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Micro dosing & psychedelic therapy for evolving your relationships with Jim Kragtwyk

 

From Silicone Valley tech bros to stressed out single moms, many people are proclaiming the therapeutic virtues of micro dosing for enhancing creativity and mental health. Micro dosing involves the consumption of a sub perceptual, fractional quantity of psilocybin or LSD, typically 1/5th to 1/20th of a recreational dose. Once vilified, interest in psychedelics and psychedelic therapy has exploded in recent years leading to a number of high profile FDA approved drug trials for treatment resistant depression, anxiety and addictions.

In a time when an epidemic of loneliness and despair is spreading like wildfire could micro dosing help nudge our perceptual reality towards a more hopeful future and richer relationships? In this episode of Awake In Relationship I speak with returning guest Jim Kragtwyk, a registered clinical counsellor and educator who specializes in psychedelic integration work. In this discussion we talk about the current research and possible psycho-social and emotional benefits of micro dosing for overcoming self imposed barriers to deeper creativity, growth and relationships.

Show Notes

  • To learn more about Jim’s counselling work go to www.medicinemoves.ca
  • To learn more about psychedelic therapy check out the Michael Pollan’s ground breaking book How To Change Your Mind  or watch the documentary series by the same name on Netflix
  • Ketamine Assisted Therapy trials on Vancouver Island with frontline health care workers at Roots to Throve 
  • FSA approved drug trials for psilocybin and major depressive disorders

 

Episode Transcripts

 

[00:00:00] Silas Rose: My name is Silas Rose, and you’re tuned in to another episode of Awake in Relationship. I don’t know about you, but it seems like everyone, from stressed out single moms, to the tech bros in Silicon Valley, are all singing the praise of microdosing. for enhanced creativity, productivity, and well being.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, microdosing involves ingesting sub perceptual or fractional quantities of typically LSD or psilocybin. Usually the dosage is one fifth to one twentieth of a recreational dose. Once vilified, interest in psychedelics, and particularly psychedelic therapy, has really exploded in recent years. Possibly in response to a surge in intractable mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and addictions. We all know someone who’s struggling with something. Maybe psychedelic assisted therapy can help us nudge our perceptual reality towards a more hopeful future. The FDA certainly thinks so.

There are a number of high profile clinical trials happening right now, particularly with MDMA and psilocybin, that promise to make this powerful medicine more widely available. Psychedelics gave birth to the countercultural movement of the 1960s, which was really a period of tremendous creativity and hope.

I think our society could use a dose of that right now. Which is why I invited back to the show my friend Jim Kragtkwyk, a clinical counselor and educator focused on psychedelic integration. In this conversation, we’re going to talk about the current research. and the psychosocial and emotional benefits of microdosing and psychedelic therapy.

Going into this conversation, I was particularly interested in how microdosing might help with lowering the self imposed barriers to greater creativity, growth, and connection, while I personally feel there’s tremendous potential for this medicine for many conditions. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also say that this conversation is offered for information purposes only and not intended to diagnose or offer a treatment plan for anyone. If you’re struggling right now, please reach out for help from friends, family, in particular a trusted and trained professional.

Jim, welcome back to Awake In Relationship

[00:02:48] Jim Kragtwyk: thank you very much, Silas. Good to be here. Yeah,

[00:02:51] Silas Rose: it’s been a while since our last conversation. So it might be helpful for the new listeners, if you could maybe just introduce yourself and talk a little bit about what you do.

[00:03:03] Jim Kragtwyk: I do a lot of different things. I’ve been a professional helper for about 40 years now.

And I started off at a very young, even maybe too young age as a youth counselor, working with young offenders. Silas. And throughout that journey, I’ve you know, done so many different trainings and different sort of therapeutic modalities. I’ve worked in addictions and forensics, correctional facilities, psychiatric hospitals, outpatient clinics run two residential addictions treatment programs.

