What Is Psychedelic Parenting?

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Psychedelic parenting is a concept in which parents use psychedelics to help address mental health struggles with the intent of improving the role they play in their families and to create a positive impact for their children.

Children Are Not Involved

To clarify, parents do not provide psychedelic drugs to their children, nor do they embark on a psychedelic trip with underaged children present.

There’s no sugarcoating it. Parenting isn’t an easy feat. Raising the next generation of humans that will inherit our world comes with an overwhelming responsibility. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented number of challenges for families.

A study looked at the changes in parent stress longitudinally from before to two points in time during COVID-19. It revealed that the common stressors that impacted parenting during COVID-19 were changes in children’s routines, worry about COVID-19, and online schooling demands. The study concluded that parent stress increased substantially during COVID-19 and has not returned to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Some individuals may be motivated to use psychedelics for a number of reasons. These include:

  • Boost focus, energy, creativity, sense of well-being, and concentration
  • Reduce anxiety and depression
  • Improve physical pain such as muscle tension, headache, and menstrual cramps
  • Increase social connectedness
  • Spiritual experiences

With these potential benefits, could the use of psychedelics help improve the lives of struggling parents, which in effect deepen the parent-child relationship and lead to an overall healthier and happier generation? Read on to learn more.

History of Psychedelics

Psychedelic drugs are substances that alter or enhance thought processes, perceptions of sensory input, awareness, and energy levels. They can be smoked, brewed into tea, or eaten. They can be used to facilitate spiritual journeys. 

Indigenous populations have used hallucinogens for healing and spiritual reasons for thousands of years; however, psychedelics are still considered a relatively new treatment in Western medicine. 

In the 1960s, psychedelic drugs were used in psychotherapy; however, due to political reasons, the research and use were deemed illegal in the U.S. In recent decades, psychological researchers received approval to revive clinical trials that study the effect of these substances on mental health conditions. 

Disorders Psychedelics May Treat

Let's take a look at some disorders that psychedelics may treat.

Postpartum Depression

A recent narrative review looked at the safety and pragmatic considerations for using psychedelics in the treatment of postpartum depression and major depressive disorder (MDD). It revealed that psilocybin could facilitate a sense of ‘reconnection’ in those with MDD.

Based on that finding, it suggested that psychedelic-assisted therapy may improve the mother-infant relationship by positively affecting mood and maternal sensitivity towards the infant.

Depression and Anxiety

A randomized, double-blind trial looked at the effect psilocybin had on patients with life-threatening cancer. The clinician and self-reported measurements showed an increase in optimism, quality of life, life meaning, and a decrease in death anxiety. These effects were sustained in over 80% of the participants at their 6-month follow-up.

Alcohol and Substance Use Disorder

A single-group proof-of-concept study looked at the acute effects of psilocybin in alcohol-dependent participants. The results showed that psilocybin-assisted therapy led to reduced drinking, decreased alcohol cravings and increased abstinence self-efficacy.

Characteristics and Examples of Psychedelic Parenting

Psychedelic parenting is based on a foundation of healing, personal development, nurturing love, honesty, spirituality, curiosity, and cultivating a mindful life.

Hallucinogens are used as tools to increase feelings of relaxation, introspection, social connectedness, and empathy.

What Is the Goal of Psychedelic Parenting?

Its intent is to improve a parent’s health and well-being, which in effect will allow them to become better caregivers, creating happier and healthier family dynamics and cultivating a better relationship with their children.

Drawing from the positive effects seen in studies that looked at psychedelics and mental health outcomes, one can imply that if a parent improves their state of mind and health holistically, it is possible that their children will benefit.

For instance, a father who suffers from alcohol dependence is able to maintain abstinence through psilocybin-assisted therapy. He can be a more engaged parent and more actively involved in his children’s lives. His children grow up with a father who is present and loving.

Or a mother who struggles with anxiety and depression is able to improve her mood through microdosing. She can feel calmer, more productive, and more organized during the day while caring for her children. Her children are able to experience more of their mother’s better days than her difficult ones.

Or a parent who is challenged with a history of an abusive father. They do not want to inflict their past onto their children. Through psychedelic-assisted therapy, they are able to process their childhood trauma and view their father from a place of compassion and empathy. They gain better control of their parenting role as they feel they are able to break generational cycles.

However, more research needs to be conducted on the long-term outcomes psychedelic parenting has on childrearing and the lives of children to fully assess its effect.

Potential Risks

Psychedelics are not deemed to be addictive; however, there are potential risks and negative effects associated with psychedelic use. Psychological reactions such as anxiety, panic, and paranoia can occur.

Bad Trips

There is the risk of experiencing a ‘bad trip,’ which includes an intense fear of losing control and strong feelings of anxiety. Psychedelics can also have the potential to alter personality. 

It is crucial to never self-treat without the guidance of a professional or practitioner. They can cause dangerous drug interactions.

Lastly, given the unpredictability of an individual’s psychedelic session, children should not be present to ensure their safety and well-being. 

Legality

In the U.S., psychedelics are classified as controlled substances, and the government regulates their use. Recently, some cities and counties have begun decriminalization; however, they are still illegal under federal law.

A legal option for trying psychedelic therapy is participating in a research trial. The National Institute of Health (NIH) publishes a database of privately and publicly funded clinical studies conducted worldwide. You can search for psychedelic studies and sign up.

Psychedelic parenting may seem like a radical approach to childrearing. However, there are potential benefits as it pertains to the treatment of certain mental health conditions. More research needs to assess how this form of parenting affects the lives of children and whether there are any long-term benefits and risks.

6 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Tupper KW, Wood E, Yensen R, Johnson MW. Psychedelic medicine: A re-emerging therapeutic paradigm. CMAJ. 2015;187(14):1054–1059. doi:10.1503/cmaj.141124

  4. Jairaj C, Rucker JJ. Postpartum depression: A role for psychedelics? J Psychopharmacol. 2022;36(8):920–931.

  5. Griffiths RR, Johnson MW, Carducci MA, et al. Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial. J Psychopharmacol. 2016;30(12):1181–1197. doi:10.1177/0269881116675513

  6. Bogenschutz MP, Forcehimes AA, Pommy JA, Wilcox CE, Barbosa PC, Strassman RJ. Psilocybin-assisted treatment for alcohol dependence: A proof-of-concept study. J Psychopharmacol. 2015 Mar;29(3):289–99. doi:10.1177/0269881114565144

By Katharine Chan, MSc, BSc, PMP
Katharine is the author of three books (How To Deal With Asian Parents, A Brutally Honest Dating Guide and A Straight Up Guide to a Happy and Healthy Marriage) and the creator of 60 Feelings To Feel: A Journal To Identify Your Emotions. She has over 15 years of experience working in British Columbia's healthcare system.