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Getting High on the Eyes: Can a Staring Contest Alters Consciousness?

Getting High on the Eyes: Can a Staring Contest Alters Consciousness?

Author: Justin Mckibben

Have you ever felt high just by staring into someone’s eyes?

Well then you have probably been in love, at least once. Sounds like part of a sonnet or something, but maybe it’s more than a weakness for the hopeless romantic like myself. Maybe you really can catch a buzz off of someone else’s iris.

Apparently new experiments are claiming that staring intensely into a pair of eyes for a prolonged period of time can actually make people enter into an altered state of consciousness. LSD who?

Staring at Yourself

This isn’t the first time vision researcher Giovanni Caputo from the University of Urbino in Italy has studied the staring contest. In fact a few years ago he recruited 50 volunteers, asking each of them to gaze upon their reflections in a mirror for 10 minutes in a dimly lit room.

What is intriguing is that many of them attested to experiencing something trippy in less than 1 minute! Now that is a quick buzz.

Participants stated:

Their faces began to warp and change, taking on the appearance of:

  • Animals
  • Monsters
  • Deceased family members

This is a phenomenon that has been dubbed the “strange-face illusion.”

Now it appears these bizarre effects can become even more dramatic when we stare into another person instead of a mirror.

Staring Contest Study

So how is it we can experience this crazy trip from looking at someone’s eyes? I mean some people are taught it’s respectful to look someone in the eye as a kid, so how is it all the sudden we can do that and hallucinate?

This time around Caputo recruited 40 young adults and sorted them into pairs:

  • Each pair then sat in chairs in a dimly lit room
  • Participants were positioned 3.3 feet (1 meter) apart
  • Half of the pairs sat opposite one another, staring at each other’s neutral expressions
  • Half of the pairs sat back-to-back, staring at the wall

Lighting in the room was set so participants could pick up fine facial features, but color perception was diminished. Just for extra measure the participants, were told the study involved a meditative experience. So they were not informed of the nature of the study to assure any effects were not the result of them trying to meet any expectation.

After 10 minutes, participants then filled in questionnaires about their experiences in the room.

According to the British Psychological Society those in the group that faced one another described some very intruiging effects compared to the control group, including:

  • Higher levels of attenuated color intensity
  • Noises seeming louder than they should
  • Time seemed to slow down
  • They felt spaced out
  • Almost 90% of them said their partner’s face appeared deformed
  • 75% saw monstrous beings
  • 15% even saw traits of a relative’s face

Caputo says these descriptions indicate symptoms of dissociation, a term used to describe a departure from one’s connection with reality. Interestingly, he found that these symptoms correlated with facial deformity, but not the appearance of strange faces.

Caputo’s hypothesis was that “strange-face apparitions” could be a consequence of snapping back to “reality” after entering a dissociative state brought about by the lack of sensory stimulation.

So far what we know of a reaction called Troxler fading is that when staring at a central point for a prolonged period, features in the periphery begin to gradually disappear. However, this must be different because if this were happening then we would expect facial features to gradually vanish, not transform.

So far Caputo is the first to admit that his work is still in its infancy, and there is so much more about this amazing phenomenon that needs to be explored, but it would be interesting to find out what creates this crazy reaction.

Now you might not be able to try this at home, because the dimly lit room is expected to have something to do with it, but give it a shot. Be warned, you might never look at someone the same again. Side-effects may include scary-monster-face, or even catching a case of the feels. Good luck. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Most Common Drugs at Music Festivals

Most Common Drugs at Music Festivals

Author: Justin Mckibben

Music is an amazing expression of life beyond what we can say. Music has the power to transcend how we feel, and has the power to give some essence and substance to the beauty and the pain that we believe in and live through in our lives. Music festivals are another awesome opportunity to live in that; let’s just get that out there. We are talking about being able to spend a day or even a week entranced by guitar strings, bass pumping a heartbeat that is a melting-pot of culture and rhythm, camping out with your friends and engaging in all types of free form frolick-like fun and other shenanigans. It can be an experience like no other, and a catalyst into a breakthrough for someone who easily gets caught up in their head.

