Racial Disparities In Opioid Addiction Treatment In Black And White Populations
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Comparable to the likes of ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms, and mescaline, a new mind-altering drug is hitting the US psychedelic scene – toad venom. The drug comes from a rare species of toad native to the Sonoran Desert, Bufo Alvarius, which produces a venom known as 5-MeO-DMT: an extremely potent natural psychedelic. 5-MeO-DMT is about four to six times more powerful than its better-known cousin DMT (dimethyltryptamine).
The narcotic has long been ingested by licking the poisonous amphibian’s back but is now more commonly consumed as a smokable “dust” form. The liquid is extracted by milking the toad’s toxic venom glands and then dehydrating it into a crumbly dry paste. Shamans throughout Mexico and the southwestern US have been harvesting and smoking the substance for decades, and now thousands of people throughout the country are seeking out the powerful psychedelic.
The drug’s hallucinogenic effects take hold in about five minutes after ingestion, causing a powerful religious-like trip that lasts about an hour. Individuals that have taken the toad venom described their trips as being one with the universe and feeling “reborn” – one user said they felt “a total fusion with God” while under the influence. Users experience bright colors, moving environments, or recursive patterns. According to researchers, the drug often leaves users immobile and unresponsive, and can cause intense emotional reactions, euphoria, convulsions, and vomiting.
It’s such an intense experience that, in most cases, doing it at a party isn’t safe. It’s not a recreational drug. If people get dosed too high, they can ‘white out’ and disassociate from their mind and body.
In addition to the possible harmful effects users can experience while tripping, many people suffer from extreme nausea and confusion for days after. However, this hasn’t stopped psychedelic drug-lovers across the nation from seeking out the Schedule 1 classified substance, which carries the threat of a 10-year prison sentence for possession. Users even hire foreign shamans to distribute the drug at parties that typically cost around $200 to $500 a head to attend.
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Once the venom wears off, users say that they experience an afterglow that can trigger them to make major, positive life changes. 5-MeO-DMT appears to have a placebo analgesic effect comparable to hypnosis. The drug has shown to help break attachments to past trauma, negative behaviors, and habitual negative thought patterns.
Such beneficial psychological effects has led some researchers to believe that in a controlled setting with a well-trained professional, the venom could be useful in treating anxiety and depression. In fact, preliminary studies performed by John Hopkins University suggest that it may combat depression and anxiety just as effectively as psilocybin, in addition to requiring a much shorter duration of time to reap the therapeutic benefits.
To study the potential medicinal effects of 5-MeO-DMT, John Hopkins Psychedelics researcher Alan Davis conducted an online survey that included 362 people that routinely uses the toad venom in ceremonial group settings. Respondents reported that they had attended sessions containing between five to 12 people in which each ceremony is overseen by a sober facilitator who administers the drug. Participants took turns being dosed and then ended the experience with a “closing circle” where they shared their thoughts on the spiritual journeys they each took while tripping. Of the 162 individuals that self-reported as suffering from anxiety or depression, approximately 80% reported improvements in these conditions after using the drug.
Davis believes the 5-MeO-DMT found in toad venom is effective at treating these mental illnesses due to a combination of neurological changes in users’ brains and insights they gained through the psychedelic experience. Davis hopes that the research that is being performed at John Hopkins will inspire other people to follow suit and explore the option of using psychedelics as possible treatment options.
However, it’s important to note that researchers do not support recreational use of toad venom and cite that the drug should only be administered under medical supervision.
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