Psychedelics and Consciousness: The Connection Explained

The connection between psychedelics and consciousness has always been a fascinating and highly talked-about topic. While some people believe certain psychedelics have mysterious powers that can alter consciousness and provide unique insights, others don’t find such claims believable.

But the real question is – what is the actual connection between psychedelics and consciousness? And do psychedelics have the power to affect and alter an individual’s consciousness?

Read this blog post till the end to find out everything about it!

What Exactly Are Psychedelics?

Simply put, psychedelics are a form of psychoactive substances that are known to affect and change an individual’s perception, cognition, and mood. They are also known as hallucinogens. This is because of the fact that after consuming them, certain people can start hallucinating.

Common psychedelics include substances like psilocybin (found in magic mushrooms), LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide), and DMT (Dimethyltryptamine). These substances basically work by changing the normal functioning of the human brain. This, in turn, causes multiple changes in neural activity and connectivity, leading to people “experiencing” unusual things or seeing unique insights.

Psychedelics are actually nothing new. They have been in existence for thousands of years. Earlier, they were used by people for religious or spiritual purposes. However, today, their mystical powers have become a topic of interest for scientists and researchers.

Understanding Consciousness

Now, before we talk about the connection between psychedelics and consciousness, it is important to understand what consciousness is in the first place.

In simple terms, consciousness can be defined as a person’s ability to be aware of their emotions, thoughts, and whereabouts. However, it is not just that. It is an incredibly complex and multi-dimensional concept that has kept philosophers, psychologists, and scientists fascinated for centuries.

Now, psychedelics have been known to affect a person’s consciousness by heightening their awareness and emotions and changing their sensory perception. People under the effect of psychedelics report experiencing emotional clarity, reduction in anxiety, and so on.

The Connection Between Psychedelics and Consciousness

There have been multiple past and current studies on how psychedelics affect an individual’s consciousness. A recent one, conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine, revealed that after a psychedelic experience, people experienced a rise in the attribution of consciousness.

They experienced heightened emotions and awareness, and felt like everything “became more alive.” The research was conducted on 1,606 participants who were 35 years old on average.

Certain studies have also suggested that psychedelic substances can also affect some specific neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. This, in turn, alters the functioning of a person’s brain, thereby affecting their consciousnesses.

These substances affect a person’s serotonin (the chemical that transports messages between the nerve cells in a person’s brain). It causes a change in the brain’s normal neural activity and connectivity, thereby altering their states of consciousness.

It has been discovered that people who consumed psychedelics often reported feeling mystical experiences, a unique feeling of getting transcended into another realm, and of being united with the universe.

Psychedelics and Their Connection With the Treatment of Anxiety and Depression

Along with affecting an individual’s consciousness, psychedelics also have certain therapeutic benefits. It is believed that these substances were experimentally used in psychiatry earlier.

There are no solid records of when and for how long psychedelics were used in psychiatry. But thousands of papers and dozens of books have discussed psychedelic drug therapy between 1950 and mid-1960.

Even today, psychedelics have been found to have a positive effect in dealing with mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more. Psychedelic substance, specifically psilocybin, has shown potential in reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

By altering a person’s state of consciousness, psychedelics can lower feelings of fear, uneasiness, and anxiety. On the other hand, they increase the feelings of empathy in a person. This gives them a new perspective on their lives and relationships and helps them see the positives instead of the negative in everything.

While all this is still in its earliest stage and more research needs to be done, psychedelics can definitely prove to be helpful in dealing with mental health conditions.

The Road Ahead

So, there you go! That was all about psychedelics and their connection with consciousness. While these substances have existed for thousands of years, the recent re-emergence of psychedelic research has piqued the interest of many people.

Scientists and researchers all around the globe are exploring the potential of psychedelic substances and how much they can affect our consciousness. As we move ahead, we can expect to find out newer ways of how these substances can be used to explore the nature of consciousness and the brain’s complex mechanisms.


