Student Initiatives in Psychedelic Education

In September 2015 students from the Psychedelic Club at the University of Colorado (CU) organized a National Psychedelic Symposium. The Psychedelic Club is one of two student led organizations in Boulder, Colorado that provides resources around psychedelics and harm reduction. The other student organization in Boulder is the Naropa Alliance for Psychedelic Studies (NAPS). Noted speakers at the National Psychedelic Symposium included Dimethlytryptamine (DMT) researcher Rick Strassman, a former NAPS organizer now working with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and other local researchers. Roughly 1,000 people were in attendance throughout the day. The amount of interest and positive feedback from the symposium , along with other efforts of psychedelic student organizations, could foster a lasting change to the cultural conversations and knowledge of psychoactive substances.

The video embedded here, All is Fair in Love and War, is the story of veteran and 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) psychotherapy patient James Casey. He is now a CU student studying Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and President of the Psychedelic Club. In All is Fair in Love and War Casey discusses his experience with non treatable PTSD upon returning from Afghanistan. He points to the effect of the social stipulations around psychedelic psychotherapy in deciding to get care, and to the effect of psychedelics in today’s world. I like this video because it shows the personal and scientific relevance of psychedelic research getting a voice through a student action of the symposium.

The social implications from the work of organizations such as the Psychedelic Club and NAPS is apparent in several ways. The student initiatives give access to accurate education on scientific and psychiatric understanding of psychedelics. They create a place for not only students but the whole community to discuss knowledge, misconceptions, apprehensions, and experiences of psychedelics. A community of people is coming together around the otherwise taboo topic of psychedelics for scientific, social, and recreational purposes.

I have gotten the opportunity to work with the Psychedelic Club and NAPS. I see that such student run initiatives could be vital in supporting a larger cultural shift towards safe use and continued research of psychedelics. The students advocate for people to test their substances as a preventative standard before use (an informal Boulder study found about 80% of MDMA was various harmful research chemicals). Past students and current have confronted concert venues and music festivals in order to provide trained psychedelic support at events, saving people from ending up in the hospital. It will be interesting to see the longitudinal result of the interface of student led education around psychedelic harm reduction, research, and psychotherapy.

Learn more here:
Psychedelic Club at CU Boulder: