‘Magic mushrooms’ have been shown to help veterans suffering from PTSD when nothing else works.

(Richard Vogel | AP photo)

In this May 24, 2019, photo, a vendor bags psilocybin mushrooms at a pop-up cannabis market in Los Angeles.

A new law in Utah would allow psychedelics to be studied for use in the treatment of disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder. This is an incredible law that has the potential to help numerous veterans and others suffering from PTSD. Considering this law, I wanted to share a story with all of you reading this. This story is about a veteran and how “magic mushrooms” have helped him deal with his trauma.

In 2015, a young 18-year-old man who wanted to serve his country had an experience that would profoundly affect his life. For seven years, PTSD rocked the young man’s life.

This young man spent years dealing with depression, suicidal thoughts, constant nightmares, panic attacks and heightened vigilance bordering on paranoia.

What was the incident that caused him to suffer from these mental hardships?

It was a single accident that put his best friend in the hospital with a collapsed lung.

His friend had recently bought a used AK-style firearm. The young man had spent a lot more time behind firearms than most his age, but he was unfamiliar with the AK. Standing in his friend’s house, he pulled back the charging handle to do a press check to ensure the chamber was empty and seeing nothing he released it.


The gun fired right as his friend walked between the barrel and the wall.

The young man wrestled with guilt over that incident for years despite his friend forgiving him and the police investigation finding that the previous owner had attempted to achieve something by filing down crucial fire control parts.

The young man was told by a therapist he had PTSD from that incident but, a few years later, he decided he wanted to serve so he enlisted in the U.S. Army infantry.

During his service, he still dealt with issues from that shooting. Nightmares, guilt and depression were constant. As a soldier, he began to drink heavily. There was hardly a day that went by that he didn’t drink until he passed out.

While serving he had two friends attempt suicide, one successfully. He also watched as a young 18-year-old tanker was rolled out of his room dead.

All those incidents happened at a time when he was not in a good place. He was recently injured in training which left him in significant pain. He fell deep into depression and nearly lost that fight. The nightmares had never stopped, the drinking intensified, he was now drinking during the workday and he was beginning to vent all his bottled-up emotions violently.

He was eventually medically retired from the Army. As a civilian, none of his issues eased up until 2021.

He had tried therapy a few times over the years with minimal success. He was tired of the weight of PTSD. In 2021, he heard about psilocybin, also known as “magic mushrooms,” being used by some vets suffering from PTSD and figured he ought to try them.

He began using them every two to three months over the next year, and each time was a different experience. Sometimes he felt unending happiness, sometimes it seemed to him that he was a soldier again doing something bigger than himself, and at other times he felt like he was fighting all those demons that haunted him. After a year of regular use, he no longer craved alcohol, the nightmares substantially slowed to less than once a month, and he no longer felt so burdened by past traumas.

He became a firm believer in the ability of mushrooms to ease the mental burden that others with PTSD, such as combat vets, may be experiencing.

Utah’s House Bill 167, passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Spencer Cox earlier this year, will enable research into the use of psychedelics to treat PTSD. It has the potential to save thousands of lives. There are already numerous examples of service members suffering from PTSD using psychedelics to ease their burden.

Don’t the men and women who sacrifice so much for our nation deserve every opportunity to heal? Our nation owes them at least that.

Bills like this one need to be passed in every state. Utah should be proud of its forward-thinking action to help our veterans.

Brandon Williamson is a U.S. Army veteran and the director of social media at Young Americans for Liberty. He lives in Wyoming.