Over the past few years we have seen a rapid growth in interest in psychedelics and how they can fit into healthcare, particularly in the mental health space, to address issues such as Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, Suicidality, Addiction and Existential crisis. The current medications we do have, have not elicited the responses psychiatric experts expected when they first emerged. Oftentimes our current options take weeks to show any beneficial responses and often come with non-desirable side effects. This is not to negate that our current medication options haven’t been life saving for people, but they don’t seem to address the root cause of suffering, which is where psychedelics may just be able to make that difference allowing the brain to essentially rewire itself in a new way.
A psychedelic is defined as:
- of, relating to, or being drugs capable of producing abnormal psychic effects such as hallucinations and sometimes psychotic states.
- Powerful psychoactive substances that alter perception and mood and affect numerous cognitive processes. They are generally considered physiologically safe and do not lead to dependence or addiction.
Many patients are looking for a last resort to help with the symptoms of their chronic states of depression/anxiety or continued patterns of behaviors that they are seeking to change, or to find purpose and connection to universal source, self, and all that is. While working as a hospice nurse I could palliate many symptoms with the tools I had, but existential terror was not one of them. The hope I have for hospice patients who have intense fear is that this modality can be offered as a method of palliation one day to the dying. I hope as a psychiatric nurse that intermittent treatments of psilocybin and ketamine are determined to be a safer method of treatment than having to take a pill daily and we determine the best way to get these modalities into patients hands safely and effectively. There is a lot of hope on the horizon.
So how do nurses fit into this current scene of psychedelics? By blazing our own trail just like we did in the cannabis space.
Because people are looking for:
- guidance in this new unfamiliar territory
- trusted information
- practitioners who can offer them alternative solutions to their suffering
And why do I think cannabis nurses fit even more seamlessly into this space? Because cannabis nurses are forced to be courageous, innovative, trailblazing, risk takers, who are fierce advocates and educators. Exactly the traits that are needed to enter into this new world of psychedelic medicine. I also believe that cannabis can be considered a psychedelic in the right instance and can lead to higher levels of conscious connection with oneself, which opens a door for a new way of thinking and connections, which is a reason many seek out a psychedelic intervention. So we as cannabis nurses, in working with cannabis patients are already exploring the fringe edges, and are participating in the development of the art and science of psychedelic medicine.
We as nurses are already expert ‘space-holders’ and ‘journey guides’, no matter our specialty, and we do it the best in the industry, if I do say so myself. We are the most trusted healthcare professionals 20 years running, and we are innovators and problem solvers. We are open to exploring new ‘out of the box’ ideas if there is a possibility it could offer healing to many. We are change agents, advocates and compassionate healers who meet our patients where they are at and know that true healing comes from within. We just help set the scene for our patients to find the answers to their own health journeys.
If you are interested in getting more involved, connect with one of the nurse-led groups and organizations that focus on psychedelics and how nurses can play a role. Organizations such as ‘OpeNurses’ and ‘The International Association of Psychedelic Nurses’ are bringing nurses together to learn and understand more about this rapidly evolving space, and psychedelic medicine in general.
So you see, as a nurse, particularly a cannabis nurse, we are perfectly positioned to begin entering the space of psychedelic medicine as guides and professionals and consultants.
In fact we need to be the ones leading the way here because we as nurses understand that this particular paradigm shift in healthcare needs to be led with heart and passion, not an iron fist with the end goal to make a fortune. I know no better profession to do this type of innovative conscious raising work.