Get curious about psychedelics. Responsibly.

Category: Turning Inward

My weekly column in The Link newspaper.

Prioritize cannabis legalization!


Illustration by Sam Jones

In a recent VICE interview, President Obama told young people that cannabis legalization ought to be “way at the bottom” of their priorities, behind things like war and peace, the economy, and jobs. By framing legalization as separate from and inferior to these other issues (which is incorrect), he missed an excellent opportunity to highlight the drug war’s effects on and interconnection with the economy, jobs, war, and peace.

In response, I wrote an article on how these issues are interconnected and why you should prioritize cannabis legalization. Click here to check it out!

A Salvia Breakthrough: My First Trip

Turning Inward Logo

Logo: Sam Jones

My first psychedelic experience took place the summer before leaving for college. I smoked a large amount of 20x salvia extract and consequently underwent an extremely sudden and overwhelming ego death, for which I was completely unprepared. The experience was thoroughly disorienting and left me with many questions and few answers, if any at all. I felt it would be worthwhile to write about the experience, as it remains the most challenging and intense experience I’ve had to date, and one which broadened my horizons and continues to influence my interests and studies.

Read the trip report here! Afterward, you should check out this short interview where I spoke briefly with The Link’s Mathieu D’Amours about salvia and my experience.

In other news, you might have noticed the awesome new Turning Inward logo at the top of this post, courtesy of Sam Jones! He also did an excellent job of illustrating my salvia trip:

illustration by Sam Jones

Illustration: Sam Jones

A Guide to MDMA Harm Reduction


One of the cool things about writing these articles is that the people around me tend to feel more comfortable talking to me about drugs, and these conversations often provide inspiration for future pieces. After I wrote my first article, a friend got in touch to ask how they could best support one of their friends who wanted to try magic mushrooms for the first time, and that conversation resulted in my article on trip sitting. Talking to several friends about how they’ve benefited from their psychedelic use led me to publish an interview on one person’s use of psilocybin mushrooms to treat anxiety issues, and if all goes according to plan I’ll do more interviews like that in the future.

The inspiration for this piece is similar. Over the past several weeks, I’ve found myself providing harm reduction information for MDMA—things like supplements, dosage, drug testing, overheating, and staying hydrated—to a number of friends. Since I’m already aware of these things, it’s easy for me to forget that these are often things people are unaware of, or are not taking into consideration when doing MDMA or other drugs. So for those who don’t know (and those who don’t know they don’t know!), I wrote this guide to MDMA harm reduction. Enjoy!

NOTE: I tried my best to be comprehensive, but you should always take what you read with a grain of salt and make sure to do your own research, especially if you have questions that remain unanswered in what you’ve read so far. Erowid’s entry on MDMA is an excellent starting point; Bluelight and other drug forums such as the MDMA subreddit tend to have a knowledgeable community and can be good places to ask questions and find information. If you still have questions and want to talk, you can always reach out to me at gonzonieto [at] gmail [dot] com.


Psychedelic Self-Therapy: An Interview


This week I had the opportunity to interview someone who, over the course of a couple years, regularly used psilocybin mushrooms and found it helped him work through anxiety issues and regain the passion he’d lost.

Read the interview here! Afterwards, you should check out this interview between myself and The Link’s Mathieu D’Amours, where we talk a bit more in-depth about my article.

Distractible Minds


This week, I wrote about meditation and how it can help reestablish control over an easily distractible mind. Like many people, I am often at the whim of an often erratic attention span–difficulty concentrating on a task I’ve set out to do and catching myself thinking while other people are talking are but two nearly quotidian manifestations of this. What’s more, I always thought that this was something I had, not something I could improve or work on, and I was never aware of the degree to which it affected me until I stepped out of it.

Within the last year, there was one particular period where I was meditating daily for close to three months. By the end, I was noticing that I felt much more present and in control of my ability to focus. I was able to read and work on projects for longer than before; in conversations, it felt as though I was fully listening to and receiving the message that was being imparted rather than thinking over the person talking. I felt like I was beginning to grasp what it means to live in a present-minded fashion, and like I was intentionally using my time and focus rather than feeling frustrated at the whim of a capricious attention span.

As much as I learned about how beneficial regular meditation can be, I’ve struggled with continuing that since then, so I’ve also learned about how difficult it can be to maintain such a practice.

Nonetheless, I wanted to share what I learned from that period and share what worked for me in the hopes of making meditation a teensy bit more accessible. To read the article, click here!

Santa’s Shamanic Origins


This week, I wrote about the remarkable parallels between contemporary Christmas tradition and the mythologies of Amanita-using pre-Christian indigenous Siberian and North European cultures. Check it out here! The article draws heavily from a 2003 Cannabis Culture article and the references contained therein.

A Tripper’s Guide to the Galaxy

To complement my article on trip sitting, this week I wrote a brief guide with seven things you should think about if you’re considering taking psychedelics. Among them, the seeming paradox of setting intention while not having expectations; cleaning up your setting; and setting aside the following day for reflection and integration. Check it out here!

For more reading, you should check out Myron Stolaroff’s “Using Psychedelics Wisely”, hosted on Erowid and also appearing as chapter 8 of Charles Grob’s “Hallucinogens: a reader“.


Could an Illegal Drug Change the Way We Treat Psychological Trauma?

illustration: Sam Jones

This week, I wrote about MDMA research, and the story of Nicholas Blackston, whom I had the pleasure of seeing speak at the Horizons 2014 conference in New York. He is a two-time Iraq war veteran who returned from his deployments with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After failing to find relief through available treatment, he was admitted into a study using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat victims of PTSD. This therapy was successful in giving him the healing he needed. Read the article!

While you’re at it, you should also check out the fantastic Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). Their page on MDMA research can be found here.


Psychedelic Trip Sitting

graphic: Sam Jones

graphic: Sam Jones

Based on last week’s article, a friend started a conversation with me about how they could best support their friend who would soon be doing magic mushrooms, to ensure all went well and that they benefited from their experience. After a lengthy conversation on trip sitting, I decided it’d make a great topic for an article! So here you go, a short how-to on facilitating your friend’s psychedelic experiences. Hopefully you and your friends find it useful!

A Psychedelic Renaissance

psychedelic renaissance Madeleine Gendreau

illustration: Madeleine Gendreau

Today I published my first article in The Link! Titled “A Psychedelic Renaissance,” it goes over the need for people to become more educated about the drugs that surround them:

The word “drug” itself often keeps us from developing a more nuanced understanding of these substances. This is a term that places cannabis, heroin and MDMA into the same category, despite their radically different effects and harm profiles.

In political dialogue, the term “drugs” is Orwellian; it’s a scare-tactic word that lumps the good with the bad and the ugly.

. . .

The mindset regarding drugs is similar to sex: if we’re not well-informed, the first thing to do is educate ourselves in order to sort the facts from the stigma and sensational preconceived notions—and to ensure our safety.

Seek out information on substances that you’re curious about; ask friends that have experience with these substances, or spend some time reading the endless trip reports that exist on sites like Erowid to get a better idea of what the subjective experience is like on a particular substance.

The article also gives a brief overview of some exciting recent and ongoing psychedelic research. To check it out, click here!

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