But the last 15 years or so mostly been just, you know my private practice in Victoria. I also do a lot of organizational work. Health and wellness trainings on things like mental health and resiliency and a whole slew of different topics and let’s do a lot of workplace interventions.

Things like harassment investigations, mediating conflict, sensitivity trainings, team and leadership coaching. So and then that brought me to you know, my work in psychedelic assisted therapy integration. And that’s been, you know, probably the last four years now, I guess. Yeah, it’s coming up on four years, where I’ve been fairly immersed in that work, above and beyond all the other things that I do.

So yeah, a little bit about my professional background.

[00:04:14] Silas Rose: Well, what got you interested in psychedelics?

[00:04:17] Jim Kragtwyk: Well, you know, when I was younger You know, I started self medicating with a variety of different substances, and I didn’t know that’s what I was doing at the time. It just seemed pretty normal in my family and in the culture of the 70s.

Certainly where I lived in Quebec unfortunately, I remember you know, being a grade 7 or 8 Being able to go to the local depanuris, little corner stores, eight in the morning and buy a pack of smokes and a couple of quarts of a beer and then skip school. So, I had a problematic use with substances in the early part of my life.

And in the latter sort of stages, and probably going back like 15 years now sort of re engaged with psychedelics, particularly, and more so in a very intentional and sacred way. And those connections of working with different teachers and different medicine groups you know, got me an invitation to do some psychedelic assisted therapy training.

And even then, I wasn’t really thinking I would get involved in the work at all. I was just really curious about it looking for any, any opportunity to do some fun trainings that have an experiential component to it. And also, you know, sort of delves a little off course, but, you know, I, I really learned that when things sort of like.

Come to me right in my face as invitations to not ignore them. And this was one of those things the training was Came there’s one spot left in the training The week that we were doing the experiential piece was the one week I had in my calendar that weirdly was really open during the busy time of my year So I took that as a sign from God That I was meant to step into this training little Blues Brothers reference there and And it was a wonderful experience, and that whole experience of meeting some really wonderful people, it really encouraged me to step into the work, whereas before I was just wanting to have that experience, and so I’ve been doing that work for about four years now.

[00:06:05] Silas Rose: And so what do you mean by integration, work? What does that mean?

[00:06:09] Jim Kragtwyk: Well, when people have intentional psychedelic assisted therapies sessions, or journey days, or treatment days, you can call them those can be very powerful and profound experiences. But, you know, in the research, and certainly in my own personal experience is sustainable change for whatever the people are looking for is really in doing the integration sessions.

After the sort of the plant medicine ceremony or after an individual session with a therapist. I use the sort of analogy of the metaphor that, you know, the psychedelic gives you a new doorway of opportunity to see, feel, experience things in a different way to see new possibility of patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

And so all those old patterns sort of get out of the way and gives you this opportunity to sort of walk through the doorway, but if you just open the door and don’t do the integration work, then that door closes and more neurochemical level or behavioral level, we go back to homeostasis, we go back to our usual way.

We had this wonderful peak experience. Oh, my gosh, it’s wonderful. And then it fades. And then we think, Oh, I need to do another journey. And so some people think the medicine is the actual pathway, but in fact, it’s actually the integration. That’s where you want to focus on. How do people take these maybe big illuminations, intensely beautiful, powerful, transformative, emotional experiences.

And how do we now bring that back into my marriage, my relationship, my job, my day to day how do I make those incremental changes? So I don’t impulsively blow up my past, you know, leaping onto something without a net and then finding myself. Oh, my gosh, they really shouldn’t have done that. So how do we do it in a sustainable way?

[00:07:54] Silas Rose: So it’s essentially kind of the difference between a recreational experience and a therapeutic one.

[00:07:59] Jim Kragtwyk: I would say so and for me, it’s all around intention, right? You know, I don’t have any judgment on people using things recreationally and certainly don’t have any judgment on people People self medicating with certain substances, and they usually don’t self medicate with psychedelics.

