The former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson has said that psychedelic drugs saved his life.
The boxing superstar was once one of the world’s most fearsome fighters however he also struggled throughout his life with mental health issues that he says brought him to the brink of suicide.
Tyson recently made the announcement that taking ‘magic mushrooms’ and other psychedelic drugs completely changed his worldview for the better. Now, Tyson is experiencing something of a career renaissance which he attributes to his use of magic mushrooms and spiritual exploration.
The Brooklyn boxer is not alone in his support of the drugs. For the past few years, researchers and scientists across the world have been claiming that banned hallucinogens may have revolutionary potential for mental health treatment.
Mike Tyson’s Trip
“Everyone thought I was crazy, I bit this guy’s ear off,” an upbeat Tyson told Reuters, referring to his infamous 1997 fight against Evander Holyfield.
“I did all this stuff, and once I got introduced to the shrooms … my whole life changed.”
Tyson, who turns 55 next month, and recently fought an impressive bout in November 2020 against Roy Jones Jr, said he has never felt better.
“It’s scary to even say that,” said Tyson, who is also a cannabis entrepreneur and podcast host.
“To think where I was — almost suicidal — to this now. Isn’t life a trip, man? It’s amazing medicine, and people don’t look at it from that perspective.”
Boxers and other contact sport athletes typically have high levels of traumatic brain injuries which can lead to mental health issues. Psychedelics have long been a focus of research for organisations looking to repair and address some of those issues sustained through contact sport and other high-impact activities.
The World Boxing Council recently announced an unlikely partnership with Wesana Health, a Chicago-based biotech company that developing psychedelic medicine for the treatment of repetitive traumatic brain injury.
Wesana has capitalised on Tyson’s own experiences and beliefs by recruiting him as an advisor on their board.
Speaking with The Guardian, Tyson said “I believe if I’d been introduced to the benefit of psychedelics for therapeutic use early in my professional career, I would have been a lot more stable in life”.
“I had a lot of public outbursts and they were all mental illness related. Prescription drugs meant I didn’t feel like myself but with psychedelics, I feel I’m a happier, lighter version of me”.
Magic Mushroom Therapy
While the treatment’s and therapies using psychedelics may be years away from public consumption — these are, after all, experimental therapies using illegal drugs with limited evidence for their efficacy — Australian scientists and psychologists are laying the groundwork for eventual access.
The Australian Government recently announced a $15 million investment in psychedelic research and clinical trials. With funding available, psychologists and psychiatrists are signing up in droves to be part of the new research.
The advocacy group Mind Medicine Australia has recently graduated its first cohort of doctors and psychologists trained in their own bespoke programme for the delivery of psychedelic therapy.
With little in the way of treatment options for common mental health issues like depression and anxiety outside of therapy and pharmaceuticals, this new wave of psychedelic research offers hope for those with treatment-resistant and complex conditions.
A recent study from Imperial College London found that psychedelics may be far more effective at treating depression than leading anti-depressant drugs.
Already, Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital is conducting trials using psilocybin — the active component in magic mushrooms — to treat anxiety caused by end-stage terminal illnesses.
There’s currently no confirmed timeline for when psychedelic psychotherapy will become a reality in Australia. But, with continuing investment and interest from groups as disparate as the World Boxing Council, Imperial College, and the Australian Government, it’s clear that a groundswell of support is growing.