Athletes Share How Psychedelics Helped Them Overcome Life-Changing Injuries

A recent CNN report has highlighted how several athletes used psychedelics to overcome life-changing injuries and the myriad of mental-health challenges these injuries caused.

Canadian Daniel Carcillo began playing professional ice hockey after graduating high school and broke into the National Hockey League (NHL) by age 20. After a decade-long career that saw him play for the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, Carcillo was a two-time Stanley Cup winner on the cusp of a well-earned retirement.

However, he says, seven diagnosed concussions left him with headaches, anxiety, depression and “dementia-like” symptoms, rendering him suicidal. The retired hockey player says he also suffered from severe insomnia and disrupted sleep, spending nights awake and sleeping during the day.

Carcillo spent more than half a million dollars on prescription treatments and medications at brain centers, concussion centers and stroke rehabilitation centers but did not find any relief. He finally tried psilocybin in what he called a “last-ditch effort” and notes that he felt “the way he should” and had a zest for life for the first time in quite a long time.

A growing body of literature has connected various psychedelics with significant improvements in mental health, especially in patients suffering from conditions that are typically hard to treat. Harvard Health describes psychedelics as a class of drugs that can induce sensory perceptions and altered thoughts.

Some clinical studies have found that psilocybin, the main psychoactive agent in magic mushrooms, can produce significant and long-term changes in people with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder in only one or two doses.

Although most psychedelic research is still in preliminary stages, and researchers still don’t fully understand how psychedelics deliver their benefits, people are increasingly using drugs such as psilocybin (magic mushrooms), LSD and MDMA in place of traditional mental-health treatments.  However, experts say psychedelic use may be associated with potential risks, including heart rate abnormalities, high blood pressure and mental issues, such as psychosis.

NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers is an outspoken supporter of the legalization of certain hallucinogenic drugs. He claims a psychedelic concoction called ayahuasca has helped boost his performance on the field. During last year’s Denver psychedelic conference, Rodgers said it was ironic how substances that could “expand your mind” are illegal, while more harmful substances have been “legal for centuries.”

Former boxing champion Mike Tyson has also spoken in favor of magic mushrooms, claiming they saved his life. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White noted in 2021 that the UFC would dive into researching the impact of psychedelic drug therapy on the brain health of its athletes.

As more companies such as atai Life Sciences N.V. (NASDAQ: ATAI) enter the psychedelic drug-development space, more is likely to be unveiled about how athletes and other groups of patients can benefit from different hallucinogenic compounds.

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