Usually it’s other, more harmful substances, but again, that’s always an indication that, you know, an individual’s neurochemistry is not balanced. And on some level, they’re stumbling upon substances or behaviors that, you know, give them a little temporary respite. From the pain, from the anxiety, a little boost of pleasure, energy from the depression.

So people can get, go down that path of self medication, which can then turn into, you know, addictions or compulsive behaviors, which are hugely problematic. So, always aware of the positive intention of the medicines, but we have to use them in the right way to get the sustainable results we want. It really seems

[00:08:49] Silas Rose: Psychedelics have gone mainstream. It’s a pretty radical turnaround from where we were, particularly in the 1990s, you know, the war on drugs. What do you think has precipitated this?

[00:08:59] Jim Kragtwyk: Yeah, well, I think, you know, this is very I don’t even want to use the word naive. I mean, that whole narrative is completely made up and it’s just the, the quick fix short term, just say no. It’s, it’s, it’s a very simplistic way of, of, of engaging in a problem. And, you know, when you read up a lot on the history of this, like, a lot of this was political, a lot of this was racial, a lot of this was economics of why the war on drugs was actually put in place, because all the research exceptions noted, there’s always going to be, you know, some bad experience that someone’s going to happen, and certainly that happens with pharmaceuticals as well, right?

When you look at the numbers of actual deaths that people experience by the appropriate use of pharmaceuticals, you might be ridiculously shocked at that number. And then, you know, if someone has a, bad trip on some LSD or whatever else. It’s like, Oh no, we have to like stop all these, all these substances from, you know, affecting our youth.

So basically I think that people realize that this war on drugs was not actually working. In fact, making things worse and that, you know, the, the researchers and, you know, what we’d like to call the psychonauts from, you know, the fifties, sixties and seventies. They were still operating, they were operating underground, they were still practicing, they were still doing, you know, some level of research, you know, and so it re emerged, you know which was sort of lovely to see that that’s happened.

[00:10:20] Silas Rose: How has the legal terrain changed?

[00:10:21] Jim Kragtwyk: I mean, they’ve, you know, certainly in Canada and in the US, you know, they’ve allowed clinical studies on things like psilocybin and MDMA you know, with a narrow focus typically on dealing with sort of end of life anxiety or complex or treatment resistant PTSD.

I know in the province of British Columbia, certain substances have been decriminalized with certain amounts. You can sort of see now in B. C. that, you know, the, the mushroom shops or the other psychedelic shops are popping up. There’s all kinds of things online where people can access these medicines.

So yeah, I’m seeing it mushrooming, no pun intended there. But at the same time People were very hopeful back, back in the day, and, you know, all it can take is one shift of politics for the plug to be pulled on that. I don’t know if this is an organic emergence that’s going to keep taking over mainstream culture.

That’s what we thought was happening in the 60s and powers that be came in and really stomped on that. So I hope that as things emerge, that we’re going to do it at a much more slow, gradual pace so that people won’t get too I used the clinical word, freaked out, won’t get too freaked out about this, because there’s still a lot of judgment and stigma and distortion and myths about, you know, on psychedelics.

So I really hope that, you know, people are going to be doing this slowly, that there’s going to be a lot of evidence base around the benefits of this, that we’re going to get all the key stakeholders, you know, the medical system politicians you know, general public on board. So this will just be a fairly normalized standard of treatment, hopefully, someday.

[00:11:55] Silas Rose: Yeah, well, it really seems like there’s a world of need at this point. I think you know, there’s definitely a mental health crisis on our streets that’s not being addressed. What kind of inspired this, this conversation, or me wanting to reach out for this conversation to talk about microdosing because it really feels like, from the billionaire tech bros to the, the single moms, that many people are kind of taking this as kind of a new approach to mental health and well being.

So for basic definition, what is microdosing?