But there is also the risk of running into some more questionable extra-curricular circumstances at music festivals, like drug use.

Social media has lately become a frequently used medium to accumulate aggregating data, given that everyone is so willing to share their experiences and lives online the whole task of collecting information is made so much simpler. With sites like Facebook and Instagram that allow for fair use of users’ data, by logging on and translating vast quantities of shared experiences and preferences you can decipher a lot, and recently one website released some data detailing the amount of times that certain drugs were mentioned in Instagram posts with relevant festivals.

It should be understood that this is not a scientific study, and does not exactly describe the quantity or drugs taken at these festivals or how many people took them. This study simply took note of how often these drugs were mentioned in a variety of contexts.

Top Drugs Mentioned at Certain Festivals

The graphic released by the site depicted the percentage of social media posts mentioning a specific substance AND event. Again these posts are not direct evidence that each individual was themselves using the substance mentioned, but these averages are meant to show the music festivals and concerts where we see the highest mentions of specific drugs.

Burning Man

  • Mushrooms- 7.42%
  • DMT– 7.22%
  • LSD- 5.64%
  • Crack Cocaine- 3.85%
  • Mescaline- 0.48%

Camp Bisco

  • MDMA/Molly/Ecstasy- 21.00%
  • Mushrooms- 2.81%
  • LSD- 2.6%
  • Mescaline- 0.43%
  • Marijuana- 25.11%

Electric Daisy Carnival

  • MDMA/Molly/Ecstasy- 42.99%
  • DMT- 0.90%
  • Pills- 0.47%
  • Mescaline- 0.33%


  • Cocaine- 10.67%
  • Opioids- 5.63%
  • Pills- 0.29%


  • Marijuana- 25.05%
  • Mushrooms- 5.99%
  • Crack Cocaine- 3.73%

Ultra Music Festival

  • MDMA/Molly/Ecstasy- 37.68%
  • LSD- 2.61%

Mad Decent Block Party

  • Cocaine- 11.76%
  • Opioids- 5.88%

It doesn’t come as much of a shock to anyone familiar with the reputation of Burning Man to see that psychedelics were most prevalent in posts from that festival. Also showing up in many Burning Man Instagram posts was crack cocaine, a drug not commonly associated with music festivals, yet it shows up a few times on the list.

What may also not be much of a surprise is the prevelance of MDMA/Molly/Ecstasy in relation to the electronic music festivals listed, including Electric Daisy Carnival, Ultra Music Festival, Camp Bisco.

The data shown on the graph only listed the top 3 concerts or festivals by substance, so some only made the list in one category for one substance, but that still deserves mention.

  • Coachella for one only made the list once with its popular posts relating to cocaine use.
  • The same goes for Marley Fest, which didn’t make the top 3 in any other category, but scored highest on marijuana posts with 82.04% of Instagram posts containing key words relating to marijuana. Far out, right?
  • And the highest stat of ALL averages of social media posts actually came out of the KISS’s Chili Cook-off, where more than 90% of posts were related to alcohol.

Giving It Some Thought

So when we take into account all the information laid at our eyes by this collection of pics, tweets and tags, we have to acknowledge that drug use is prevalent at all music festivals, even the KISS Chili Cook-off and not just the more infamous and flamboyant festivals like Burning Man.

Giving it some thought, it doesn’t matter where you go, there will always been temptation. Realistically whether you are at a music festival or a middle-school play-ground there will be the possibility of exposure to drugs. What is important isn’t that we blame the places and things, but instead make an honest effort to educate young people about the dangers these drugs pose to them, and promote positive life-style choices that still allow for them to experience exciting events.

In sobriety I have attended music festivals and concerts. I have a roommate who has been sober a number of years and goes to more concerts and festivals than anyone I know, and I actually attend more live concerts and events in sobriety than I ever did using drugs and drinking. My life has been a lot more fulfilling for each experience, and getting my life back (and better) has shown me that I can be in the moment, and that freedom for me makes more room for the music.

