#15 The Nuclear Option | Marcus & Amber Capone

December 1, 2020
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  • Marcus talks about his experience becoming a Navy SEAL and the implications of 9/11 on his combat tours (2:15)
  • In 2010 Marcus started to feel different and not himself: burnout, stressed out, anxiety, alcohol abuse. Family decided to relocate to San Diego for a fresh start – but things got worse (4:30)
  • Prescribed medications we not working, and treatment-resistant depression became one of several challenges – including brain trauma. (7:00)
  • His wife Amber found a small treatment center in Mexico, focused on using ibogaine as a therapeutic healing tool (7:30)
  • Amber talks about witnessing Marcus’s evolution as his partner and his journey after enlisting in the military. She provides context into their story, lifestyle, and implications of joining the service. In hindsight, Amber views it as vital to their lives (10:00)
  • After a friend passed, their MRI was released and showed a pattern of blast injury and CTE. Instantly, Amber found deep compassion for Marcus, and decided to fight for and with him (14:15)
  • In October 2017, Amber found one last possible treatment for Marcus as a last effort to save their marriage. Ibogaine saved Marcus (18:00)
  • Amber and Marcus looked to research and testimonials to get accustomed to using psychedelics as treatment. They are both from a conservative and Christian background (20:00)
  • Marcus realizes how telling his story can help so many others (23:00)
  • Amber discusses how her foundation of faith helped her fight back. No pity party anymore; solution and positivity focused (26:00)
  • Amber shares how her support of the psychedelic movement servs a higher purpose (29:00)
  • Marcus talks about his Ibogaine experience in detail. He understood why he started fighting (32:30)
  • Amber reveals that childhood trauma is a common thread in Vets who have gone through these psychedelic treatments (36:00)
  • Marcus talks about maintaining his mental health with ketamine, psilocybin, and DMT (38:00)
  • Amber found 3 main outcomes with treatment: 1) deep psychological purging 2) addiction disruption 3) return of neurological function (38:30)
  • How VETS has partnered with Stanford University to research Ibogaine therapy to help others (41:00)
  • They believe in the power of psychedelic healing and VETS provides grants for legal treatments in the USA (using ketamine), but also for other treatments, including ibogaine, DMT, psilocybin, MDMA, and ayahuasca in countries where these treatments are legal (43:40)
  • The pillars of VETS: 1 ) resources 2) research 3) advocacy. To date, they have proudly helped over 250 soldiers (44:00)
  • The SEAL community and the gift of healing; getting the narrative right (46:00)

Transcripts

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Marcus: [00:00:00] The medicine, there's no hiding from it. It shows you what you need to see because, you know, deep down when you're acting a certain way, if you have if you have a big ego, if you have to be a control room, you have to get the last word in all these things you call your ego that gets in the way. You can't hide from it. [00:00:20][19.8]

Amber: [00:00:20] To be able to take a situation that felt like the end of my life and to be able to bring it full circle and to give back and see. All along the way, you know, it's led us to where we are today, it is the most humbling gift that I could ever be given. [00:00:41][20.9]

Ronan: [00:00:47] This is Field Tripping, a podcast dedicated to exploring psychedelic experiences and their ability to affect our lives. I'm your host Ronan Levy. Marcus and Amber Capone are game-changers in psychedelic medicine. After seven tours in the United States Navy SEALs special operations, Marcus came home without realizing that something was seriously wrong. In the years after his service, Marcus began dealing with anxiety, depression and neurological damage that seemed too far to come back from. Marcus and Amber began searching for a solution. Traditional antidepressants, therapies and treatments weren't working. Then, Amber found a small treatment center in Mexico focused on using ibogaine as a therapeutic healing tool. From the moment Marcus had his first trip, his mind instantly reset and he got his life back. Today, Marcus and Amber are the founders of VETS formerly known as Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions. Their goal is to transform veteran health care by finding meaningful alternative solutions for mild traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress. [00:01:56][69.1]

Ronan: [00:02:01] Marcus and Amber, thank you so much for coming on the show today. [00:02:04][2.5]

Marcus: [00:02:05] Ronan, thanks for having us. [00:02:05][0.6]

Amber: [00:02:05] Thank you Ronan. Great to be here. [00:02:07][2.0]