[00:12:29] Jim Kragtwyk: Basically is taking a dose at a level that you are not consciously aware of any sort of you know, psychological, emotional or physiological experience that is very, very subtle or can be very subtle. So typically, you know, we’re, you know, looking at different models of micro dosing, whether it’s on psilocybin or LSD, you know, we’re basically looking at anywhere from, you know, you know, one 10th of the standard dose to maybe two 10ths.

And so for psilocybin, you know, that would typically be, you know, 100 to 200 milligrams, and I think the most common protocol is, you know, doing that every third day. And then for LSD, it could be you know, either 100, maybe 200 micrograms. I have, you know, this morning, I was actually looking at some studies where they were giving people 500 milligrams of psilocybin, which for me is more than a microdose, like you’re going to consciously feel that experience.

And so you know, so then we have to go into, well, how are we going to collectively define microdose, but generally speaking, it’s, it’s on a sort of subconscious level that the medicine’s doing its work. Now there’s a nuance or complexity there. Like, so I’m going to put another context. So if you know anything about homeopathic remedies, right, you’re giving a very, very tiny doses of something to sort of stimulate a response in your nervous system.

So in many ways, it’s similar to that. Now, In terms of homeopathic doses, I know some people, and I was probably one of them, and maybe still am, it’s just like, take a little bit of this, and it’s like, man, nothing’s going on, I don’t feel anything, this is ridiculous, this is a bunch of woo woo stuff, bunch of hippies, whatever, like all the judgments come out.

But with the microdosing, and I would say even with homeopathic medicine, it really is, it’s about relationships. So if I have with sort of the allopathic medicine mindset is no, I’m passive, I’m going to be treated, someone’s going to do something to me and magically I’m going to get fixed up somehow.

Well, with the microdosing, really, it’s about your relationship with the medicine. And if you want it to work, and, you know, this has certainly been my experience with clients and also personal use. Like if I’m not actually paying attention, if I’m not like dropping in and listening to the subtleties of what’s going on in my physiological, emotional, psychological arousal, right?

If I’m just like, I’m going to take this capsule and get on with my day, but I’m not actually like, you know, going in and meeting the medicine, noticing sensations, noticing subtle shifts. So for me, the medicine of microdosing is actually the paying attention and the relating to the medicine consciously.

[00:14:57] Silas Rose: Hmm. Yeah, how does that different to say a macro dose or what is the effect over the long term?

[00:15:04] Jim Kragtwyk: So what is the effect of the micro dosing over the long term

[00:15:07] Silas Rose: compared to say macro

[00:15:08] Jim Kragtwyk: Well, most people can’t sustain, you know, macro dosing every third day. Right. If you got a job, you know, you can, I don’t know.

Right. So the micro dosing is something that, you know, you could do a micro dose and still go to work ethically, legally not, not impaired in any way. But you might notice these subtle sort of changes and so when you start orienting to the medicine, then I keep using this word relationship, like I’m staying focused with it.

I am learning how to be in my body. I’m noticing, oh, there’s just a little bit of an uptick in my energy today. Or, you know, I didn’t get so angry today. And then we start to see and then that creates hope and then they create hopes, creates more consciousness to really relate with the medicine, right?

[00:15:52] Silas Rose: So, are there any kind of contraindications you know, if you’re mixing with other things?

[00:15:58] Jim Kragtwyk: Not at that level. Not at that small amount.

[00:16:01] Silas Rose: There’s a lot of hype around the benefits of microdosing and you mentioned depression. You know, depression is the leading cause of disability in the world at this point. What does the research have to say around that? Microdosing for depression?

[00:16:16] Jim Kragtwyk: Specifically, and so particularly people have depression and I’ve certainly experienced this in my lifetime and in significant levels like. Big piece of that is you don’t have energy, you don’t have a lot of hope, you sort of have a negative sort of cynical outlook on things, like it’s just not going to get better, like, and so it’s really hard to sort of create some momentum from that place of feeling really stuck and no energy and no positivity, right?

