Mushrooms - P. cubensis
Citation: FrogManWhiskers. "How I Quit Smoking Using Magic Mushrooms: An Experience with Mushrooms - P. cubensis (exp114650)". Erowid.org. Aug 13, 2020. erowid.org/exp/114650
How I Quit Smoking Using Magic Mushrooms
On the summer solstice, June 20th, 2020, I took a large dose of magic mushrooms, an intentional action made with the goal of helping me quit smoking cigarettes forever. I had heard and read stories about the amazing ability psilocybin possesses to help people break addictions and habitual behaviors (see Paul Stamets’ account of overcoming his stuttering habit), and the world-renowned Johns Hopkins University has published multiple studies on the effects of psilocybin, citing an 80% success rate in helping smokers quit smoking for 6 months or more (compared to 35% for the second-most successful therapy). I scoured the internet for the protocols used to treat the study participants, or even just an outline of the therapy they underwent, but everything I found tended to be a very surface-level version of “participants underwent a period of cognitive behavioral therapy, one-on-one with a trained therapist for several days or weeks before and after the experience,” with no real detail into how the therapy was used to shape the experience. So, while I am not a doctor of any kind, nor a trained therapist or shaman or even particularly experienced in the psychedelic realms, I thought that I should share my method for using psilocybin-containing mushrooms to quit smoking, in hopes that it will help other folks looking to take that path for themselves.
The first time I took a large dose of mushrooms (5 dried grams), I spent the majority of the trip absolutely sobbing, processing years of grief centered on relationships that had either failed or soured over time, as well as deaths of loved ones (both past and future). This was a difficult experience, but at no point did I feel like it was a “bad trip.” It was a healthy, necessary experience that has helped me grow, and I was grateful for it at every point.
So, without further prelude, here is the step-by-step timeline of how I used magic mushrooms to quit smoking.
Period: 6/1/20–7/1/20 (approximately one month total, including several days of integration after the experience—details below)
Date of dose: 6/20/20, noon
Dose: 5 dried grams of P. cubensis (moderate–high potency strain, Koh Samui Super Strain)
Location: On my bed
Setting: Clean room, candle lit, laying on a freshly made bed, in comfy clothes, wearing an eye mask, listening to a curated playlist of classical and ambient music (I also recommend Music for Mushrooms by East Forest)
Summary: The week before the experience, I began to ween myself off tobacco
The week before the experience, I began to ween myself off tobacco
, starting with three cigarettes per day, down to two, one and finally none on the day of the experience. I have tried quitting many times, and this always seems to help. I also wrote every day, putting down my intent on my paper, planning how I wanted this to go, exploring a life without cigarettes, processing my feelings around the experience. I used the week prior to the experience to not only prepare my intention, but also to cleanse myself mentally, physically and spiritually, through a combination of diet, media restriction, sexual abstinence, and exercise, akin to the ayahuasca tradition of “la dieta.” Each day, I tried to simplify and reinforce my intent on paper, being sure to speak it as well, “I will quit smoking cigarettes forever.” This helped me to begin the process of reprogramming my brain to break the habit, that I hoped would be catalyzed with help from the mushrooms.
During the mushroom session, I experienced a universe of sensations, emotions and visions, but the most impactful was the real, physical feeling of being filled with a vibratory energy of love and appreciation for myself and the life given to me, combined with a mantra that I repeated vocally throughout the experience, “I don’t smoke.” Those things have stayed with me, and I attribute a good portion of the success of the experiment to them.
I’ve used journaling, visual art, music, and communication (including this little article) to integrate the experience into my ongoing life. Intentional integration is so important to the success of an attempt like this, and now it is a daily practice of reminding myself of the lessons I learned during the session.
Below, I’ve broken out each day of the week prior to the trip, with excerpts from my journal, to give you a more detailed conception of the process I went through to use mushrooms to quit smoking. Enjoy.
6/1/20: About three weeks before I took my dose, I decided that I wanted to try using mushrooms to quit smoking. This act of deciding, of setting the intention, was the most important part of the process. Over the next several weeks, that intention grew into a concrete, detailed plan, and a definitive intentional statement: “On June 20th, I will take 5 grams of magic mushrooms to help me stop smoking forever and live a healthier life.” There were several versions of this, and I struggled to simplify it. I had a somewhat multifaceted intent (more details below), but I needed a simple statement that would embed itself in my psyche, something that would stick in my subconscious and shape the psychedelic experience automatically.