Ronan: [00:02:08] Marcus, take us through the experience of being a SEAL and particularly coming out the other side and what led you to co-found VETS with Amber? When I enlisted it was prior to 9/11. So we had really no idea what we're about to embark on, I guess you want to say, or what was really going to happen. I mean, I entered the military to be a SEAL, not because I grew up in this environment of this patriotic household, but I just wanted to do something that was bigger and better and exciting. And I was in third phase of BUDS. BUDS is basic underwater demolition SEAL training, you start with about 175 guys, you end with about 30 and we had made it to third phase and that's when the towers came down. And they actually the instructors at that time allowed us to come into the building and watch actually the live video with a live feed of what was going on. We didn't know what was going on. We were students. We were tired. We almost thought it was a hoax. We thought this was like part of training. Then reality set in and the instructors kind of sat us down, talk to us and told us what was about to happen. We were going to go to war. And you could see it on all these instructors faces that they were they were definitely in a different place than we were students. We were just students trying to get through this rigorous training course. But the instructors had already been in the SEAL teams for well, for like 10 or 15 years, really knew it was happening because after 9/11, there really wasn't a whole lot of fighting going on maybe in the early nineties, but there really wasn't a war for a long time. And so I just remember the look on their faces and demeanor and these guys were for real. And we graduated. We went through advanced training, which is called SEAL Qualification Training, SQT. And then our class got split up. Half of us went to the East Coast and half of us went to the West Coast. And we started in our first platoons and we trained for two years and we all went on our first deployments. And from that point, I, I did seven combat tours. I went over to another place, Naval Special Warfare Development Group. And I'd say right around 2010 is when I started just experiencing some things that I don't think were normal to me. I didn't feel like Marcus anymore. I was super burnt out. I was really stressed out. I was having a lot of anxiety. I was forgetting a lot of things. I was drinking heavily. I was extremely stressed out and it was time for a break. And so just as a family, we decided, why don't we go to the West Coast for a couple of years and I'll become an instructor and we'll just we'll take a break and, you know, assess from there. And we did that. So we were in Virginia Beach for ten years and then we moved to San Diego and it was great. That's actually when things started getting worse. And one of the guys that I worked with, he said, why don't you go see the command psychologist? You know, you're depressed, you're angry, you're isolating. And so I went talk to the psych and they sent me to a brain clinic, and that's when I first got prescribed my first antidepressant. And also something to help me sleep and then also something to help me focus. So and from there, I think just things got worse. There's a new book out, but it's about the pandemic of antidepressants and how they can make a person worse than what they were were to a point of where it's unfixable, including like making them if they have bipolar, making them get to a point of of having bipolar where they can't reverse that effect. So for me, taking antidepressants were were bad. They weren't helping me at all. They made me they made me worse. And God forbid, if I forgot one a day or two, I mean, it was like, you want to crawl up the wall. One of the worst experiences ever. Side effects of some of those medications are high risk of suicide, suicidality, you know, who knows what these things are doing us. But for me, it was just, you know, they didn't work. So obviously had diagnosed with major depressive disorder or treatment-resistant depression where, you know, it just started spiraling and it started getting worse. And so, went to another brain clinic, had my brain scanned, not just through MRIs, I had some SPEC scans done to see what the volume of my brain was like. Had some come back in the last couple of years where it started showing, I had markers for everything, post-traumatic stress, major depressive disorder, high anxiety, bipolar too. Scared the crap out of me, honestly, what are you supposed to think right when the brain doctor comes and says, oh, by the way, here you go, this is what you got. And I think the more you get told of the issues you have and you start thinking about the problems that you have, so it just exasperates everything. So now you have some brain trauma and then you do have some anxiety and depression and now you're just getting more because they're just telling you this is what you have to do for the rest of your life. And finally, thank goodness Amber and a doctor at the time, they were working the background to figure this out and they lucky enough found a clinic in Mexico that were treating, I guess, some veterans for post-traumatic stress and the doctor I believe, you know thought, well, every time that these guys are going through a treatment, they come out of the treatment with zero post-traumatic stress, zero depression, zero anxiety. So what it is, is, as you know, psychedelic-assisted therapy. And there's a lot of different medicines out there that we can use. The one that I was introduced to, which we joke about now, which is called the nuclear option, was ibogaine. Wow, what a journey. But what I didn't know is that there are a lot of levels of psychedelic-assisted therapy, usually like iboga or ibogaine is not the one that people go to first. [00:08:40][392.3]

Ronan: [00:08:42] Yeah.. you went big. [00:08:43][0.4]

Marcus: [00:08:43] But the nuclear option is what special operations guys need, right? Because at the end of the day, we are not like everyone else. And for our guys to do that job takes a certain individual. So, to take that individual and now make make that person right again, you need that. Also, that extra special medicine, that extra special medicine is definitely ibogaine and Ronan it, man, it radically changed my life. It stopped the bleeding. Put the turning kit on and it got me to start looking at things differently. I definitely hit some speed bumps since then, but what that experience did was get me on the right path that I can always revert back to that experience forever. [00:09:33][50.2]