So the microdose can just like be that little fire. That little spark that gets the flame going and then we can start tending that flame with, okay, now I’m going to start to actually connect with some more people. I feel like I’ve got the energy or, or maybe I’m going to do a little bit more, you know, looking at my journaling and my thinking processes that keep me stuck in this depressive loop.

And so again, it can just shift us from being stuck into a place of movement.

[00:17:08] Silas Rose: I’ve noticed that myself in the sense that it’s interesting, like I’m, I’m an infrequent flyer as it were when it comes to micro noticing but when I do do it I actually notice the bump the next day, which is interesting. I’m not too sure why, but the main benefit for me is actually in creativity. I guess there’s something about, about it that gets me into kind of a flow state.

[00:17:30] Jim Kragtwyk: Well, you know, when it shifts your perspective from cynicism, hopelessness into creativity, I mean, I mean, we’re definitely in a different software package here. It’s very difficult to actually think creatively, looking at the world or myself in a cynical, hopeless kind of way.

I mean, it’s just not available, right? So immediately when we shift our perceptions of how I see myself and myself in the world, then that when creativity and with creativity comes different ways of being hopeful about what I can do. And as you’re suggesting that when I’m in those creative states, I get into that flow state.

And for me, the flow state is. I’m purely in the present moment. I am not thinking much, if at all, about the past, nor about the future. You know, like, pure, like, for me, like, my most common flow moments are when I’m in nature, and when I’m training martial arts, particularly doing partner exercises, like, All those years of training and programming, thinking, they all come out in the moment, and I’m just going along for the ride.

It’s like, you know, something’s possessing me, so to speak. And it’s quite a beautiful thing. And I know people can have that with music. They can have it with meditative states, they can skiing, golfing, like whatever it is. Hmm. But for me, that that clear essence is in the present moment, you’re going along with it.

You’re not creating it, intending it. Like you just find yourself in that state and you ride those waves.

[00:19:00] Silas Rose: Yeah, I think a part of that is just this kind of lessening of fear and you mentioned this a bit earlier talking about connection And be interesting to kind of drill down into that a little bit more Is micro dosing used within say couples therapy or as a tool for accessing deeper intimacy?

[00:19:19] Jim Kragtwyk: Absolutely you know, sometimes when I when I’m talking with clients who are thinking about doing a journey And then they’re, you know, looking to me to support them with the integration piece I’ll encourage them to consider try microdosing first. You may find you don’t need to have a big therapeutic treatment day or journey. That, that’s just my tip to scales for both of you in addition to, you know, you’re going to do some couples counseling or go on a retreat or whatever else. So in terms of the relationship, you know, when people have maybe done enough work, Maybe they’ve stretched out and slowed enough of their trauma triggers so that they can actually stay in the pocket of responsivity in their relationship.

The psychedelics on the microdose level can help them maintain that bandwidth. Because oftentimes, you know you, when people come for counseling, they don’t usually come in just for like, oh, you want to, you know, do a preventative sort of check in like we do with our car. Most people are coming with big problems or crises.

Okay. And so you want to help them stretch out their trauma triggers because that’s usually what’s it, what’s going on for people. Someone’s inadvertently doing or saying something that pushes someone’s trauma trigger button, they become more reactive, that triggers this person’s, and then all of a sudden, Okay.

We can’t actually resolve anything because they’re living in the past with all these trauma inundations in the present moment. And so this gives the people capacity to stay in that zone of responsivity while they’re working out their trauma as a couple. Now I used to I used to rebel at the notion that a lot of my more seasoned therapists and colleagues would say, because I was young and cocky and thought I always knew better, but they always said, you know, healing has to come in relationship.

And I was always thinking, no, you got to go do your own work first, and you got to, you know, take care of this and not jump into some relationship and try and figure it out. And it’s just because I wasn’t understanding it. Absolutely, you know, it’s great for me to work on my own trauma and to create more capacity.

But ultimately, the proof of the pudding is when you’re in a relationship, you’re going to get triggered. And so, can you actually deal with your triggers and be responsive enough to stay in relationship and heal, right? So, the proof really is, you know, can you actually integrate this when you’re in relationship, not just clean up all your relationship stuff and stay out of one.

