PT265 – Jessica Cadoch, MA – Cooperation, Drug Exceptionalism, and 12-step Programs

October 5, 2021

In this episode, Joe interviews Jessica Cadoch, MA: Medical Anthropologist, former Executive Director of the Montreal Psychedelic Society, and current Research Manager working at Maya Public Benefit Corporation. 

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In this episode, Joe interviews Jessica Cadoch, MA: Medical Anthropologist, former Executive Director of the Montreal Psychedelic Society, and current Research Manager working at Maya Public Benefit Corporation. 

She talks about her psychedelic path and two most important pieces of research: First, how the rites of passage one experiences at a psytrance festival emulates the traditional ritual structure (and how the reintegration back into society is the most important part), and second; the concerns for people in long-term recovery and 12-step programs using substances therapeutically, for getting off their problematic substances, and even recreationally (when those substances have been labelled “dangerous drugs” their whole lives). 

She discusses Maya, a platform where psychedelic therapists can gain better insights into their practices by learning from one another’s reports, developing better, more consistent protocols, and creating better qualitative questions and measures for patients. She’s now seeing her main role as bridging the gap between nonprofits and for-profits. 

And as this was the rare time Joe was able to record in-person, this episode feels a bit more conversational and far-ranging than some. They also discuss how people view different substances based on if they’re man-made or not, spiritual bypassing, Carl Hart and the dangers of drug exceptionalism, the need to decriminalize all drugs, the Nacirema people, 12-step programs and the risks of 13th steppers, how our culture views medicine as gospel, and how we all need to stop the in-fighting and division within our psychedelic communities and learn to work with the big corporations many are scared of. 

Notable Quotes

“What is the real definition of ‘recreational’? It’s to recreate and to reconnect and maybe to fix things. So we have these really strange conceptions around recreational use being almost like an antithesis to therapeutic use.”

“I do not enjoy psychedelic exceptionalism, particularly because I did that. I did that with my best friend who died of heroin. I said, ‘My drugs are better than your drugs. You should come do LSD with me instead.’ And what did that do? It made her feel judged, it pushed me away further, and I almost didn’t get to speak with her before she died to say sorry. And that’s what psychedelic exceptionalism can do, is it puts people who are using other substances into a category lower and lesser.”

“In thinking about where [we’re] going with this movement, it’s up to us. We get to write this script, and we get to be a part of it, which is why it’s really important to be in the conversations with the big companies rather than to run away from them.”

“The way that we believe in science is so cultural. We’ll believe it in the same way that another culture might have this faith in a sacrament or might have faith in a certain crystal or a rock. …We idolize the research paper.”





Maya: Ethics

Maya: Metamorphosis: The Evolution of Psychedelic Healing Practices in the West

​​Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge a Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution, by Terence McKenna

The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, by Aldous Huxley

Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear, by Dr. Carl L. Hart (Society for Psychedelic Outreach, Reform, and Education)

Psychedelics Today: PT242 – Gary Laderman – Religion: Sex, Death, and Drugs

​​“Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” by Horace Miner (list of questionnaires)

About Jessica Cadoch, MA

Jessica is a Medical Anthropologist working at Maya Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) as a Research Manager. As the former Executive Director of the Montreal Psychedelic Society, Jessica is passionate about bridging the non-for-profit and for profit world of psychedelic initiatives. With a particular interest in the intermingling of 12-step methods of managing addiction and psychedelic-assisted therapy, Jessica is concerned with ensuring that psychedelic practices are carefully and ethically integrated into modern Western society and culture. Email her at: 

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