Ronan: [00:09:36] Thank you for sharing that, Amber, I'm very curious to know what it was like being in your shoes, like even from the get go of Marcus making the decision. I'm sure it was both of you. So excuse the language of joining the military. How did you feel about that? What was it like watching his evolution? Not necessarily in a positive sense, going through the military, coming through the military, through to 2010. You know, when I guess Marcus recognized in himself that he wasn't feeling himself. My guess is you probably saw things changing incrementally up to that point. [00:10:15][38.8]

Amber: [00:10:16] Well, it's been nothing like what I had envisioned it would be because we've been together since I was 17 and he was 20, and we had amicably decided to part ways when he decided to go into the military and unlike Marcus, I came from a very patriotic family where, like my great grandmother had five brothers and three of them were killed in World War Two, but all five served. And so I grew up with this really deep appreciation for the military, but I didn't think that it was something that I ever want to be involved with. So when he decided to enlist, I thought it was a really great time for me to, you know, just be a young lady and do what I want to do. And then I found out that we were expecting our son. And so within a one year period, I went from being a college sophomore to being a mother, a wife and supporting Marcus while he went through BUDS training. And then, of course, there was 9/11. So, you know, it was a really wild year. I had no idea what we were getting into. I was just trying to make the next right decision. And so, you know, what I see now, 20 years later is that it is the biggest blessing of my life. And it is I feel like, the purpose of my life. And to be able to take a situation that felt like the end of my life and to be able to bring it full circle and to give back and see all along the way, you know, led us to where we are today. It is the most humbling gift that I could ever be given. Yeah, it was nothing like I thought it would be. But I feel like, you know, my motto all along was, if someone else can do it, I can do it. If there's a, you know, another spouse that can figure it out, I can figure it out. And so I did that. And that dysfunction became our normal. As we tried to become a family, a normal family, it was increasingly difficult to even understand what that looked like. So Marcus was struggling, we were struggling. We had spent so much time apart that we really didn't even know each other. And you know, our kids learned that dysfunction. And so as the years ticked by and deaths increased through, you know, we've been to so many war funerals and, you know, that seemed normal to us. But what a family does on a weekend didn't. So, as we all were just reeling in this transition, Marcus started struggling to a point that I thought, I don't know if this is going to work. And at that time, I'd been with him for over half my life and he was my life. His dreams became my life and I couldn't imagine myself detaching from him. I never wanted that. But at the same time. You know, I had to think about our kids, and so at that time they were teenagers and our son was acting out a lot, which was very difficult for Marcus and for our relationship. And our daughter was also having you know, a lot of just challenges with the way our life was. And so she said to me one night, how much longer do we have to do this? And I just said, not one more day. At that point, I started trying to get Marcus into all these different brain clinics. During the height of our struggles, a friend's brain autopsy was released in the community and it showed that he had a pattern of blast injury from weapons, fire, explosions, IEDs, whatever. The term CTE was also thrown around, which is chronic traumatic encephalopathy. So what you commonly hear NFL players diagnosed with and those are both degenerative in nature, but it was also a bit of a death sentence, it seemed, and nobody wanted to talk about that. So overnight I became one hundred percent more compassionate for Marcus, because even though he was struggling and our family was suffering, I suddenly felt like maybe this struggle is beyond his control. There's no amount of guilt, threats, shaming, criticizing that I can load on him that he isn't already feeling tenfold. And so I just decided to come alongside him and fight for him. Now, he didn't have that same level of compassion because he was very much in survival mode, but he agreed to go to brain clinics and I had a Westernized approach initially. So I didn't believe in the pharmaceuticals necessarily. But I thought, well, surely if this is a brain condition and not an emotional or psychological condition, a brain clinic can help with that. And one here, another there really wasn't doing the trick. So it was becoming clear to me that I couldn't continue to take my kids on this journey, even though I wanted to help Marcus and I was compassionate for him. It was not sustainable. And so I had visited him in a brain clinic. He was actually three different places simultaneously, and he was worse than ever. And I left. I left without even telling him. I got on a plane and I went back to our home in Texas. My mom was with my kids and I conference called my dad, who was Marcus' football coach and he always said to me, you don't quit anything. And so, you know, all along, all those years were deployments were tough and living the life of a SEAL spouse was tough. That's sometimes what kept me going. I just my dad, you know, don't quit. And I called him with my mom there with me. And I told them that I had decided to quit. And I knew what that meant for Marcus. It was like a death sentence in itself. I knew that he needed the stabilization of a family and me in particular, just if I removed myself from his life, I felt like he was a dead man. And I told them that. I said he's probably got two years left and I'm just working right now on my plan to leave and forgiving myself for the inevitable. I don't know what that looks like. I don't know if he'll take his own life. I don't know. He'll drive drunk and get in a bar fight. You know, someone will kill him, he'll kill someone. I don't know. But I know it's not going to end well. And, you know, it was coming to the realization of that when I remembered one other SEAL who had done this therapy outside of the US. And I thought, if I can get him to agree to this, then I will know I really have tried everything. He was running out of funding at the brain clinic that he was at, he needed to come home. So at that point, I just pretty much gave him an ultimatum. This was in September or October of 2017. I said, if you try this one more thing, you can come home. And he agreed to do it. He had heard about it in the past, but it just seemed too weird to unknown to him and he didn't think it would work. We were also more comfortable with the medical, you know, a Western feel. Then this felt so like just such a roll of the dice. So he came home and that month between him being home and him receiving ibogaine therapy. It was brutal. I was just basically begging him, like, please keep holding on. And, you know, he he left for experience. And I just remember taking him to the airport and getting on the plane and being like, that's it. I've put it all on the table, I have nothing else. And so, when it worked, I was completely blown away. [00:18:58][522.0]

