Former California Firefighter Funding Psychedelic Retreats for State Firefighters

A retired firefighter from California is funding psychedelic retreats for firefighters to help address mental disorders they developed while on the job.

Access to psychedelics in the United States is mostly limited to a small number of clinical studies, meaning that the vast majority of people who could benefit from psychedelic-assisted therapy never get the chance to try the treatment. Former Santa Clara County firefighter Angela Graham spent close to two decades as a firefighter, and her on-the-job experiences left her with extreme anxiety, uncontrollable anger and depression.

Although she tried conventional mental-health treatments such as talk therapy, she didn’t get any relief from her symptoms until she tried psychedelic-based treatments. After an acquaintance pointed Graham to a clinic located in Puerta Valla, Mexico, that offered guided psychedelic trips with DMT and psilocybin (magic mushrooms) to alleviate mental-health problems, Graham made the trip south last year to try the treatment.

Graham’s guided psychedelic experiences were so impactful that she cofounded the S.I.R.E.N project with her husband to help other state firefighters receive the treatment that had changed her life. The project funds trips to psychedelic retreats for firefighters in the Bay Area looking for alternative treatments to treat mental health issues. By the end of the year, the S.I.R.E.N project will have sent 15 firefighters, a police officer and a firefighter’s spouse on potentially life-changing psychedelic journeys.

While federal U.S. law classifies psychedelics such as psilocybin and DMT as Schedule I drugs with no medical application, Mexico’s psychedelic policies aren’t as strict. This has allowed the project to send Bay Area first responders to Mexico for psychedelic-assisted therapy; the project has also sent people to a church in Texas that is legally exempted from federal psychedelic policies and is allowed to provide therapeutic psychedelics.

In addition to funding from a secretive tech billionaire whom Graham and her husband wouldn’t name, the couple has also poured their own funds into the S.I.R.E.N project to facilitate the psychedelic retreats. Each trip to a psychedelic resort costs between $2,000 to $5,000.

A recent surge in psychedelic research has revealed that psychedelics may be the key to safely treating several debilitating mental-health disorders and providing patients with long-term relief against their symptoms. This includes conditions such as anxiety, eating disorders,  post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and treatment-resistant depression that often fail to respond to conventional mental health treatments such as talk therapy.

The S.I.R.E.N Project and the work the organization is doing illustrates how important it is for different psychedelic startups such as Compass Pathways PLC (NASDAQ: CMPS) to take their drug-development programs through the clinical trial process so that FDA-approved psychedelic treatments can be locally available for those who need them.

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