Dear Friends,

Because the nature of psychedelic psychotherapy, and indeed psychedelics themselves, is highly controversial I would like to share with you how they became a part of my private practice and, in fact, encouraged me toward a study of psychiatry.

I became aware of psychedelics during my study of psychopharmacology while in medical school. I immediately became fascinated by the idea that visionary experiences and altered states of consciousness could be achieved by partaking in certain chemicals. Because I was raised in the former Soviet Union, where no form of psychedelic drugs were available at that time, I came across the possibility of taking psychedelics only during my fifth year of medical school (medical education in the Soviet Union was a six-year program). I learned that a professor in the Department of Psychiatry was looking for volunteers to take part in an LSD study to learn more about its pharmacological effect. In order to participate in this study, one had to belong to the Psychiatric Science Student Society. I enrolled in the Student Society, and applied for this opportunity. I did not enroll in this study because of my particular interest in psychiatry, but rather my interest in the psychedelics themselves. Although the professor’s grant was not approved and I was not exposed to psychedelics at that time, it furthered my interest in psychedelics and piqued my interest in the study of psychiatry.

I immigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union in 1981. My decision to immigrate to the United States was partially influenced by the accessibility of psychedelic drugs. After passing all required exams to practice in the United States, I started preceptor training. It was here that the opportunity presented itself to try psychedelics for the first time. One of the psychiatric residents, after learning about my desire to try psychedelics, gave me a dose of LSD as a gift. I tried LSD for the first time at the age of 33 and was extremely perplexed by the drug’s effects. I had an out of body experience. I experienced the sensation of becoming a non-physical energy being, traveling through the galaxy within my own mind. From that point I continued to use LSD infrequently for similar experiences without being aware of the greater potential of psychedelics.

In 1990, I had a spontaneous transformative experience during one of my psychedelic experiments. I was able to overcome my use of alcohol, which by that time was virtually daily. At that time, I never considered that I had an alcohol problem. I was offered the position of director of an alcohol treatment facility and one of the requirements of the facility was personal sobriety of all staff members. At that point I realized that my desire to use alcohol was very strong and, despite my commitment to the facility in which I worked, I returned to drinking once every several days or so. During that time my distant relative from the Soviet Union visited me and I shared LSD with him. Unfortunately, he started having excessive anxiety and began to have a “bad trip.” In order to quell his anxiety and improve his state of mind, I offered him alcohol. In fact, after drinking the alcohol, his condition did improve and he started having a pleasant experience. My own experience, however, became nightmarish and negative with intense flashes and re-experiences of all my past misuses of alcohol. When the experience was over I realized that all my craving for alcohol disappeared and I never had another drink from that time forward.

That experience made me aware of the potential of psychedelics as a therapeutic tool. While researching this, I realized that psychedelics were already extensively researched specifically for the treatment of various addictions as well as various psychological problems. Unfortunately, the majority of psychedelics are not available for legal use in the United States, even for research purposes. However, after conducting some research I discovered a Soviet psychiatrist specializing in psychedelic psychotherapy, Dr. Evgeny Krupitsky. Dr. Krupitsky was using ketamine for inducing a psychedelic experience for use in psychotherapy. Because ketamine is a drug for legal use in the United States as well, we began developing a protocol for the use of ketamine psychedelic psychotherapy for the treatment of alcoholism. You can see this protocol, which was eventually FDA approved, in the Resources section of this site.

During this period of time I conducted a self-experiment with ketamine to learn its effect on human consciousness. I employed a nurse practitioner who supervised my experience and administered me with ketamine. Although by that time I had used LSD more than thirty times over an eleven year period, the ketamine experience was the first that I would truly describe as mystical. For the first time in my life I had an ego-dissolving, transpersonal peak experience. This event, characterized by the dissolution of boundaries between the self and external reality, gave me the feeling of cosmic unity with humanity, nature, the universe, and God. This direct experience of universal consciousness opened my mind to the idea that psychedelics could be used not only for recreational and therapeutic reasons, but also for psycho-spiritual growth. My ketamine-induced mystical experience contributed to including in the WELL Program not only body-mind medicine, but the spiritual dimension of human consciousness.

It is well documented that those who have had a mystical experience, such as a near death experience or an ecstatic trance, frequently report instances of spontaneous healing and personal transformation. It is my hope that clients of the Kolp Institute, with careful preparation and medical supervision, will be able to have a safe, genuine mystical experience which will assist them in overcoming their common household addictions, accelerating their psych-spiritual growth, and promoting the lifestyle transformation needed to achieve optimal health.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about my personal journey of discovery.

Be Well,

Dr. Eli Kolp