Ronan: [00:18:59] Wow, that's intense. I don't even know how to describe it. Growing up in a patriotic American family where I imagine attitudes to drugs were fairly negative. How much of a hurdle was it to be like? All right. I began therapy, psychedelics, like, you know, there's like the natural like were tuned into Western medicine and certainly doesn't fit within the standard of what we're used to and was there any sort of hiccup there? I'm curious to know Amber, your thoughts and Marcus, what your thoughts were at that point as well? [00:19:30][30.6]

Amber: [00:19:30] At that time, I felt so desperate that I would have tried anything and I really didn't even put a lot of thought into it. But you're right, I grew up in a very conservative Christian household, and this was a complete, it was completely buffet. At that point, I felt like I had nothing to lose. And when when I encounter naysayers now or doubters or anyone that maybe was raised like me, I just say, you know, count your blessings. If you've never loved someone so much that you're willing to try anything to save them, then you are absolutely abundantly blessed. [00:20:11][41.3]

Marcus: [00:20:12] Yeah, I think Amber what did it take me a year? I think it was almost a year for me to, to commit to it, because I think we had spoken about it, but I never thought it was serious, I thought I was one of those things where, oh yes, it's it's not real, it's out there. I've heard about this, but, you know, I'll never have the opportunity to do it or it just sounds a little bit crazy to me. Yeah, I didn't understand it initially, so it took me time to really do my research, do my reading, understand what actually was happening here. But I still wasn't convinced and I really wasn't convinced right until the very end where I was at another brain clinic and I was just so fed up with nothing working. Like I just thought this is how I was going to be for the next 40 or 50 years, that I'm going to continuously go to these brain clinics and to take medication. I may get a little bit better. I may have some days of clarity and happiness and then more days of grief and depression. And I said then I'm not gonna be able to go through this forever. And so I remember us having an argument and just going, you know what, I'll go try this thing, because who in their right mind thinks that if you used to take this one pill, it's going to change the way you think for the rest of your life? Of course, we know there's a lot more to it than just take the pill. [00:21:29][76.5]

Ronan: [00:21:30] Can you help me understand, like, what it was like in your head? And I'm going to ask the same question of you, Amber, which is like you talk about the struggle and there's no doubt in my mind that the struggle was real. But, can you translate that into, like, instances that people could understand? Like, what did it feel like to be in your head, Marcus? And where was it different from you were before enlisting in the SEALs and Amber, the same thing, which was like, how did this play out in your relationship, in the family dynamic? Because I'm sure it was extremely traumatic. [00:22:05][35.3]

Marcus: [00:22:06] I think initially it was terrifying. First off, just as an active-duty special operations guy, like we don't talk about what we did, we don't talk about what we do. There's a code there right? And that was the hardest, and still the hardest part for me is that am I doing something that breaks the code because the community is so important, was so important and is so important to us. And, you know, I don't want to be the guy out there beating my chest and saying, look at me. And so I've had to convince myself and really it was through that me was others that I worked with saying you have to do this is just really just telling people like, hey, I struggled and this is what we did to figure it out. And so if that can help, which has helped over 250 guys now, just by me telling my story, it's nothing special. I'm not special. I have guys that have done twice and three times as many combat deployments as I did. And so, I mean, simple stuff like not being able to get out of bed in the morning. I mean plenty of times, Amber, I mean how many times did you go through just like me just literally lying in bed, go. I can't get up, I can't go to work. I don't want to do anything at all. I just want to sit here because nothing is going to change. I'm no good at anything right? Like, I was a really good SEAL at one point in my life when I was actually like with it right? And then I was a decent athlete at one point in my life, but not anymore right? And so what's the worth? You really start losing the want to do anything. So like I used to love to workout. I used to love to surf, I used to love to play golf. And so that's the part that I think resonates with most people, because many of the guys that I talk to, many of my buddies or just others that are very interested in this say, hey, I identify what you're saying, like, I have no more passion for anything, I have no more confidence, you know I even struggle with stuff like that now in the private sector as a quote on quote business guy. I just don't feel like I have the confidence to deal with the other parties because, you know, when I was a CEO, I felt like I was at the top of my game there and I had confidence in doing whatever I wanted, wherever I wanted. But now, now I just feel like I could be down on a regular basis. [00:24:29][143.6]

