Joint Reality

The name of this technique is a deliberate pun. The technique described here is the conscious use of narcotic agents to provide insight, either personally or together. When the narcotic is marijuana and when the process is done together the clear aim is to produce a ‘joint reality’.

Many people only use drugs such as marijuana, ecstasy and psilocybin for pleasure, for ‘getting out of it’. The procedure described here is the opposite – it is for getting deeper into whatever is going on at a personal or interpersonal level.

The key features of this conscious use of drugs are

1. set up a time when you will not be distracted nor disturbed. This usually involves turning phones off, locking doors and generally letting the world know that you are unavailable and do not want to be disturbed. It is critical that you, or you both, feel completely safe.

2. set a clear intention regarding what you wish to explore. If you are doing this together then it is worth discussing your intention so that you can agree exactly what it is that you are aiming for. If you are doing it alone take time to decide exactly what it is that you want from the session. The intention should be clarified well before you become intoxicated or high with the drug.

Once you have created a safe place, set your intention, ingest the drug and then just relax and let the intoxication take you wherever it will. For strong drugs such as LSD or psilocybin there is often a fear phase that requires you to just surrender to the process. For less intense drugs, like cannabis or ecstasy, there is usually just a growing sense of euphoria that may make you want to talk more than usual. Allow these phases to come and go. At some point, and often by a circuitous route, you will find yourself focussed on or discussing the issue that was the subject of your intention. If you are doing this solo I strongly recommend that you write down your thoughts and insights. If you are doing it with your partner manage time so that you can both talk about the same amount.

3. The next day, when you are completely sober, go over the insights and realisations that you made whilst intoxicated. Even if you took the drug on your own it is best to talk it through with your partner. If you took the drug together then recap what you understood together.

I have used drugs in this way for the last 40+ years. In all that time I have never had an insight that later turned out to be false. However quite frequently the influence of the drug would lead me to overestimate the importance or significance of aspects of the issue. The very best way to counter this tendency is to discuss the findings when sober.

Eva and I have often used cannabis to address issues that have become stuck between us. We have worked on something and thought that we had made progress, only to find some time later that the issue is still there and causing discord. Getting stoned (with cannabis) with the intention of understanding the issue at a deeper level usually resolves it quickly and permanently.

We have used ecstasy(MDMA) in a similar fashion, but less often and always with more than three months between sessions. When Shulgin first synthesised ecstasy for his own use he recognised its potential for resolving relationship issues and introduced it to a couples therapist. For many years it went around the USA sorting out difficult relationship issues. It has three properties that facilitate this. First it is a heart opener, people experience being more loving and loved under this drug. Secondly there is a powerful drive to tell the truth, often truths that have been unconscious or semi-conscious until then. Thirdly it makes it extremely easy to really hear the other person, not just the words but the deeper meaning in their communication. Many couples have reported that ecstasy has prompted them to make confessions to each other and to forgive each other for past misdemeanours. If you want a detailed guide on how to use ecstasy (MDMA) it is available here (Improving Relationships v1).

The drug 4FA has been successfully used by couples to deepen their relationship. A dose of 100mg produces a high that lasts about 6 hours and most of that time will be spent in intense conversation. In many ways it is similar to ecstasy in opening the heart and improving the contact between people. However it can also produce an adverse reaction the next day because the intense contact disappears.

I personally used psilocybin to explore my psyche at a time when I could not remember any of my childhood. In general psilocybin is a drug for going inward alone, it is much less useful for sorting relationship issues. I have found LSD and ayahuasca similar in this respect.

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