Psychedelic Optimist: A Newsletter from Mindbloom CEO Dylan Beynon

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Published on 
May 21, 2024
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The following is the first release of the Psychedelic Optimist — a new publication from Mindbloom's CEO Dylan Beynon.

You can follow the story on LinkedIn or Substack to see new releases first.

Ketamine Therapy Saved my Dad from Suicide

My Family’s Struggle with Mental Illness and Addiction

In August 2021, my mom was found dead in an alley from a fentanyl overdose. But I lost her a long, long time ago.

As far back as I can remember, my mom was consumed by severe mental illness and addiction.

We tried everything: countless medications, therapy, multiple rehabilitation facilities, and even eastern medicines. Nothing worked.

We were a working-class family in Anaheim, not-so-affectionately called Anacrime (see iron bars on the windows of our cozy condo). The local addicts that my mom befriended and often brought into our home created an environment of violence, chaos, and fear. Her illness was a tragedy for her and a tragedy for our family. My half-sister and I lived in a constant state of hyper vigilance and fear.

By age 12, I stopped speaking to my mom and tried to avoid her completely, often staying with friends until I knew my dad would be home.

By age 16, it became so dangerous that we had no choice but to evict her from our home. I had to get a restraining order against my own mom.

Soon after, she spent the rest of her life homeless. I never saw her alive again.

Losing my mom could have been the end for me, too. I never met my biological father, and most kids in my position ended up in foster care, or worse. But I won the lottery. My stepfather, a mailman and bus driver, adopted me and did his best to build a house full of love under impossible conditions. Our lives weren’t the easiest, but his generosity, devotion, and affection gave us a chance.

6 year old me with my mom and sister, 1994

The Power of Psychedelic Medicine

Too many Americans are needlessly dying like my mom did.

The mental health crisis is only getting worse: nearly one in four adults experience mental illness every year, and 2023 saw record numbers of deaths from suicide and drug overdose. Our system is ill-equipped to end this epidemic: over 160 million Americans live in mental health provider shortage areas, and less than half of adults with mental illness receive treatment.

But lack of access isn’t the whole story. The terrifying truth is that even those fortunate enough to receive treatment, like my mom, usually don’t get better. Response rates for depression treatments like SSRIs and psychotherapy are below 50%, and four in five patients relapse within five years. People are shuffled through the system until they run out of options and it spits them out.

Fortunately, we now have better tools. Psychedelic medicine is the most promising treatment in over 50 years, and can help people suffering from depression, addiction, PTSD, and other mental health issues in ways that other treatments often cannot. Decades of research show that these medicines work — but they haven’t been available to most Americans.

Today, ketamine is the only psychedelic medicine that is legal to prescribe in the U.S. Ketamine has been shown in over 100 studies to be an effective, safe, and fast-acting treatment for depression and other conditions, leading many to call it the “biggest breakthrough in the field of depression in over 60 years.”

The number of providers offering ketamine therapy has grown significantly over the past few years – and the outcomes data speak for themselves. In 2022, the Journal of Affective Disorders published the largest-ever peer-reviewed study of ketamine therapy, with real-world outcomes data from over 1,200 Mindbloom clients. The study showed that after only four treatment sessions:

  • 89% of clients experienced reductions in symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • 63% experienced clinically-significant reductions in symptoms
  • 30% achieved remission
  • Remarkably, ketamine therapy also eliminated suicidal thoughts for nearly two-thirds of people who were experiencing them prior to treatment.

And this is just the beginning. Thanks to decades of work by MAPS and other organizations, the FDA will soon approve MDMA for PTSD and psilocybin for depression. Clinical trials have shown that psychedelic medicines are extremely effective for a number of mental health conditions, and for patient populations like veterans who have long suffered from insufficient treatment options. Still, there’s a lot of work to be done to make psychedelics accessible and affordable for people in need.