Ronan: [00:24:30] That triggers a whole bunch of responses, particularly from men, you know who through out kind of modern history. We've always been considered the provider, you know, and we define our self-worth by our ability to provide. And if you can't do that and if you can't perform at the top of your game, not only does it make you feel like crap, but it also starts to challenge your sense of identity and your sense of self-worth. And so you can see how that becomes a very, very powerful negative cycle. Certainly that's not specific to men, but it seems more common to the male experience in this world. Amber, what was it like on your side? Listening to Marcus talk, I can imagine how frustrating and challenging it must be to to be in the shoes of a partner to someone who is like that. [00:25:18][47.7]

Amber: [00:25:19] Luckily I was raised with a foundation of faith that is so important to me and I feel like for everyone to have a connection with something bigger than them is such a critical piece of withstanding those times. And so as our life was spiraling out of control, I was leaning in and if I hadn't done that, I don't know where my head space would have been and I don't know what the outcome would have been. But I fought back, I fought back in a spiritual realm and I put all of my energy into that. And so I, I have worked significantly at improving my mindset my neural pathways and that was a really huge sustaining factor in being able to withstand those times. I did not have a pity party for myself, I stopped talking to my friends about this situation or that situation. Can you believe what he did? No, no one could believe it, but that's what I was attracting because that's what I was talking about. And so I became one thousand percent solution-focused and positivity focused. And I just refuse to be drugged down into the mire. So as Marcus would spiral more into the darkness, I was searching, searching, searching for more light. And my light was able to overcome his darkness in so many ways, in so many circumstances. So my headspace remains pretty clear. I basically stopped life during the worst parts and it wasn't to have a breakdown. It was to have a breakthrough. [00:27:11][111.7]

Ronan: [00:27:11] The way you were talking about, like clearing your neural pathways and all that kind of stuff. You know, it sounds like language of people who do have psychedelic experiences as well and feel free to not answer this question and we can edit it out if you don't want it out there. But has this experience opened you up to trying psychedelic therapies? Because for me personally, like I may have been depressed at some points in my life, I may have had like a mental health diagnosis that could have been diagnosed, but I never did. But by and large, my path to psychedelics and metaphysics and this whole sphere has been just on a quest to enhance my life and develop deeper understanding and be more empathetic and be more creative and just curious to know if you have had psychedelic therapy or psychedelic experiences. [00:27:58][47.0]

Amber: [00:27:59] This is a question that I get asked frequently, and it's always an interesting reaction when I say no, I have not had a psychedelic experience myself. I feel like the reasons for that are two or three fold at minimum, but primarily I don't feel called to do that. I have other spiritual practices that are super important in my life and I feel that psychedelics are a vessel to get to a higher understanding of self, of creator, of you know why we're all here? And I am absolutely tapping into to understanding that and that understanding I can find within myself. And I haven't needed external things to assist, at least not yet. Now, if I ever feel called to do that, I know firsthand from seeing the power and there are certainly times that I can look back on in my life and say that would have been a really great time for a really powerful psychedelic experience. But right now I don't feel called to do that. And then there's also the element of just understanding the brevity of this movement, especially as it pertains to veterans. And this is just the beginning. And so I feel like as we're in this kind of really slow, awkward dance with lawmakers, legislators, policy makers, whatever, I don't want them to ever be like, oh, they just drink the Kool-Aid. They all drink the Kool-Aid. They're crazy. Like, just forget them, because I'm just as convicted about these therapies, never having done them. And I can't be lumped into that category. And I feel like that's serving a higher purpose right now. [00:29:55][115.3]

Ronan: [00:30:01] For those of you who have, listened to the podcast so far, you'll know that Tom Robbins features prominently in how I see and think and perceive the world. And I can tell you the exact moment that his philosophy sunk its teeth into me and hasn't let go. I was lying in bed reading Still Life with Woodpecker and happened upon the following paragraph. [00:30:21][20.4]