So, all that to say the microdosing can support people to have that ability to be more responsivity, to be creative in their ways of thinking about the relationship, creative strategies, playfulness all those wonderful things

[00:21:44] Silas Rose: MDMA seems to mean the kind of relational psychedelic, though I guess technically it’s not considered psychedelic, yeah?

[00:21:52] Jim Kragtwyk: It does fall under the cluster you know, and certainly at strong doses you can get your typical sort of psychedelic effects, but it’s also known more as a sort of entheogen or empathogen, right? Yeah, there’s a bigger part of opening medicine, which really helps. With the relational piece it sort of softens our defense structures, our emotional armor, our, you know, big triggers and, you know, can give you these beautiful, warm sensations of love and connection and openness and feeling safe.

But when we open that heart, it could also release a lot of unprocessed grief. So, you know, when we work with people, they’ve had these beautiful, amazing, lovely. Pleasurable experiences, and some have used it to actually process some old grief.

[00:22:36] Silas Rose: So much is changing in this field of psychedelic therapy. Where do you see things going in the next five years, and, what role do you think you’ll be playing then?

[00:22:46] Jim Kragtwyk: Oh, I think AI is going to take over everything.

[00:22:48] Silas Rose: That is another episode.

[00:22:51] Jim Kragtwyk: Yeah, well, you know, I’m sort of joking and I’m sort of not. So I was I was contacted, this is about three weeks ago, by a startup company based in BC and not sure how they tracked me down, but they wanted to know if I’d be interested in being part of their, their team, being a clinician to facilitate the psychedelic assisted therapy sessions and So their model was that all the, you know, the formal protocol, the full on intake set and setting sorry, preparation set, session set and setting, all the integration stuff the, the, the therapist like myself would, would do that work virtually and that the client would do the psychedelics on their own with a sitter of their choice.

So I prepare them, they would go and do this just with a sitter, it could be a friend, it could be whomever, and then I would do the integration after that. So, I told him, I said, I’m not sure, I gotta, I gotta sit with that for a bit I think a lot would depend on the sitter, and you know, even in, in the sort of appropriate protocols, there should be two therapists, two co therapists in the room on journey day.

These are people who are trained. And so if you’re just having a friend or a sitter and there’s only one, there’s just some risks involved around that. So that’s where I see a bit of a trend happening. Certainly the medicalization of the psychedelics is already happening. You know, with you know, ketamine, like there’s Roots to Thrive here on the island.

There’s also another clinic that’s going to be opening up shortly in Victoria. I forget the name of it, Sammy or something like that. So it’s happening. Will it take the heart and the spirit and the soul out of this work? You know, this is one of the things that so the more, more traditional or underground therapists have thought is like, it’s taking the sacred.

out of it if we medicalize it and make it institutionalized. And yet the other hand is it’ll make it more accessible to people if it is medicalized. So we have to balance these these things, right?

[00:24:49] Silas Rose: Is there a resource, a book or a documentary or something you think people would find inspiring so they can keep the learning going?

[00:24:55] Jim Kragtwyk: Well, I mean, the two biggest ones that are sort of out there are mainstream. I mean, there’s a lot, but you know Fantastic Fungi I think is just a beautiful film. And it’s not just on the psychedelic element of fungus, you know, full spectrum, but it’s also, it’s just a beautiful film with lots of great visuals and just a magical thing to watch.

And then Michael Pollan’s, you know, How to Change Your Mind, obviously, that four, four part series, I think, still on Netflix.

[00:25:19] Silas Rose: And how can people get in touch with you?

[00:25:22] Jim Kragtwyk: I’m very Google able.

[00:25:24] Silas Rose: Excellent. Well, thanks again for the conversation, Jim.

[00:25:27] Jim Kragtwyk: All right. Thank you, Silas, for inviting me. Have a great day.

 

 

 

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