own right?

In truth, although each of the above was a contributing factor, by January 1969 a much darker force had made its presence known in their world. During that fateful year, the Beatles suffered, as so many families do today, from the daily pain and bewilderment of an opioid addiction.  more

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Substance use for coping can lead to mental health issues

Before Charles Miller got into the car he quickly popped a small tab of 25i — fake acid. It seemed that during the first eight holes of golf everything would be normal, but it wasn’t until after the ninth hole that yardsticks started moving out of nowhere and the fairway turned into a waving ocean. This was an uncomfortable high for Miller that led him to experience severe anxiety for months after, and he coped by drinking alcohol and popping Xanax for a year of his college life.

“I didn’t know if I was going to make it,” Miller, using a pseudonym to protect his identity, said.

The use of alcohol and illicit drugs is more common among young adults than any other age group, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Illicit drugs originally focused on the use of marijuana among college students, but has recently incorporated the use and misuse of prescription, over-the-counter drugs and harder drugs such as LSD. The administration found that 1 in 17 full-time college students aged 18-22 met the criteria for a substance use disorder in 2015.  more

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On the Road with Rick Holmes: The return of psychedelics

Studies have found psilocybin, the ingredient that puts the magic in magic mushrooms, can relieve symptoms of depression resistant to antidepressants.

They are the plagues that define our times: Addiction, depression, PTSD, suicide.

Drug overdoses killed 72,000 Americans last year. The death toll from alcohol and cigarette addiction is even higher. Major depression affects more than 16 million Americans a year. Post-traumatic stress disorder is epidemic among war veterans and victims of violence. Suicide has been rising sharply since the turn of the century; with some 45,000 Americans taking their lives in 2016.

What are now being called “diseases of despair” are a big reason why life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped three years in a row. And mental illness doesn’t just kill; it cripples good people, destroys families and hurts the economy.  more

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Cary Grant: how 100 acid trips in Tinseltown ‘changed my life’

In the late 1950s, at the height of his fame, Cary Grant set off on a trip in search of his true self, unpicking the myth he had spent three decades perfecting. He tried hypnosis and yoga and felt that they both came up short. So he began dropping acid and claimed to have found inner peace. “During my LSD sessions, I would learn a great deal,” he would later remark. “And the result was a rebirth. I finally got where I wanted to go.”

Grant’s adventures in psychedelia – an estimated 100 sessions, spanning the years 1958-1961 – provide the basis for Becoming Cary Grant, a fascinating documentary that plays at next week’s Cannes film festival. It’s a film that takes its lead from Grant himself, undressing and probing the star of North by Northwest to the point where the very title risks feeling like a red herring. “Like all documentary makers, we started out looking at the construction of Cary Grant,” says producer Nick Ware. “But we ended up deconstructing him through the LSD sessions.” 

“In one LSD dream I imagined myself as a giant penis launching off from Earth like a spaceship”

    —  Cary Grant
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The Dangers of Mixing Street Drugs with Psychiatric Drugs

According to recent studies, more than seventy percent of adolescents who abuse psychoactive substances also have one or more psychiatric disorders. Many of them continue to use illicit substances while on a regimen of prescribed medication, and there is clear potential for dangerous interactions.

Although there is a prevailing theory that teen substance abuse is actually an attempt to self-medicate underlying psychiatric issues, a recent meta-analysis contradicts this, concluding, however, that use of street drugs can in fact exacerbate the issues being treated. Therefore, even in the absence of problematic interaction, adding street drugs to a prescribed regimen is a bad strategy.  more

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