Ronan: [00:30:23] "How can one person be more real than any other? Well, some people do hide and others seek. Maybe those who are in hiding, escaping encounters, avoiding surprises, protecting their property, ignoring their fantasies, restricting their feelings, sitting out the panpipe, hoochie coochie of experience. Maybe those people, people who won't talk to rednecks or if they're rednecks, won't talk to intellectuals, people who are afraid to get their shoes muddy or their noses wet, afraid to eat what they crave, afraid to drink Mexican water, afraid to bet a long shot to win, afraid to hitchhike, jaywalk, honkytonk, cogitate, oscillate, levitates, rock it, pop it, or bark at the moon. Maybe such people are simply inauthentic and maybe the jack let humanist who says differently is due to have his tongue fried on the hot slabs of liars hell. Some folks hide and some folks seek and seeking when it's mindless, neurotic, desperate or pusillanimous can be a form of hiding. But there are folks who want to know and aren't afraid to look and won't turn tail should they find it. And if they never do, they'll have a good time anyway, because nothing, neither the terrible truth nor the absence of it, is going to cheat them out of one honest breath of earth's sweet gas.". [00:31:36][72.5]

Ronan: [00:31:36] Although this podcast is still relatively young, there isn't a person whose experiences are more fitting for this quote than Marcus and Amber. Two people whose upbringings put them into some of the most extreme of perspectives from highly religious upbringings, in the case of Amber, to the discipline and rigor and chain of command thinking and the SEALs for Marcus. And yet both people whose upbringings would peg them as being the most unlikely advocates for psychedelics are now two of the most respected, vocal and thoughtful advocates who left the hiding of what they had been taught and stepped both footed into a much more real life. [00:32:15][39.1]

Ronan: [00:32:17] Tell us what it was like to get on that plane. I'm very curious to know what the experience of going and having the ibogaine therapy and I'd be really interested to know, like what? What you saw? What you experienced while on the ibogaine as well? [00:32:32][14.6]

Marcus: [00:32:32] It was a revisit of my life. I went back to my childhood and I saw things when I was a child, you know, with my mother and my father. Also was a defragging of the mind and I actually watched my life or if you want to call it, get filed. I mean, literally, I watched it like folder's flipping together. You can you see all these images, you know, shooting past you in a row and you start to hear a bit of a buzzing in your ears. And I think this is ibogaine or iboga experience specifically. You start getting a little bit warm and the buzzing starts to kind of move around now, almost like three dimensional. And then, you know, you slowly, slowly go into the experiences where you start having these, these visions. And my ibogaine experience was very dark. I mean, I saw some really deep, dark, disturbing things that I was either, had experienced in my life that was causing a blockage potentially in my subconscious, that it was affecting the way I was treating Amber, treating the kids, treating my life, the medicine, there's no hiding from it. It shows you what you need to see because, you know, deep down, when you're acting a certain way, if you have you know, if you have a big ego, if you have to be a control room, you have to get the last word in all these things you call your ego that gets in the way. You can't hide from it during your experience. You're going a hundred percent, face it. And you're going to see how that's affecting you during your experience and when you see how it's affecting other people, you realize that you shouldn't be doing that anymore. And so you come out of your experience kinda just reset, energized. So I think growing up, I was put in a school early and so I was always the younger kid going up against older kids. And I was younger, probably weaker. And so even though I was a great athlete, I was still a kid. And so I was constantly picked on and kind of, I don't want to say abused, but I was like picked on. And then that carried on into college until my freshman year where I actually put on like 40 pounds of muscle. And from there I started fighting. Everybody and everything, because I think from years of being on the receiving end of abuse, it was my turn. And then I felt always like, hey, you know what? Maybe I should use these, this aggression and anger into something. And I thought, what not that would be the SEAL teams right there looking for, quote on quote, warriors and I might as well put my just anger into that. And some of my deep, dark experiences during ibogaine was a lot of like very violent fighting and cutting and knifing and punching. I think it just kind of if you want to call it the drug and medicine, like, beat that out of me. [00:35:48][195.1]

Amber: [00:35:48] Just going to add, you know, without disclosing anyone's identities, obviously. I, a lot of the veterans that have come through our pipeline do share with me, and I have been absolutely astounded by the significance or the instances of childhood trauma. Which maybe shouldn't come as a surprise, I don't know if that's what it takes to make a really great SEAL. But I feel like this is an opportunity to break generational lineage type behavior. And so I've seen it happen with Marcus and our own son. And so I'm praying that that cycle is not going to repeat itself with our son's son and his son's son or daughter or whatever, and continue because Marcus has stepped up to the plate to break that. [00:36:41][52.7]

Ronan: [00:36:41] Absolutely. That's huge. It's one of the things that, like, I'm a big believer in the concept of like my mapmaking, which is like if you change yourself, you know, it's a cliche, you're... Ghandi quoted about it, like if you want to change the world, change yourself. But when you get into the metaphysics of it, when you really start to dig deep into it and psychedelics definitely opens people's eyes to it, it's like when you do change yourself, you have actually changed the entire world and future generations of those around you. Marcus, have you done any psychedelic therapy since the ibogaine therapy? [00:37:14][33.0]

