Former Pro Athletes Are Treating Depression With Psychedelics

It sure seems like a growing trend

Riley Cote
Riley Cote in 2010.
Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

As the popularity of psychedelics for therapeutic reasons increases, several narratives have taken shape — including the decriminalization of certain substances in certain jurisdictions and the growth of tourism related to psychedelics. One that fewer people might have seen coming is the growing number of professional athletes past and present who are looking to psychedelics to treat their physical and mental health.

Last year, Kenny Stills made headlines when he discussed his psychedelic use, making him the first active NFL player to do so. Now, ESPN has written about a recent retreat to Jamaica where a host of athletes took psychedelic mushrooms to address depression and — in some cases — the lingering effects of concussions.

At the center of this retreat was former Flyers player Riley Cote, who ESPN reports now has an equity stake in the company running the event, Wake Network. “I think these are spiritual medicines, and I just feel like it’s the right path for me,” Cote told ESPN. “I don’t think of it as anything more than my duty, my purpose on this planet is to be sharing the truth around natural medicine.”

It isn’t surprising to see more and more athletes looking into psychedelic treatments. Plenty has been written about the psychological effects of retirement on athletes — and that’s not even addressing the physical effects that a career spent boxing or playing football or hockey might have on someone’s body. (Athletes in all three camps were represented in the retreat ESPN covered.)

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The extent to which psychedelics can help current and former athletes remains to be seen — and is also inexorably linked with questions of various psychedelics’ legality in the United States and elsewhere. But it seems as though change is in the air, and the real question might be the speed at which that change is taking place.

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