Mom, I did drugs

Despite growing up surrounded by moral and religious warnings against drug use, I’ve always been curious about psychedelics. With the recent surge in interest and research around their therapeutic potential, I knew it was only a matter of time before I explored this groundbreaking treatment myself.

When presented with an opportunity to bring Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy, or KAP, into my practice, I consulted with a trusted colleague, Dave MacDonald LCSW,  who had extensive experience in the psychedelic world and encouraged me to have my own “experience” before working with clients. While one part of me agreed and thought it necessary, my inner-5th-grade self (fresh out of the DARE presentation) was screaming, ‘Just say no to drugs!’

Although my younger self carried the fear of ending up with an egg-fried brain, I willed myself to reach out to a provider who would provide a therapeutic setting for me to experience KAP in a compassionate and caring environment.

What is Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy?

To better understand what I was about to undertake, I delved into the science and practice of Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy. During my medical intake with Asheville Integrative Psychiatry, I learned how ketamine can allow the mind and body to disconnect, creating new neuropathways in the brain. This helps let go of inhibitive thoughts and beliefs while forming new, positive ones. 

Understanding the science of why and how KAP can be helpful sat well with the logical parts of me. Yet, I still held onto the anxieties of my younger self, who remembered the anti-drug education and pledges I made as a pubescent child to never engage in drug use. 

After intentionally connecting with this part of myself, I was able to see the value of the anxiety it carried while still trusting myself to move forward with the dosing session.

Dosing Session – What it was like for me

Growing up, I was a “good kid” raised in a decently strict household, and I would have never been found near drugs or alcohol. In fact, as a teenager, I hosted “clean and sober” parties—but let’s not get into that now. The point being, I was anxious as hell about what this would be like. However, I leaned into the process, trusted my therapist and medical provider, and allowed the experience to unfold as it needed to.

As I began the session, my eyes closed, and I experienced warmth and a gentle glow coming from above. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that this was just sunlight shining through the window of the cabin where my KAP session was taking place. The logical part of my brain knew that it was raining, and sunshine couldn’t be coming through the window—yet it was. The gentle rays of sunshine, the music, and the subconscious memories engulfed me; tears streaming. The masculine side of me that says, “Don’t show your emotions, be strong,” was relaxed enough to see this unfold but not need to stop what was happening.

The serendipity of letting an experience happen while emphasizing the awareness needed to let go was such a meaningful experience. The small moments of the sun pressing through clouds to gently touch my face and offer comfort and support. All while I was flooded with subconscious memories of when I was not okay; yet still being present in this room—and being okay.

My KAP experience was full of these “coincidences” that are easy to look at now and say are just happenstance. During the dosing session, I recall intense gratitude for my own healing journey, my interest in becoming a KAP provider, my trust in the colleague I consulted with, my clinicians, and my curiosity in psychedelics leading me to the experience I’m having now. 

Serendipity was just as crucial in my experience as anything else. Without the medicine, would I have realized this? Would I have been able to piece these things together and let go enough to learn from my pain and curiosity?

After KAP

My experience ended just as quickly as it started. After the dosing session, I felt a sense of clarity and compassion for myself in ways I didn’t know I could. I felt a sense of connection with people who had hurt me and a relief in being able to see this hurt that I didn’t know I carried. This energy was very fresh for me in the days after my dose, but the real benefit came during the integration session when I was able to discuss my experience and find ways to re-introduce and integrate these insights into my daily life.

In the end, KAP didn’t magically solve everything, but it offered me a profound tool to uncover and embrace parts of myself I’d long ignored, guiding me to a more integrated and compassionate version of myself.

If you are interested in learning more about Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy, you can contact me to talk to me about getting started.

Joe Mixon, LMFT