Marcus: [00:37:15] I have, I'm a proponent of it now, I think it should be done regularly for some people. I think it's person by person. Again, so I think it's like everything else. If I take ibuprofen because I have a headache, you may need Tylenol and ibuprofen doesn't work for you. Well, what Amber and I realized is I need a reset, whether that's once a year or twice a year. I've had several ketamine assisted therapies, which I think are you said phenomenal for certain ideations, you just can't get out of your mind. I've done a psilocybin assisted therapy, I was just having some struggles at the moment, at the time. And my therapist said, hey, I'm available. I think that this would really benefit you. I've had a few, five MEO DMT sessions. There's still a few things I want to experience. [00:38:05][50.4]

Ronan: [00:38:06] Can you talk about some of the things you found, Amber, in terms of the science? And then I'd love to hear about how this experience translated into VETS and where you hope to go with VETS. [00:38:17][10.2]

Amber: [00:38:17] By the time we found ibogaine, we didn't know what we were really getting into or what we were in for. We were just that desperate and so I noticed three key components that were addressed after the experience. That was a deep psychological purging for Marcus. It was also a complete addiction disrupter, ibogaine is typically used for addiction disruption, even though he may not have a full blown alcoholic, he definitely had substance abuse disorder with alcohol, and that was gone. The third component of his ibogaine experience was the return of his neurological functioning. Prior to ibogaine, he was almost reminding me of my grandmother, who had recently passed from Alzheimer's when she was first diagnosed. I watched him try to wrap a Christmas tree and he couldn't figure out where the lights plugged in to one another, to the wall where did it start, where did it stop? It was terrifying. And he was embarrassed by that. It was like there is just this brain circuitry issue where he just wasn't making the connection. He was also forgetting people's names, forgetting where he was driving, forgetting we're getting really, really important conversations that we had had about specific topics. And then a day or two later, it was like we never talked about it before. It was terrifying to me. So knowing what had been disclosed to the community about this brain autopsy, that blast scarring was becoming more concerning. CTE had been thrown around. I knew that it was more of than PTSD, it was more than a psychological condition, there was a physiological component that seemed to have been at least somewhat addressed. And so I just was like, someone, please listen to me. There is something that has happened on a physiological level here. And luckily, we were connected with the researcher at Stanford who basically validated my hypothesis, like, yeah, ibogaine has very unique properties to promote the growth of nucleo cells in the brain. So we have a partnership with Stanford to look at SEALS or special operations soldiers who are choosing to have ibogaine therapy, and they're looking at physiological markers as well as the psychological assessments prior to ibogaine and post ibogaine. [00:40:56][158.7]

Marcus: [00:40:57] I mean, what started VETS was the weekend I had my treatment. After I was done, I saw Amber in the hallway and we just embraced and I said, hey, we have to share, like everybody needs to know about this. And whatever we need to do to tell our friends, tell our team, my teammates, that we're struggling and everybody else who's struggling, whether they're athletes or people who were in a car accident and they had mild traumatic brain injury from it, like they need to know what's out there. And so we just said, hey, we got to go raise money, we got to start a nonprofit, we got to start helping people. And that was basically the conversation. [00:41:32][34.9]

Amber: [00:41:33] And it was very challenging for us to even think about putting ourselves out there, because it really is the antithesis of the community. The ones that you see out front are in an individualized capacity, is typically very shunned. And so it was a lot for us to think about that and a lot for us to share openly and in complete vulnerability. Because the other thing is you don't talk about your struggles. And I can tell you on my end, like when I talk to these families day in and day out, everyone's struggle is exactly the same. And so and we also didn't want to put our reputations on something that may or may not work. So we were initially leading a grassroots movement and we were proving the concepts. The first goal was 12 other SEALs in a 12 month period and then we would set a new goal.At the eleven and a half month mark, one of my best friend's husbands took his life and I was sitting in the chapel of his funeral. And I looked around and I saw the faces of guys that I had seen and their spouses at every funeral that I had ever been to, and they were older and they had more medals and they were everyone's eyes were just like, if this can happen to Chad, this could happen to any of us. And I just remember thinking, like, we don't have a choice. We have to speak out, because that was the first suicide funeral that I had been to. And I didn't know how to sit with it, but I knew that I needed to do whatever I could to do something about it so that this didn't become the new normal, that we didn't have to go to this chapel. For anything other than war funerals, and we just decided we're just going to do whatever it takes to make a difference in our community and the broader veteran community in the world, whatever that looks like, we're just trusting, I'm trusting that same guiding force that has gotten me here. And our organization is is now set up to provide grant funding for veterans seeking psychedelic-assisted therapies in countries where they're legal. So, of course, in the US, that's only ketamine. But other approved uses for funds would be ibogaine or iboga, five MEO DMT, psilocybin, MDMA and ayahuasca. We believe in the power of psychedelic healing. And the three pillars of our organization are resources, so that veterans can seek these therapies, research from all of the outcomes from our grant recipients, and advocacy. And over the course of the last three years since Marcus' treatment, we have been able to raise the funding to support to right around 250 SEAL and special operations soldiers to date. [00:44:39][185.9]

