Colorado State University’s Psychedelic Club is the first drug-specific official club at the University, founded by CSU students Teresa Egbert and Nick Tocci after they noticed a lack of resources for psychedelic information on campus.
“I’d been doing research on how to start a club since last semester,” Egbert said. “We started about a month and a half ago. Nick hit me up and said, ‘Hey, we should start a psychedelic club, I think it could work,’ so we teamed up and eventually got it started up.”
Aimed at providing education and community exposure for new and experienced psychedelic users, the Psychedelic Club is committed to spreading the word about the health benefits of psychedelics, particularly psilocybin mushrooms, in the context of Denver’s upcoming vote to decriminalize their use May 7.
“Our biggest thing is just trying to spread safety and harm reduction, as well as raise awareness for these substances that have been lied about for half a century,” Tocci said. “And along with that, I wanted to connect people because from what I just heard lots of people feel alienated from these experiences that they’ve had. They’re not alone, but they might not even realize it yet.”
Tocci is most interested in the ways psychedelics can impact and help the mental health of those who use them and offers them as a replacement for traditional mental health-related drugs.
The Psychedelic Club hosts meetings every Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. in Lory Student Center Room 372.
“From what I’ve seen, all of my friends who have been put on these synthetic medications like anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications etcetera, the fact that these (psychedelics) could help them, and they don’t have to go through all the problems that arise from anti-depressants,” Tocci said. “It just mind-boggles me that some anti-depressants can cause suicidal thoughts. And now that there’s something that has been proven to help people like that without those kinds of thoughts typically, it’s just amazing to me.”
The use of psychedelic drugs as a treatment for mental health symptoms may seem like homeopathic pseudoscience, but this practice is relatively backed by research. According to BBC news, a study done by UK scientist Dr.Carhart-Harris showed the impact of psilocybin on the brain- specifically the amygdala, which controls the processing of fear and anxiety.
Education, harm reduction and mental health are all stressed heavily at the Psychedelic Club’s weekly meetings, with different speakers giving presentations, group members leading visitors in group discussions and video-guided meditations setting the atmosphere for the entire meeting.
“At our first meeting, we were talking about what we wanted the club to do, what function as members we wanted to have,” member Ryan Carroll said. “One thing that I saw that the psychedelic club in Denver was doing was ‘psychedelic integration,’ and since I don’t have a lot of people in my life who have experienced these things, I wanted the opportunity to talk with other people about my experiences, hear their experiences and have sort of a peer support system. … My role is I just want to help with the mental health aspect of things because I know a lot of people use psychedelics not just for recreation but to help improve mental health.”
Carroll stresses the importance of harm reduction for psychedelic usage, but thinks it holds special prudence on CSU’s campus.
“I think, for one, that a lot of people in college, like it or don’t like it, are doing drugs,” Carroll said. “In particular with psychedelics at CSU — and really on any campus — is harm reduction. Look at it from a standpoint of abstinence versus knowledge in sex-ed classes. If you’re talking about drugs in terms of, ‘drugs are bad, don’t do drugs,’ people can go into it without knowledge or an understanding and are then more likely to get hurt … Students are going to use these drugs either way and when we set up this container of knowledge to educate people on destigmatizing it, that it’s your choice to do this, and asking how you can do it safely if you’re going to do it anyway.”
The Psychedelic Club hosts meetings every Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. in Lory Student Center Room 372. The club is open and to anyone, even to those with a casual interest.
“The reason this is so important to me is that I shouldn’t have to feel like a criminal for using something that has helped me so much,” Egbert said. “This is what I was born to do, and this is my purpose in life. The biggest thing is education (and) letting people know the risks.”
Walker Discoe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wdiscoe
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