1.3 Opening the dialogue.
Controlling the narrative.
In an Instagram age of ever shortening attention spans, headlines are often taken at face value. The promise of a ‘cure’ for a range of mental health issues through psychedelics will offer hope to millions of people around the world.
Money talks in an industry predicted to be worth $7.6bn by 2026, and there is a dangerous landscape emerging where the narrative is sugar coated; focussing only on the benefits without clearly and directly addressing the dangers of using psychedelics in an uncontrolled environment.
The Full Picture of Psychedelics
Psychedelics work in a very different way to traditional SSRIs (the current favored method of treatment for depression). Where SSRIs work to numb the causes of depression, psychedelics do the opposite, taking users on a journey of discovery to help them unlock and confront deeply rooted issues. As famous psychonaught and ethnobotanist Terrance McKenna puts it: ‘Pscilocybin pulls up a chair next to your subconscious and listens’.
Psychedelic therapy works as part of a framework where therapists work with a patient over multiple sessions before their journey, and then work with them post the experience to integrate the experience and heal. The psychedelic is the facilitator but is not in and of itself, a cure.
These are powerful, mind altering substances and a bad experience on them can be a living hellscape that you can’t stop and you can’t control. They can be terrifying, confusing and can open doors that may affect even the most seasoned user for hours, weeks, months or years to follow.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of a controlled narrative here, and anyone operating in this space should have harm reduction front and centre. We live in a digital age where drugs have never been more readily available and, as is the case with psilocybin, people can grow their own with very limited knowledge on the subject.
This would clearly never be the lead angle for a brand, but it will need to play a supporting role. Regular content creation focussed on open and honest dialogue, education and awareness campaigns, and partnerships with charities like Fireside Project (a Psychedelic peer support line that provides emotional support during and after psychedelic experiences.) should all be part of the mix when considering the ‘future resilient temple construct’.
Avoidance of the subject of harm prevention because it doesn’t fit the brand narrative runs the risk of all of the progressive work done in this space being overshadowed by tragedy, moving things backwards rather than forwards.