Music festivals are a unique experience, but too many people use them as an excuse to abuse drugs that can dull them to that experience and put them at serious risk. Too many times we hear stories of people serious hurt or poisoned by drugs at concerts, and that doesn’t sound worth it. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135   

Ibogaine in Addiction Treatment…in the U.S.?

Ibogaine in Addiction Treatment…in the U.S.?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

By Cheryl Steinberg

In the past, we’ve written about the ibogaine plant and how some have used it in order to treat their drug addictions. Many claim that this shamanistic treatment has helped rid them of their disease of addiction, especially when it comes to opiate addiction.

We’ve also recently told you about how reality TV star Scott Disick — of Keeping Up With The Kardashians fame — announced that he had chosen to undergo ibogaine therapy at a treatment center in Costa Rica.

Considering that the drug is currently illegal in the U.S. and claims vary among users, it’s no wonder that that treating addiction with ibogaine in controversial, at least in the country.

But can ibogaine become not only accepted for use in the U.S., but an integral part of the way we treat substance use disorder and addiction? Well, there’s been talk of a radical new treatment modality in Vermont, utilizing ibogaine as a tool in treatment.

How Ibogaine Works

Ibogaine is derived from the iboga shrub and is a naturally occurring compound that serves as an interruption in the cycle of substance use disorders, and especially opioid abuse and addiction. It’s reported that ibogaine use also provides other neurological and psychological benefits in that it opens up “deep personal insights” in its users.

As it stands now, people seeking ibogaine treatment will travel to other countries, such as Mexico, where ibogaine is not illegal.

Some people who have undergone ibogaine treatment report a lasting reversal of symptoms related to their addiction. And although ibogaine has an immense amount of reported benefits, like any other drug, it is not without its risks. Ibogaine is known to have cardiovascular implications, having caused complications and even death in people with preexisting health issues.

So far, ibogaine is listed as a felony Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S.

Why Vermont?

Unfortunately, in a relatively short amount of time, Vermont has become the epicenter of the national heroin epidemic and the focal point for concerns regarding opiates and opioid use disorders.

According to the Vermont Department of Health, the number of heroin-related deaths was 35 in 2014, an increase of 66% from 21 deaths in 2013. Opiate abuse is so prevalent in the northern state that just last year, its Governor Peter Shumlin spent his entire State of the State address speaking to the heroin issue in the state, citing Vermont’s 250% increase in heroin treatment and 770% increase in treatment for all opiates since 2000.

Ibogaine in Addiction Treatment…in the U.S.?

Recently, a bill was introduced in the Vermont’s House of Representatives that goes beyond the state’s initial controversial legislation: that of regulating and taxing marijuana.

The bill, H. 387 would allow for a pilot program that utilizes ibogaine in the treatment of substance use disorders. On March 10th, Rep. Paul Dame (R-Chittenden-8-2) and Rep. Joseph “Chip” Troiano (D-Caledonia-2) introduced the bill. It has since been referred to the House Committee on Human Services.

The bill would allow for the development and implementation of a three-year pilot program to dispense ibogaine in the treatment of drug- and alcohol- addicted individuals. Eligibility required that the person is diagnosed with a severe and persistent substance abuse disorder by a health care provider and that such diagnosis was made in the course of a legitimate health care provider-patient relationship. The individual’s physician must also verify that medical efforts were made but to no avail as the patient’s reliance on drugs or alcohol has continued. An ibogaine dispensary would be operated by the Department of Health combined with a nonprofit organization.

Rep. Dame has said of the ibogaine treatment “[it’s] an interesting idea that has shown results in other countries.” He sees the bill as having the potential to save the millions of dollars in reduced treatment costs as well as shortened waiting lists for treatment programs.

“We talk a lot about protecting people’s freedoms, and here is a way we might be able to help Vermonters free themselves from a serious addiction,” he said.

