We had the good fortune of connecting with Lori Tipton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lori, how do you think about risk?
Risk-taking is a precursor to growth. Doing things differently will result in some form of change – for better or worse. While I have embraced risk-taking in my life, I acknowledge it is a privilege. I believe it may be easier for a person who feels safe and supported to take big risks than those who may be lacking these basic needs. Many of my personal and professional life choices have fallen outside of societal norms, easily casting them as “risky.” I believe this will prove a temporary classification as people become more accepting of non-traditional relationships and families as well as the incredible potential of psychedelic medicines within the field of mental health. Personal and professional risk-taking shouldn’t be synonymous with danger.
While some people thought my participation in an FDA-approved clinical trial of MDMA (also known as Ecstasy) to treat PTSD was risky, it truly was nothing short of life-saving. Excavating my trauma and pain was not an easy or comfortable experience, but was rewarding beyond what I could have previously imagined. Choosing to share my story with others has been an absolute honor. I look forward to a day when psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is no longer considered outside the norm of mental health therapies and I hope to help change this narrative. If that’s a risk, it’s one I’ll gladly continue to take.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a writer, essayist and public speaker, I use my personal experiences to address larger social issues such as: mental illness, sexual identity, family dynamics, motherhood, feminism, drug addiction, cognitive liberty, and the lack of trauma-informed education and therapies within the fields of mental health and criminal justice.
After struggling with PTSD for over a decade of my life, I was chosen to participate in an FDA trial using the psychedelic drug MDMA. This treatment involved multiple MDMA therapy sessions which dealt directly with the most devastating experiences of my life, which include: depression, murder, suicide, natural disaster, rape and self-sabotage through drug/alcohol abuse. During these therapeutic sessions I was given the opportunity to focus on three of my most intense traumas, the death of brother to an overdose, the discovery of the bodies of my mother and two women she had murdered, and my rape. Through this therapy I was able to find forgiveness and empathy for others, and also for myself. The outcome of this treatment has been nothing short of life-saving. My first-hand experience has motivated me to dedicate myself to the advocacy of psychedelics as a tool for mental health and to work towards drug policy reform.
As a co-director of the Psychedelic Society of New Orleans, I am a public vanguard for psychedelic reform. My experience within and support by those in the psychedelic community has allowed me to further my interest and study in the intersectionality of psychedelics, mental health, public policy and drug criminalization. I, along with my colleagues have begun working on a Decriminalize Nature campaign for the city of New Orleans as we are determined to initiate drug policy reform on a local level. This campaign challenges public perceptions of criminality and introduces the possibility of deep, intergenerational healing through psychedelics creating an indispensable solution to the “War on Drugs.”
My memoir, which I am currently completing, focuses on the groundbreaking impact of psychedelic therapies for mental health and my commitment to shifting the cultural resistance to psychedelics. My therapeutic experiences with psychedelics have transformed the trajectory of my life from a place of struggling to survive to one of authenticity, compassion and presence. I understand the positive impact that psychedelics offer those who are suffering from a variety of mental health and/or addiction disorders. My story is one that is valuable to the world, specifically at this time. While the data surrounding the use of psychedelic medicines is incredibly positive, I believe the humanization of this data through personal story-telling is imperative to increasing its impact on social and criminal justice change. The current world of psychedelic culture is heavily male-dominated and it is not only an honor, but a responsibility to share my voice as a queer Southern woman within this field.
I am excited to see a growing interest in the fields of psychedelic therapies and decriminalization efforts. I look forward to a future where psychedelic therapies are accessible to all people who could benefit from them. My continued goal is to provide hope for the hopeless and to motivate individuals to become active in their communities in relation to drug policy reform.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
*Voodoo Lounge 718 N Rampart Street
*The Chart Room 300 Chartres Street
*Erin Rose 811 Conti Street
*Bar Tonique 820 N Rampart Street
*Cane & Table 1113 Decatur Street
*Cure 4905 Freret Street
*Allways Lounge 2240 St. Claude Ave
*The Black Penny 700 N Rampart Street
*Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone
*Bud Rips 900 Piety Street
* Peche 800 Magazine Street (Seafood)
* Bearcat Cafe 845 Carondelet St. (Vegan/breakfast lunch)
* Molly’s Rise & Shine 2368 Magazine Street (breakfast/lunch)
*Cochon 930 Tchoupitoulas Street (Southern/Cajun)
*Compère Lapin 535 Tchoupitoulas Street (Caribbean/Cajun)
*Carmo 527 Julia Street (Vegan)
*Gianna 700 Magazine Street (Italian)
*Small Mart 2700 Chartres Street (Vegan)
*Sneaky Pickle 4017 St. Claude Avenue (Vegan)
*Suis Generis 3219 Burgundy (Local Rotating Menu)
*The Joint 701 Mazant Street (BBQ)
*Sweet Soulfood 1025 N Broad (Vegan)
*Kin 4600 Washington Ave (Southeast Asian)
*Pho Tau Bay 1565 Tulane Avenue (Vietnamese)
*N7 1117 Montegut Street (French)
*Turkey and the Wolf 739 Jackson Avenue (Sandwiches)
*Bakery Bar 1179 Annunciation (Cocktails & Sweets)
*Coquette 2800 Magazine Street (Southern)
*Cafe Du Monde 800 Decatur Street (Beignets)
*Verti Marte 1201 Royal Street (24 hour deli/delivery)
Favorite places to visit:
City Park for nature
French Quarter for tourism
Magazine Street for shopping
Octavia Books for books
Museums: The Cabildo, The Ogden, The Contemporary Arts Center, Louisiana Children’s Museum
Rebirth Jazz Band
Fleur de Tease Burlesque
Cajun Brunch & Dance at the Tigermen Den
Music Box Village
Kermti Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The following is a sampling of authors whose works have broadened my perspective and inspired me (in alphabetic order by last name): Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear by Dr. Carl Hart
Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, from Soul to Psychedelics by Julie Holland
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, MD
My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem
How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan
Introduction to the Internal Family Systems Model by Richard C Schwartz
Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal by Tom Shroder
Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds by Lauren Slater
The Fellowship of the River: A Medical Doctor’s Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine by Joseph Tafur, MD
The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love Sonya Renee Taylor
Cheryl Gerber Alison Moon