Ronan: [00:44:39] It's amazing, congratulations. Was there any pushback? You know, I know there's a lot of internal consternation about how is this going to be received? How are you going to be viewed on that kind of stuff? But has the process has been smooth? [00:44:55][15.7]

Amber: [00:44:56] You know Ronan, I have to say, I feel like there is a force so much bigger than us propelling us. It's been absolutely knock on wood, effortless, it has just happened. In the exact right time and the exact right way, whether it's opportunities or paths that have crossed, it's been the most beautiful thing. And so I'm just trusting. We've gotten some pushback, of course, from naysayers or skeptics, but we've kept a very, very low profile. We've only come out of the shadows, so to speak, in 2020. And of course, 2020 has been such a weird year. But we've purposely just kept it very quiet out of respect for how the SEAL community tends to operate. But we realize that we can't, we can't keep it a secret forever. When 250 individuals or families have received this gift of healing, they start to talk. And so we've run the risk of not getting the narrative right or not or creating confusion as to what we do. So as we speak out more about this, I think that even the naysayers will change their minds because we just really, we just want to help. [00:46:13][76.7]

Ronan: [00:46:13] That's great. I mean, I think it reflects both the need and the urgency, but I also think it reflects the passion and integrity and authenticity. You both are bringing to this. So it's it's both relieving and encouraging to know that the path so far has been relatively smooth. [00:46:33][19.2]

Amber: [00:46:33] Thank you, Ronan. [00:46:34][0.5]

Marcus: [00:46:34] Thanks, Ronan. [00:46:35][1.6]

Ronan: [00:46:36] Thank you so much for both for joining us today. It's really been a great conversation. [00:46:39][3.5]

Marcus: [00:46:40] Thank you for setting this up. [00:46:41][1.0]

Ronan: [00:46:45] Marcus and Amber story is truly inspiring and can lend hope to anyone experiencing the repercussions of PTSD. Here are three key takeaways from our conversation. First, it is always important to keep an open mind. Marcus and Amber are two of the more unlikely advocates for psychedelics. Yet, here they are and their open mindedness literally saved their marriage and quite possibly Marcus' life. Psychedelics are a tool to access greater awareness, but they are only one tool. One of the most important things I was reminded of in this conversation is that there are other paths as well, and Amber's experience is a perfect example of that. Lean into your intuition and trust it. Amber did and continues to do so, and it's made a world of difference to their lives. Finally, it's never too late to have a happy childhood, even though we didn't go too deeply into it. Marcus' acknowledgment about how his childhood experiences put him on the path he eventually chose is important to his personal growth and evolution. And pursuing further exploration of this path will help him on his future growth. [00:47:56][70.9]

Ronan: [00:48:04] Thank you for listening to Field Tripping, a podcast dedicated to exploring psychedelic experiences and their ability to affect our lives. I'm your host, Ronan Levy. Until next time, stay curious. Breathe properly. And remember, every day is a field trip if you let it be one. Field Tripping is created by Ronan Levy and produced by Conrad Page. Our researcher is Sharon Bella. Special thanks to Quill. And of course, many thanks to Marcus and Amber Capone for joining me today. To learn more about their initiatives, check out vetsolutions.org. Finally, subscribe to our podcast and sign up for our newsletter at fieldtripping.fm. [00:48:04][0.0]

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About Ronan

An entrepreneur and a visionary, Ronan is one the founders of Field Trip – with a mission to bring the world to life through psychedelics and psychedelic-enhanced psychotherapy. Concurrent with his work at Field Trip, he is a partner at Grassfed Ventures, a venture capital and advisory firm focused on the cannabis and biotech industries and is Chief Strategy Officer and Member of the Board of Directors for Trait Biosciences Inc., a leading biotech company in the hemp and cannabis industries. Prior to his current roles, Ronan co-founded Canadian Cannabis Clinics and CanvasRx Inc., the latter of which was acquired by Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NYSE: ACB) in 2016, after which he served as Senior Vice President, Business and Corporate Affairs for Aurora. A lawyer by training, Ronan started his career as a corporate lawyer at Blake, Cassels Graydon LLP and Legal Counsel at CTVglobemedia Inc. (now Bell Media Inc.) He holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Commerce degree, both from the University of Toronto.