From Darkness to Light: How a Former Marine Used Psychedelics to Reclaim His Life

In our episode with Justin Lapree, a valiant Marine, served his nation diligently between 2001 to 2005. His deployment to Iraq in 2004, however, proved to be a transformative period, forever etching a mark of turmoil within him. But what happened next in his life journey wasn't just about surviving the harrowing experiences of war. Instead, it encompassed a struggle for mental wellbeing and the ultimate transformation that brings hope to countless others today.

Returning home after an honorable discharge in 2005, Lapree faced a different kind of battle. Plagued by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, moral injury, and survivors' guilt, he was stuck in a downward spiral. These lingering psychological scars, he learned, were the lasting imprint of his years spent on the battleground.

Lapree moved to New York City in winter 2005, finding solace in an opiate-induced haze that helped numb his internal agony. However, the journey to recovery was steep and lined with hurdles. Homelessness, months of fruitless job hunting, and near-starvation led him to a veterans' halfway house on Long Island.

While his life seemed to stabilize as he carved out a seven-year career on Wall Street, the ghosts of his past continued to haunt him. A blend of anti-depressants, stimulants, downers, and sleep medication became his daily regimen, but the relief was temporary and the side effects unbearable.

In 2017, he took up the role of a firefighter in Austin, hoping that the teamwork and camaraderie would provide a sense of purpose. However, a divorce in 2018 saw him struggling to meet ends meet, feeling isolated and spiraling into a deep depression once again.

In a haunting encounter with death, Lapree came close to ending his life. An anonymous savior, a guardian angel, saved him at the brink of self-destruction. It was at this pivotal point that Lapree was introduced to a transformative book, "How to Change Your Mind" by Michael Pollan.

This book shifted his perspective, sparking an interest in the healing potentials of psychedelics. Inspired by the insightful podcast of Dr. Andrew Huberman, Lapree embarked on a path of self-discovery, exploring the wonders of entheogenic sacraments like Psilocybe Cubensis.

After two years of personal exploration and numerous psychedelic encounters, Lapree reported a monumental shift in his state of mind. He was free from anxiety and depression and had found peace with the traumatic events of his past.

Despite these therapeutic breakthroughs, Lapree's role as a firefighter kept exposing him to traumatic situations, forcing him to resign in 2022. With newfound purpose, Lapree then initiated a non-profit organization, the Heroic Path to Light, aimed at helping fellow veterans and first responders navigate their mental health struggles.

Justin Lapree's story is a testament to resilience and hope, portraying a transformative journey from the depths of despair to the heights of mental liberation. It shows that even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, there are routes to healing and hope.

Discover how he triumphed over adversity and used the lessons from his struggle to help others battling the same demons on the incredible episode of Crackin Backs podcast.


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