Over the past few years, the United States has seen an increase in adults using hallucinogenic drugs, according to a peer-reviewed study by Colombia University. The study revealed, that while only 0.9% of American adults twenty years ago used hallucinogens, 5.5% of adults now claim to use them.

The believed reasoning behind such a massive increase in microdosing is (1) recent studies that have presented the medical benefits that hallucinogens can provide as well as (2) a change public perception of psychedelics in recent years.

The numbers of adults who have openly discussed the benefits they’ve found from microdosing includes not only average citizens, but celebrity athletes such as Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, New Orleans Saints wide receiver, Kenny Stills.

While appearing as a guest on the Aubrey Marcus Podcast, Rodgers revealed that he had visited Peru in March of 2020 where he had an experience with ayahuasca, a South American tea containing the hallucinogenic tryptamine drug, DMT. The former Super Bowl champion claimed that his experience with the hallucinogenic resulted in him not only experiencing an improved mental health but caused him to find a new appreciation for life.

When speaking with Aubrey Marcus about his experience, Rodgers said that ayahuasca caused him to not only learn to unconditionally love others, but to unconditionally love himself, and resulted in him having a new perspective on his athletic career that led to him winning back-to-back MVP awards in the 2020 and 2021 NFL seasons.

Kenny Stills Photo Credit: All-Pro Reels from District of Columbia, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Before Rodgers publicly revealed his use of ayahuasca, Kenny Stills was the first professional American athlete to openly discuss microdosing hallucinogenics. He explained that despite his success as a professional athlete, Stills was feeling cloudy and unfulfilled in his life and was later diagnosed with depression. As a result, he sought various forms of treatment for his depression and found that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy helped him lower his anxiety levels and be more of his “true self.”

But not every athlete who is using hallucinogenic drugs as a form of medical treatment is ready to openly discuss it. Many fans see professional athletes as heroes who are more than human, and seeking treatment for mental health is still considered by many to be a sign of weakness. Not to mention the consequences that professional athlete face if they fail a drug test.

While testing for marijuana is becoming more relaxed in the world of professional sports, hallucinogenics opens a whole ‘nother can of worms. Aaron Rodgers never informed the Packers, or the NFL, about his use of ayahuasca and was nervous about discussing it publicly, even thought it is not a substance banned by NFL rules and a representative from the NFL would go on to clarify that the hallucinogenic tea wouldn’t have even been detected on a drug test.

Drug use testing varies from league to league, but in terms of hallucinogenics, the NBA currently prohibits ketamine, LSD and MDMA while the MLB also prohibits ayahuasca, psilocybin and mescaline. The World Anti-Doping Agency currently bans MDMA from use by athletes during competition, but has no mention of any other banned psychedelic drugs.

The main outlier when prohibiting the use of hallucinogens in professional sports is the UFC, which has gone so far as to fund research with Johns Hopkins about how therapy with psychedelic drugs could benefit the mental health of their fighters.

Will Smith Photo Credit :John Mathew Smith & www.celebrity-photos.com from Laurel Maryland, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Outside the world of sports, many celebrities have also come forward to discuss how hallucinogens have improved their mental health. When speaking with journalist Wesley Lowery for GQ last year, actor Will Smith revealed that like, Aaron Rodgers, he participated in over a dozen ayahuasca rituals when visiting Peru while trying to “find himself.”

Despite having never using recreation drugs before, and only being a casual drinker, he referred to the rituals as being very liberating and was the greatest feeling that he had ever felt in his life. Back in 2020, Comedian Chris Rock discussed that he not only used ayahuasca, but has hosted ayahuasca ceremonies in his home and encouraged many of his friends to also try ayahuasca.

Overall, recent medical studies have shown how hallucinogenic drugs can benefit people with anxiety and depression, and this has led to them having a massive increase in popularity, including celebrities.

Could public figures like Aaron Rodgers and Will Smith openly discussing the medical benefits they’ve felt from using psychedelics lead to such drugs becoming more socially acceptable? Only time will tell for sure but for now we can keep our hopes up for the future of hallucinogenics and the benefits that they can provide.

AJ Favorito is a freelance writer, photographer, and filmmaker specializing in comedy and animation. 

Works Cited
“New Study Estimates over 5.5 Million U.S. Adults Use Hallucinogens.” Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 18 Aug. 2022, https://www.publichealth.columbia.edu/public-health-now/news/new-study-estimates-over-55-million-us-adults-use-hallucinogens.

Miller, Michael. “Psychedelic Research Renaissance.” UC News, University of Cincinnati , 16 Aug. 2022, https://www.uc.edu/news/articles/2022/07/uc-researcher-explains-how-psychedelics-are-seeing-a-renaissance-in-potential-medical-treatments.html.

Neumann, Thomas. “Aaron Rodgers Won’t Be Disciplined for Using Psychedelic Drug.” Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated, 9 Aug. 2022,

Lowery, Wesley. “Introducing the Real Will Smith.” GQ, 27 Sept. 2021, https://www.gq.com/story/will-smith-november-cover-profile?utm_source=twitter&mbid=social_twitter&utm_brand=gq&utm_social-type=owned&utm_medium=social.

NewsDesk, Microdose. “NFL All-Star Aaron Rodgers Says Ayahuasca Helped Him Become MVP.” Microdose, 4 Aug. 2022, https://microdose.buzz/news/nfl-all-star-aaron-rodgers-says-ayahuasca-helped-his-career/.

Raimondi, Marc. “UFC Looks into Johns Hopkins Study on Psychedelic Drugs as Potential Therapy for Fighters.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 14 Jan. 2021, https://www.espn.com/mma/story/_/id/30708045/ufc-looks-johns-hopkins-study-psychedelic-drugs-potential-therapy-fighters.

Kliegman, Julie. “What Athletes Get from Ayahuasca, Mushrooms and Ecstasy.” Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated, 12 Aug. 2022, https://www.si.com/more-sports/2022/08/12/psychedelics-sports-aaron-rodgers-daily-cover

Larsen, Dana. “5 Celebrities Surprisingly into Psychedelics.” Cracked.com, Cracked.com, 27 Feb. 2022, https://www.cracked.com/article_32787_5-celebrities-surprisingly-into-psychedelics.html.

Najum, Jason. “Celebrities Continue to Come out for Psychedelics.” Microdose, 10 June 2022, https://microdose.buzz/news/celebrities-continue-to-come-out-for-psychedelics/.