Alex and Allyson Grey's Psychedelic Families lecture
March 23, 2008 Congress Center of Basel, Switzerland
Idea of "Father Knows Best" ideal American family from early-mid 1900s
-Personal history- No discussion of drugs with parents, but often surrounded by alcohol, tobacco, legal/prescription drug use, although problem use is veiled or not discussed, it is in the background
Images- Ozzy and Harriet (ideal of mom/dad/teens, happy together) vs. Ozzy Osbourne and family- both are "together" families that have caring/loving but appear very different
Consistent mischaracterization of the marijuana issue often at the root of the drug education problem- exaggerates and conflicts with what many know through experiencing or observing its reality, or some simple research (more generally lumping drugs by legal/illegal and arbitrary categories)
"Your brain on drugs" ad image- fried egg- does not distinguish between use and abuse, or entheogenic drugs vs. addictive drugs
Reagan's Just Say No (also parodied throughout pop. culture)
DARE- "I pledge to lead a drug-free life." Taught at very young age
The statement one is forced to make is not helpful (actually harmful) b/c not necessarily true but one has to say it- hypocrisy, one is too young to understand or decide
-stats- kids in suburbs with DARE studied- higher abuse of drugs rather than lower
Abstinence only education-> problematic myths
ie. -that experimenting is bad, unnatural, not common or normal
-that marijuana is a gateway drug and also harmful in other ways
-that use and abuse are one and the same
Truth: Around or more than 53% of h.s. seniors have illegal drug experience, while only 1/100 who have tried pot is a current user of cocaine (ie. pot does not lead into cocaine abuse and addiction.. backwards reasoning..)
HARM REDUCTION Approach:
80-90% of users actually control their use
Ethics can be taught- principles such as don't drive under the influence, don't go to school/work, don't dose others without consent, start small, etc. (These are things parents fear- but actually are warned against within responsible use and harm reduction community..)
*Keeping kids safe as absolute highest priority*
Therefore we need:
-Honest, science based education of all drugs (legal/illegal, addictive vs. not, etc. a drug is a drug and should be presented accurately)
-Encourage safety and moderation if experimentation persists
-Discuss legal, social issues surrounding it honestly
Focus on Personal Responsibility:
Step 1= LISTEN= non judgmentally, link of trust- parents counter intuitively must be grateful and receptive when kids share experiences as it means that trust is present- shouldn't be dismissed or punished because of emotional response at outset or own judgments
Step 2= LEARN= learn about substances from reliable sources so you know that information if needed (both practically ie. someone is using this substance, and also it seems they imply so that one can themselves understand the issues and form a perspective based on fact regardless of how/when these issues may arise, chances are they will in some context)
Step 3= ACT= keep kids engaged after and outside of school, keep them from getting bored, positive environment and activities
Step 4= LEAD= involvement with PTA-type stuff, meeting and knowing the kids/parents in their social groups
Step 5= HELP= recognize when there is a problem or a bad reaction to something (be aware of these things, avoid denial) and provide constructive help when clearly needed
Gave site: www.safety1st.org
Legal and Social Systems:
Idea that 23 US states have parental exception clauses about alcohol- parents can choose to allow their children to share a drink or ingest in the right contexts and learn about the pros/cons- Gives authority back to parents where it belongs
Idea that contemporary western culture rejects psychedelics but they are still used quite regularly by many leads to conclusion that social and legal condemnation are often not deterrents to use
Continued abuse- often due to lack of the right context (not available because of sociocultural factors, laws, and basic belief system that has been adopted)- if sacred context and correct info were available would reduce alienation, destructive behaviors, other probs would lessen
Brazil's UDV- Uniao de Vegetal- Ayahuasca used to bond within group throughout life, even during childbirth, etc.
Machichuenga (sp?), Bwiti (iboga), Native Am. Church (peyote)- all use substance as a sacred ritual and rite of passage- children might start with small doses when young, then increase over time- ie. the Huichol say age 6-8 depending on the child is good, the "age of understanding," in that at the point which they can verbally articulate their experiences, but before the time when they are dealing with issues of identity, sexuality, etc.
Huxley's Island- "Never give a child a chance to to imagine that anything exists in isolation..."
After 11 years together they decided to have a child. Allyson believed that the parent part of life, or "life training" was an essential part of the experience of like "the "parent training") and didn't want to miss this integral portion of things, Alex agreed, and they had to figure out how to live the lifestyle that would facilitate this in a positive way- ie. they knew that they'd had fun and enjoyed their lifestyle, but that it was not a family lifestyle for a couple wanting a child (artists, little money, losts of partying, etc.) So they decided on a one year abstinence thing to prepare. They discussed "conscious conception," got pregnant the first time they tried, and the abstinence thing extended throughout pregnancy, birth, and nursing of their daughter- about 1.5 years.
Early approach, when they resumed using occasionally, was to never use around her, only if she were say with relatives, or they were out of town, etc. They stressed they didn't hide from her, but didn't want this to be around her, so thus their use was very sporadic.
They also decided at this point she would be their only child- vision of a triangle configuration for their family, and of this being less stressful on the Earth as well- to allow them the family experience without an undue burden on natural resources.
They shared three main reasons behind not using around their daughter:
1. They didn't want her to become afraid or feel she lacked support if they were to act differently in any way or if she were to pick up on that.
2. If there were ever to have been an emergency, they would want and need to be fully present to make sure their daughter was okay, and had to put this first as parents.
3. The idea that psychedelics should be an inner journey, and if one is constantly worried about another person or other responsibilities, it can detract from the fullness and richness of that experience.
Noted 8-12 year frame as when many kids are very rule-conscious, talk a lot and pick up on things from school, friends, tv, etc. So sometimes they will be very afraid if they think their parents are doing something that is "wrong" or "illegal," or could get them into trouble. Need to handle this tactfully- difficult at times.
Would bring their daughter to psychedelic oriented conferences at a young age- remembers that when she was 10, after hearing her dad give a talk about the influences of psychedelics in his work, she needed to have this idea to make her feel safe, and one day expressed it by saying "You guys only smoke marijuana." That was what she needed to believe and they let her, although she'd been exposed to the truth many times, that was just what she needed to think.
Belief that if your child asks you something, they deserve your honesty and consideration in return.. but also to not to bring up topics that are over their heads- let them lead in the pace. Discussed how being part of an underground society or movement can be a hugely frightening burden on a young mind, so wait until they are ready for that, don't burden them with more than they need to know, but work towards that through open and honest dialogue