6/13/20: After setting the intent, I took some time to do some research about how exactly to do this. As stated above, I didn’t find any definitive step-by-step guides, but I knew the basics: set the intent and prepare the set and setting. Journaling was (and still is) one of the most powerful tools I used in this process, and on Saturday, June 13th, a week before my session, I began writing down my intention. I explored the reasons why I wanted to quit smoking, the reasons why I smoked in the first place, and what I wanted my future to look like without cigarettes. I wrote down my plan for the coming week:
“This week, I will not drink alcohol. I will not smoke or ingest marijuana. I will not have sex or masturbate. I will not get on my phone before bed. I will not have more than 3 cigarettes in one day. I will try to have only one on Friday, if any. I will not smoke any on Saturday [the day of the session]. I will spend time outside, not smoking. I will appreciate my lungs. This week, I will do yoga every day. I will meditate every day. I will read a book every day. I will eat fresh vegetables every day. I will go outside every day. I will laugh every day. I will write every day.”
6/14/20: One of my biggest concerns in undergoing this intentional trip, was that I might overwrite or negate some of the healthy habits I’d built up prior to the session. Psychedelics have a way of hitting the reset button, and I wanted to focus my intent on eliminating the unhealthy habits in my life while maintaining the healthy ones. I decided to set out my intent, or rather my proposal to the mushrooms, as clearly as I could. Here is what I wrote:
“These are my (prioritized) requests presented to the mushrooms:
1. Help me quit smoking cigarettes forever. Please.
2. Help me maintain my current healthy habits:
a. Eating salads and fresh vegetables every day.
b. Practicing yoga and meditation every day.
c. Reading a book every day.
d. Rarely drinking alcohol.
3. Help me further develop these habits:
a. Staying sober on week nights.
b. Drinking less on weekends.
c. Playing music and writing in my free time.
d. Drawing when nothing else inspires me.
4. Please strengthen my connection to the universe.
5. (If there’s time) help me lose weight, please. 😊
While these requests are very specific, I will remember the rules:
1. Set and setting are everything.
2. Go with the flow.
If the trip turns a strange corner, I will follow it, and learn from it. I will go through it. If the trip becomes simply too much to handle, I will go to the living room and ask [my on-call trip sitter] for help. I will change the music to Slow Meadow or [insert your favorite chill music—mine is Little Tybee] if I need to change the setting [Also, pro-tip: light a candle]. I will do my best to go where the mushrooms take me. I will surrender.
I’m not scared. I wouldn’t say I’m quite nervous either. I am apprehensive. I sense this approaching tsunami, but I am ready to go surfing.
Tomorrow, I will plan in detail Saturday’s timeline, and ensure that I have all the supplies I need. I will do yoga and meditation, I will eat a big salad, and I will not drink alcohol. I will only smoke two cigarettes.
This is going to work. I’m glad I took this week to prepare. It has helped me realize exactly the things I want in (and out) of my life, and I am so grateful to the mushrooms for giving me this clarity.”
6/15: After thoroughly setting my intention the previous day, I began to plan the logistics of the session, focusing on the supplies I would need and the timeline I expected to follow. Also, each day, after I would write my entry, I would follow it up with a small drawing, a tribute to the mushrooms. Here is what I wrote on the Monday prior to the trip:
“On Saturday, I will wake up at a normal time, around 9am. I’ll drink a large glass of water and then walk the dog. After that, I’ll do yoga and meditate and have a cup of coffee. Then I will take a warm shower and put on clean, comfortable clothes. Then I will clearly and concisely write and state my intention for the trip:
Intention: My goal is to stop smoking cigarettes forever and to maintain my healthy habits. I want to be healthier and stronger, leaner and more flexible. I want to enjoy living healthily, and I want to enjoy this experience.
I have a little bit of apprehension because I’ve never approached a psychedelic experience this way. But I am excited to see how it goes.