How Psychedelic Drugs Help With The Treatment Of Neurodegenerative Diseases

For neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, there are no lasting treatment options. In recent years, research into psychedelic drugs indicates that they might have a therapeutic role to play. Studies have been done on psilocybin as well as lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. From micro-dosing, people have also learned that there are cognitive benefits to using psychedelic drugs.

Since psychedelics can stimulate neurogenesis, they can help people suffering from various neurological as well as psychiatric disorders. Psychedelics can also provoke changes that are neuroplastic, and can also help in reducing neuroinflammation. This makes using psychedelics useful for people living with neurodegenerative diseases.

Psychedelics And Helping Treat Neurodegenerative Disorders

Across the world, over fifty million people have dementia. Of these, more than half suffer from Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that has no cure.

In recent years, more and more researchers are getting interested in psychedelics. They want to know how psychedelics can affect people with neurological or psychiatric disorders. It was seen, that the 5HT2A-R was in higher concentrations than normal, in those parts of the brain, that are more likely to be affected by dementia.

These regions include the hippocampus, as well as the prefrontal cortex. With the help of psychedelics, brain plasticity can be induced. It also helps in modifying connections between parts of the brain. Anecdotal evidence suggests that micro-dosing with psychedelics can have cognitive benefits. Micro-dosing is a dose where there’s no perceptual change, and functioning isn’t impaired.

What Are The Cognitive Effects Of Using Psychedelics?

When people micro-dose on psychedelics, such as psilocybin, they experience an increase in their cognitive fluency. In a study that the Dutch Psychedelic Society conducted, thirty-three participants were asked to micro-dose on psilocybin. Then, any changes in their cognitive functioning were noted down. Participants reported feeling more cognitively flexible.

What Are The Longer-Term Effects Of Using Psychedelics?

Experiments were done on rats where their 5HT2A-R was activated, and they were provided with mid-doses of psilocybin. It was seen that their prospective learning as well as their retrospective learning was enhanced. If consecutive daily doses were provided, then the effects of the psychedelics started to go down.

An observational study was done on around eighty-nine recreational psychedelics users. They were asked about their experience after using psychedelics. They revealed that they witnessed improvements in several areas, such as creativity as well as attention.

Improvements continued to be seen for the next six weeks. So far, no real research has been done on micro-dosing people who are cognitively impaired. Studies done on taking high doses of psilocybin and LSD showed that users experienced benefits over the long term, on their moods. In ten patients who suffer from diseases that are life-threatening, LSD was used alongside assisted psychotherapy, on the patients. This led to a reduction in anxiety.

Even after therapy, the patients reported feeling less anxious for at least a year. Two-thirds of those who participated in this study also reported that using psychedelics helped in improving their quality of life.

People with depression that is treatment-resistant were also provided with psilocybin. Around 10mg and then 25mg of the psychedelic drug was given one week apart. This led to a remission of the depression. This remission continued for up to at least six months following the treatment.

Instances like this have led to researchers looking into high doses of psilocybin, and how it can treat depression. It can also be used in treating neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, in the early stages.

Should You Take Psychedelics If You Suffer From A Neurodegenerative Disorder?

There is a greater need than ever before, to develop treatments for neurodegenerative disorders. Psychedelic compounds have the ability to influence as well as enhance neuronal connectivity that is functional. It can stimulate neurogenesis, as well as restore plasticity of the brain.

Inflammation can be reduced, and cognitive performance can be enhanced. Further research needs to be done on how psychedelic drugs affect people with neurodegenerative diseases. However, studies done on recreational users as well as other control groups, have showcased that cognition improves post-psychedelic use. This effect, in some people, could persist for a long period of time.


A number of people have reported feeling more creative, as well as cognitively flexible, following the use of psychedelic substances. People with neurodegenerative diseases can benefit from using psychedelic substances as well. Psychedelics can help in reducing anxiety and depression and can also have long-term mental health benefits for a number of people.