Vermont’s H. 387 is actually not the first piece of ibogaine legislation in the United States. Back in 1992, then New York State Senator Joseph Galiber introduced a bill that that would make it mandatory for the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to encourage and support ibogaine research as a treatment for heroin and cocaine addiction. Unfortunately, that bill never moved out of committee.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, it can make for a very desperate situation. We here are Palm Partners know and understand that. That’s why we offer a safe and comfortable place for you to begin your journey back to good health and a healthy, happy overall well-being. We offer holistic treatments interwoven with all of the industry standards that have stood the test of time. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

First Clinical Trial for MDMA Use in Therapy

First Clinical Trial for MDMA Use in Therapy

By Cheryl Steinberg

Public support for the use of psychedelic drugs in a therapeutic setting is rapidly growing, as we’ve already reported. Cases such as the use of LSD to treat depression and possibly addiction are indications of that. MDMA has been used to treat PTSD. There’s ayahuasca-assisted therapy to treat drug addiction. LSD for cluster headaches and psilocybin for nicotine addiction.

Well, the latest news on the alternative medicine front has to do with the therapeutic use of MDMA – the pure form of the club drug Ecstasy – for use in treating specific situations involving a psychological disorder. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has just approved the first clinical trial using MDMA in psychotherapy sessions in order to treat anxiety in people who are also suffering with life-threatening illnesses, researchers told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

So, as it stands, MDMA is not being used to treat anxiety, alone; rather anxiety in people who are already sick.

The DEA approved the project on Friday, says Brad Burge, the communications director for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He added, “The tide has changed for psychedelic research.” MAPS is a California-based nonprofit research group that is sponsoring the study. Researchers at MAPS study medicinal uses for psychedelics as well as marijuana.

On the MAPS website, the distinction between Ecstasy or Molly, which are street names for MDMA, and actual, pure MDMA. The stuff sold on the street and in clubs is often “cut” with other drugs and chemicals so as to bolster profits for dealers, putting the user unknowingly at risk. But, the MAPS website says, pure MDMA has been proven “sufficiently safe” when taken a limited number of times in moderate doses.

First Clinical Trial for MDMA Use in Therapy

Unlike psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin, MDMA does not produce hallucinations, which is some people may find disturbing. Rather, MDMA can be induces feelings of calm, trust and confidence, all of which can be extremely useful for people suffering from anxiety due to life-threatening illnesses, when used in combination with psychotherapy.

The clinical trial will be held in Marin, California, and has purposely been designed to take place in a psychologist’s office, instead of a hospital setting, Burge said. The patients will lie on a couch with a therapist nearby who will lend support and facilitate conversation.

The trial will consist of 18 subjects who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses and who suffer from anxiety as a result. The participants will attend psychotherapy sessions over the course of several months, with MDMA being incorporated in only some of those sessions, in order to facilitate the process, Burge said. The outcome will be measured at the end of the sessions by the patient’s self-reporting and the therapist’s assessments regarding whether using the drug helped to reduce people’s anxiety.

Of MDMA, Burge said, “It opens [patients] up and makes them more comfortable with the therapist while reducing fear and making them more able to talk about difficult emotions.”

If this pilot clinical trial is a success, MAPS has plans to continue the research with larger studies that involve more participants as well as different approaches. For now, though, the goal of the researchers is to establish basic safety and effectiveness.

The trial is part of a larger $20 million plan to make MDMA an FDA-approved prescription medicine by 2021, Burge said. MAPS is the only organization in the world funding MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials, he added.

Changing the Stigma

Researchers hope to add to and bolster already-existing (and growing) evidence that psychedelics have legitimate therapeutic uses — as well as to challenge the stigma that has demonized them as harsh drugs that destroy the mind.

“That’s what the really good science shows, despite decades of propaganda and government misinformation,” Burge said. “Just a couple weeks ago, a phenomenal study showed that there are no long-term associations between psychedelic use and mental illnesses.”

That study was published this month in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. In addition, a recent report by Johns Hopkins Medicine showed that the use of psychedelic drugs, specifically psilocybin and LSD, could reduce psychological distress and suicidal thinking.