After I finish writing and finish my coffee, it should be around 11am or so. At that time, I will gather all of my supplies:
1. 5 grams of dried mushrooms
2. Chocolate bar
3. Glass of water
4. Candle & lighter
6. Phone (on Do Not Disturb mode)
8. Eye mask
12. Crystals (For looking into a quartz crystal when the mushroom experience is peaking. I was transported.)
Then it will be time to tidy the bedroom. Once the bedroom is clean, I will kiss my wife and retreat for the experience. I will close the blinds, light a candle and say a prayer to the mushrooms, asking for a powerful and positive experience. Then I will eat the mushrooms and chocolate, and I will listen to the playlist, while meditating, until the mushrooms kick in. Then I will go where the take me.
Once the experience has more or less ended, I will get some water and eat a salad with mixed nuts. Then I will attempt to document my experience, through journaling or voice recording. Any lessons that I’ve learned will be clearly written in intentional statements, and I will try to describe a plan for the future.”
6/16–17: I had some setbacks on these days, with low motivation to write and some mild depressive states, coupled with smoking more cigarettes than I had planned. I still managed to write a little bit on the 16th, and made sure to do more research on ways to integrate the psychedelic experience.
6/18: By Thursday, I had done a fair amount of research and reflection on experience integration. Since I had already laid out my intent and my timeline for the trip, I decided to set out all of the tools I planned to use for integration:
“I’m excited for the integration portion of the experience. I have had some second thoughts about taking a full 5 grams, but I think that’s just some of the ol’ fear of the unknown coming through. Last time was definitely intense—I think the fact that this time I’m approaching it with a clear intent (stop smoking forever and be health) will make the trip both more manageable and likely even more intense. But we will see. At this point, I’m committed. Buy the ticket, take the ride.
So I’ve got some ideas about how I want to integrate the experience. It’s more of a toolkit than a plan, though. I really want to focus on journaling. When I do this, it helps me in a lot of ways. My thoughts seem clearer, and things feel more harmonious in general. I think that’s because I have a narrative, a framework to fit things in. It’s like that feeling I get when I'm into a good book, and things happening IRL seem to be in sync with the story. Only this is my story, so that’s even better, right? I also want to make sure to draw something from the trip. Even just a single image. And of course, I’d love to write a song based on the trip. Or even just record some music that expresses my feelings around the experience in some way. I’ll see what inspires me.
I realized today that I accidentally scheduled this journey on the summer solstice. That feels like a good omen—like I’m growing up, entering the maturing seasons. I think I’d like to schedule another experience (maybe a smaller one) on the autumnal equinox. We’ll see how I feel or if it’s even going to beneficial at that point. I did read that one protocol for psychedelic therapy involved three trips, spaced months apart, so that would fit the model. I need to make to DO THE WORK between the trips, though.
I also want to talk with my wife about the experience. I think it’s important that she knows what’s going on with me, even (or especially) as a result of a psychedelic ceremony.
‘Ceremony’ feels a little weird, I think because it’s just me. There’s no facilitator, no audience, just me eating mushrooms in my bedroom.
There’s no facilitator, no audience, just me eating mushrooms in my bedroom.
But I do want to give the experience and the mushroom the respect it deserves. I think the more that I can ritualize the process, the more work I put into it, the more I will get out of it.
For integration practices, to summarize, I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing: yoga, meditation, writing, reading, playing music, staying sober, eating well—but I will bring intent to them in (hopefully) a more focused and clarified way than before.”
6/19 (the day before the ceremony): By Friday, I felt prepared, though more nervous. I used my writing time to reinforce my intent and plan for following day.
“Tomorrow is the big day. I will take 5 grams of magic mushrooms and ask them to help me stop smoking forever and to help me get healthier. I want this to be a positive experience.
Today I’ve had a bit of fear. The possibility of a ‘bad trip,’ the looming unknown… I know how intense it can be. But when I remind myself of the relationship I’ve built with this fungus over the year, I feel calm. I look forward to being with this friend again.
I’ve done a good job of controlling my cigarette cravings today. None smoked so far, and I think I’ll wait until after dinner to have my last one. This really does feel like the last one. It’s a little bit sad for me. I’ve heard people liken this process of quitting to losing a friend. But it’s a friend that steals from you and has sex with your spouse when you’re not around. Good riddance.
I’m still having very strong cravings. I can feel them in my chest, in my throat, in my teeth. Itching for the nicotine. I think the most amazing thing will be if they just disappear tomorrow. That would be wonderful, and if it is even the smallest probability, I want to remain open to it.
