MAPS Rites of Passage Project:
The Passage from Life to Death

Confronting death can be one of our most meaningful experiences, as well as one of our most difficult. The following resources explore the potential of psychedelics and marijuana for those who are dying. Used carefully in a supportive setting, these substances have been shown to help people reach greater acceptance of their own mortality, transcend depression to reconnect with loved ones, and even find relief from physical pain. A number of studies have been conducted which explore psychedelic psychotherapy with terminally ill cancer patients, with powerful results. In Laura Huxley's This Timeless Moment, she tells the story of the most famous instance of psychedelics aiding the passage into death, when she administered LSD to Aldous Huxley as he lay dying.

Psychedelics may be able to help us enhance our understanding and acceptance of death. The materials on this page offer insights and information about their potential to deepen our experience of this final rite of passage.

Families and individuals who have used psychedelics with the dying
Research on psychedelic therapy with the terminally ill
Other resources


"Facing death is about the most painful situation anyone will ever encounter, and with pain comes fear and anger. These two emotions cause many different blocks in communication that make things worse for all involved. Taking these barriers away opens the people involved to more open and caring communication - which is what we experienced."
- Sue Stevens, who used MDMA with her boyfriend Shane while he was dying from cancer.

The following accounts are written by people who found psychedelics, particularly MDMA, useful in coping with terminal illness. Their stories highlight some of the benefits people have found using these substances, as well as the courage and compassion of those who tried such an unconventional approach to helping a loved one.


MDMA Dose Response Safety Study in Cancer Patients
This project is no longer active; however, you can view the project description and its proposed protocol. Dr. Grob is now designing a study to use psilocybin in the treatment of cancer patients. MAPS will initiate a study with MDMA in a hospice setting once MAPS' MDMA/PTSD study, approved by the FDA on November 2, 2001, is fully underway.

LSD-Assisted Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Cancer Patients
This project is currently under development.