Addiction and mental illness are often co-occurring conditions in substance use disorder cases. Luckily, there are specially-equipped, intentionally-designed treatment programs that offer dual diagnosis treatment and therapy. These programs, such as the one here at Palm Partners, are adept at treating all conditions simultaneously so that healing can start and the recovery process can be begun. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 today.  

His Highness Lord Disick Goes on a ‘Trip’ to Rehab

His Highness Lord Disick Goes on a ‘Trip’ to Rehab

Author: Justin Mckibben

Celebrities are known for their outlandish life-styles and impossibly extraordinary stories, including rises to fame from utter poverty, all the way to insanely turbulent relationships and controversy. And one family who is no stranger to that kind of lime-light allure is the Kardashians. With Kim and Kayne doing everything they can to push as many buttons of the general public as possible, and the other Kardashian sisters living it up on television, Scott Disick is a character who was introduced in the background and quickly became a fan favorite for his sarcasm and edgy smarta** wit.

Well beyond his antics on camera, Scott is no stranger to some on and off-screen drama himself, and after an all-too-short stint in rehab last year, the reality star has checked into a bizarre and perhaps foolhardy luxury rehab center in Costa Rica in another attempt to beat his alcohol addiction.

Scotts Troubles

Disick, or ‘Lord Disick’ as he has been known to prefer, is best known as the father to Kourtney Kardashian’s three children. In a recent press release Scott announced his latest return to rehab. He checked into the Rythmia Life Advancement Center after being caught in Atlantic City last weekend stumbling around in a drunken stupor.

During the press release Scott made a confession about his problems with drinking,

“My issues are bigger than me and I’m ready to truly remedy this struggle I continue to battle.”

This isn’t the first time Scott has seen this problem in his life, Disick had entered a rehab for a short 5 days last summer.  At the time Disick claimed to have realized he was drinking to cope with the death of his parents, both of whom had passed away within the last year.

In an episode from last November of the reality TV show Kourtney & Khloe Take the Hamptons, Disick was shown inebriated on screen to the point he could not speak or stand up straight. His bodyguard had to physically pick him up and carry him to bed, where Disick asked his friend if they could take more sleeping pills. Obviously Disick is an individual who is no stranger to the party scene. So having been to rehab once, what is he doing differently?

Rythmia Life Advancement Center

What’s the big deal has a lot of people raising some eye-brows? Well this center uses the African psychedelic shrub iboga to send patients on a vision quest to kick their addictions. These rituals, referred to as the “iboga flights” are intended to force patients to examine the root of their addictions and what triggers them through this trip.

Sources reported that in this treatment program a shaman observes a patient during their experience with the psychedelic, and stated that this treatment typically takes several weeks.

Rythmia Center CEO Gerard Powell stands by his treatment method as someone who underwent this kind of program and believes in its methods. Powell has said that he was once himself addicted to alcohol and cigarettes until being introduced to the iboga plant. Powell even goes so far as to claim that the psychedelic experience actually cured him of his cravings the day after using it.

The Rythmia Center facility does not follow most typically treatment models, and even denies that addiction is a disease. The Rythmia Center follows a different ideology, and Gerard Powell himself stated,

We believe people like Scott become dependent on their vices due to past events they have not reconciled with, current conditions they cannot cope with, and things they believe aren’t true.”

Kardashian had previously told him that he’s an alcoholic and wanted to set “ground rules” for ‘Lord Scotts’ partying since he’s a father, but apparently moderation is still not working out so well.

But is this really going to change things? If Scott is expecting the answer to his drinking problem to be found in a binge of hallucinogenic plant trips combined with therapy will it really do the trick… or is he in need of something a little more abstinence and accountability based?

Celebrities are often found caught up in the fast paced high stakes world of drugs and heavy drinking, and too often we hear stories of celebrities who suffer greatly due to their life-style, or die from it. But it doesn’t take an actor’s fame and fortune to get the help you need. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135


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