I have no idea how this will work, but if I believe that it will, if I intend it to, it will. And I do. That’s why I’m doing this.
Tonight, I’ll have steamed vegetables and some roasted mushrooms. No oil. Tomorrow, I’ll fast until noon, and then have the mushrooms and some chocolate. Then I’ll have an amazing, life-changing experience, full of magic and beauty, and I will stop smoking cigarettes forever. <3 “
June 20th, 2020: On the morning of the ceremony, I stuck to my plan. I walked the dog, meditated, did some yoga, drank a cup of coffee, kissed my wife and tidied my room. I paid extra attention to my set and setting, treating myself and my surroundings with care. Throughout the morning, I reminded myself of my intention to quit smoking cigarettes forever. Then, I shut the door, closed the blinds, and set up my ceremony.
A ceremonial dish (the lid of an old mushroom jar), holding the mushrooms, surrounded by 4 quartz crystals, two chocolate pieces, an eye mask, a lighter and my journal.
“In front of me sits 5.1 grams of dried KSSS Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms. I am going to eat them and ask for help, with these intentions: I will quit smoking forever and maintain my healthy habits, building upon them to live a healthy life that I enjoy living. Thank you, mushrooms, for providing his opportunity. I hope you will give me a powerful and positive experience. I will go where you take me. Here we go.”
I wish I could have somehow recorded all of the sensations, emotions and visions that experience gave to me. It was a whirlwind that bordered on euphoric, overwhelming, disorienting, awe-inspiring, so many things all at once. Throughout the experience, I kept repeating “I don’t smoke” and that has carried over into my psyche after the experience. I have had some close calls, but over a month after the dose, I still have not had a single cigarette. The cravings did not magically go away, as I hoped they might, but their weight was lessened, their attachment to me was weakened. They became a passing annoyance. Whenever I feel one now, I remind myself, “I don’t smoke.” I remember the intense radiating love that filled my body during the experience, as I was enveloped by my loving ancestors
I remember the intense radiating love that filled my body during the experience, as I was enveloped by my loving ancestors
, that shouted to me “you’re too precious to kill yourself like this.”
It is such a difficult thing to put the experience into words. Each person will have their own unique experience, every time, so it really would do no good to recount the very personal qualities of my own ceremony here. Instead, I will share some of the lessons I took away from the experience that I managed to distill into a few paragraphs the next day.
6/21/20: “Here are some of the epiphanies I walked away with, though they don’t even compare in scope to the experience. Here are a few atoms from the universe of yesterday:
1. We don’t have one point of view—we have two. This was a result of noticing that my eyes produced two separate images, which interfered with each other to create my overall experience of the universe. This did not appear to be confined to the eyes or even the bodily senses—my personality, the make-up of the physical universe, it all seemed to fit, and it still does. I’d like to explore this more. [I’m tellin’ ya, make sure to have some crystals on hand. This handy epiphany came from turning a crystal in my hand and staring into the images it created, then launching down a vibratory worm hole.]
2. I don’t smoke. Period. It’s that simple. I love myself and my body too much to kill it like that.
3. There is a certain amphibious quality to humans. We are semi-aquatic, smooth-skinned for the most part, omnivorous (depending on species). Can you imagine a frog smoking? I feel like it would die after the first drag. [This strange amphibious epiphany arose after a vision of a frog with cat ears smoking a cigarette appeared, and my identity merged with it during the trip.]
4. I felt connected to my ancestors. I felt their presence, and their consciousness was connecting to mine. The pure love I felt made me pity those of us still on Earth, dealing with the trivialities and banal dramas of daily life, wrestling with our own minds. But I feel the peace and love at the end (?) of it all, and it is beautiful. It felt like the foundation of reality. [This feeling came from a vision of being surrounded by layers of consciousness. It felt like I was at the center of some sphere, while the layers surrounding me were the consciousness of my dead family members. I could see the layers and feel the spirits. It was beautiful.]
5. Love is real. It’s a hot, vibratory energy, and I’m not sure it is different from life itself. [This realization came from a very real, very visceral experience of my body filling with golden energy that threatened to burn right through my chest. It was euphoric and intense, almost painful. My lungs were shouting with life.]
My challenge now is to carry this love with me, and remind myself that I am too precious to destroy. I deserve to take care of myself.
Thank you, mushrooms, for the lessons.”
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