How Ketamine Therapy Transformed My Dad's Life

I’ve seen firsthand how psychedelic medicine can be the difference between life and death. One year after my mom overdosed, my sister died the exact same way — just three weeks after she was discharged from inpatient rehab. I had tried and failed to get her into treatment with ketamine or other psychedelics, and it hurt to know she never got to try medicines that could have saved her.

After losing my mom and sister, my dad, my hero, sunk into a depression so deep that I was confident he wouldn’t make it out.

He didn’t leave home or bathe for nearly a month.

He texted me a list of all his accounts and passwords “just in case something happens to me.”

He texted me not to throw everything away in the condo when he’s gone because he has silver hidden inside it.

He refused to let me come see him or accept any help from me.

He texted me “you know I love you and anything that happens to me isn’t your fault, right?”

It was clear that he was preparing to end his life.

I couldn’t let history repeat itself and lose another family member. My dad had resisted ketamine therapy for years, scared by the same stigma that prevents so many people from getting the help they need. Fortunately, rock bottom was the catalyst I needed to convince him to try at-home ketamine therapy through Mindbloom.

Working directly with Mindbloom’s Medical Director and my friend, Dr. Leonardo Vando, to whom I will be forever grateful, my dad invested in his healing. The results were incredible.

He worked through his grief and found his will to keep going.

He started exercising regularly for the first time in his life and lost 50 pounds.

He reintegrated into his friend group and built his support network back up.

He became open to finding a partner for the third act of his life, got engaged, and became a father to three new stepchildren. I’m officiating the wedding this summer.

He reached a place of happiness, vitality, and optimism I never in a million years thought I’d see him have again.

Psychedelic medicine saved my dad’s life, and it can help the millions of Americans who are still suffering. The tools we need to fix the mental health epidemic are right in front of us — let’s make sure we can use them.

Me and my dad at the Super Bowl, 2024

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. If you are in a life-threatening situation, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at +1 (800) 273-8255, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.

Important FDA Safety Information

Ketamine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of depression or anxiety. Learn more about off-label uses here.

Side effects of ketamine treatment may include: altered sense of time, anxiety, blurred vision, diminished ability to see/hear/feel, dry mouth, elevated blood pressure or heart rate, elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure, excitability, loss of appetite, mental confusion, nausea/vomiting, nystagmus (rapid eye movements), restlessness, slurred speech, synesthesia (a mingling of the senses).

Do not proceed with ketamine treatment if any of the following apply to you:

  • Allergic to ketamine
  • Symptoms of psychosis or mania
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • CHF or other serious heart problem
  • Severe breathing problem
  • History of elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure
  • History of hyperthyroidism
  • Other serious medical illness
  • Pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant

Ketamine has been reported to produce issues including, but not limited to, those listed below. However, lasting adverse side-effects are rare when medical protocols are carefully followed.

While ketamine has not been shown to be physically addictive, it has been shown to cause moderate psychological dependency in some recreational users.

  • In rare cases, frequent, heavy users have reported increased frequency of urination, urinary incontinence, pain urinating, passing blood in the urine, or reduced bladder size
  • Ketamine may worsen problems in people with schizophrenia, severe personality disorders, or other serious mental disorders.
  • Users with a personal or family history of psychosis should be cautious using any psychoactive substance, including ketamine, and discuss potential risks with your MindBloom® clinician before proceeding with treatment.
  • The dissociative effects of ketamine may increase patient vulnerability and the risk of accidents.

To promote positive outcomes and ensure safety, follow these ketamine treatment guidelines:

  • Do not operate a vehicle (e.g., car, motorcycle, bicycle) or heavy machinery following treatment until you’ve had a full night of sleep
  • Refrain from taking benzodiazepines or stimulants for 24 hours prior to treatment
  • Continue to take antihypertensive medication as prescribed
  • Avoid hangovers or alcohol intake
  • Refrain from consuming solid foods within 3 hours prior to treatment and liquids within 1 hour prior to treatment
  • Ketamine treatment should never be conducted without a monitor present to ensure your safety

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