How Psychedelics Can Help People with Alcohol Use Disorder

Psychedelics have long been a topic of fascination and controversy in the world of medicine. The National Library of Medicine recognizes the potential therapeutic benefits of these substances, particularly in the treatment of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Psychedelic drugs such as LSD show promising therapeutic benefits in the treatment of alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD)

Alcohol use disorder, commonly known as alcoholism, is a chronic and often debilitating condition where a person has a strong, uncontrollable urge to drink despite the negative consequences on their life. AUD can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or background, ranging from mild to severe. It can develop gradually or suddenly due to genetics, environment, and individual behavior.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), an estimated 14.5 million adults (ages 18 and older) in the United States had an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2019. This represents 5.8% of the population. Additionally, about 401,000 adolescents (ages 12-17) had AUD in 2019.

Although therapy, medication, and support groups are available for alcohol addiction, many people still struggle. Psychedelics may provide a new and life-changing option.

Psychedelics in the Treatment of AUD

A small, preliminary study by researchers at New York University and Johns Hopkins University involved giving psilocybin to 93 people with alcohol use disorder, and 12 psychotherapy sessions. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either two doses of psilocybin or a placebo. After eight months, over 80% of those who received psilocybin had reduced their drinking. In contrast, just over 50% of the control group who received the placebo had reduced drinking. At the end of the trial, half of those who received psilocybin had quit drinking altogether, compared to only about one-quarter of the control group.

Dr. Michael Bogenschutz, the study author, stated, “There’s really something going on here that has a lot of clinical potential if we can figure out how to harness it.”


Some of the commonly studied psychedelics in the treatment of alcohol use disorder are:

  • Psilocybin (found in “magic mushrooms”)
  • LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide)
  • Ayahuasca (a brew from the Amazon)
  • Ibogaine (derived from the root of the iboga plant)
  • DMT (Dimethyltryptamine)

During the therapy sessions, patients are given a moderate dose of the psychedelic substance in a controlled setting, such as a therapist’s office or a clinical research setting. The patient is then encouraged to explore their thoughts and emotions while under the influence of the substance, with the guidance of a trained therapist.

After the therapy session, patients engage in integration therapy, which involves processing and making sense of the insights and experiences they had during the psychedelic experience. This process is facilitated by a trained therapist and is meant to help patients apply the insights and lessons from their psychedelic experience to their everyday lives.

How they work

The exact mechanisms by which psychedelics such as psilocybin may help with the treatment of alcohol use disorder are not fully understood and are the subject of ongoing research. However, it is thought that the drug may work by promoting neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to reorganize and form new neural connections. This may help individuals with alcohol addiction break free from negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with addiction and form new, healthier habits.

How they help

Some potential benefits of using psychedelics such as psilocybin to treat alcohol use disorder include:

  • Reduced cravings and urges to drink
  • Increased motivation and willingness to engage in treatment
  • Greater self-awareness and insight into underlying issues that may contribute to addiction
  • Improved mood and sense of well-being
  • Enhanced neural plasticity, which may help individuals form new, healthier habits and break free from negative patterns of thought and behavior
  • Greater spiritual or mystical experiences, which may provide a sense of purpose and meaning that can aid in recovery.

The Legal Status of Psychedelics in the United States

Psychedelics such as psilocybin, LSD, and DMT are illegal under federal law in the United States. They are classified as Schedule I drugs, meaning they are considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. some researchers have received special permission to study their potential therapeutic benefits in the treatment of various mental health conditions, including alcohol addiction.

The use of psychedelics in the treatment of alcohol addiction may seem unconventional. But, there is growing evidence that these substances could offer a new and potentially life-changing option for those struggling with addiction. However, more research is needed to fully understand their safety and efficacy as a treatment option.

Any use of psychedelics should be done under the guidance and supervision of a trained healthcare professional. With further research and clinical trials, psychedelics could become a mainstream treatment option for alcohol addiction and other mental health conditions.


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