PT335 – Christopher Dawson & Andrew Galloway – Modernizing Traditional Plant Medicine With Neuroscience and Luxury

In this episode, Joe interviews Christopher Dawson & Andrew Galloway: Co-Founders and CEO and COO, respectively, of Dimensions; a Canadian-based company creating retreats that blend traditional plant ceremonies with neuroscience and a luxurious, five-star environment.

Dawson realized what so many people were starting to learn about psychedelics after attending a 2015 conference in Peru that mixed neuroscientists with traditional healers, but for Galloway, it was direct experience, as he gives credit to plant medicines for helping him to heal from a 6-year addiction to crack cocaine. They each tell their story and how it led to the beginnings of Dimensions, where they worked for a year with a “Dreamlab” team of MDs, psychiatrists, practitioners from different fields, and even a design agency to create different programs for different substances – all with a focus on true set and setting and integrating perfectly with nature. They’re in the middle of a soft launch right now, offering cannabis in a ceremonial, group setting context to friends and families at their Algonquin Highlands location; perfecting everything before opening up to the general public. And once the law catches up with them, they hope to offer psilocybin and other psychedelic-assisted therapy across several new retreat locations. 

They talk about Health Canada and the country’s trajectory towards legal psychedelics; critiques of traditional addiction treatment and the efficacy of 12-step programs; the tension between the psychedelic space and traditional healing space; investing in biotech; the polyvagal theory; how animals deal with trauma (and how we don’t); and the concept of integration: If you’re just taking a pill and not doing the work, are you missing the point entirely?

Notable Quotes

“We’re biased (we’re in the retreat business), but I don’t think that psilocybin, as an example, should be reduced to a pill that you take with your juice in the morning and you no longer take your SSRI because this is your new pill. For us, it’s the psychedelic-assisted therapy that actually maximizes the potential of the psychedelic experience, and that’s the mechanisms through which fundamental, behavioral change can take place. I think the idea that a pill can replace all of that means that you’re kind of missing the point about the whole experience.” -Chris

“I don’t want to slam traditional treatment because it actually did work for me to some degree. …I had a crack-cocaine addiction for six-seven years and ended up in rehab for six months and came back and participated in 12-step programs and remained abstinent. That part worked. The difference for me when I got involved with plant medicine was something else: I got healed. Instead of just abstaining and not using to cope or to manage with whatever I was dealing with, I actually healed through plant medicine.” -Andrew

“Is it a pill or is it the therapeutic process? If you don’t engage in integration, then you’re just taking a pill.” -Chris

“We talked about stigma earlier; it’s changing, and [for] the general public, the stigma around the war on drugs is changing too. I think people have finally figured out that it doesn’t work. No war works. We only declare war on things that we can make money from.” -Andrew

Links Algonquin Highlands

Psychedelics Today: PT314 – Daniel McQueen, MA – Vital Psychedelic Conversations

Psychedelics Today: Canada’s SAP Expansion Signals a Step Forward for Psychedelics Dimensions + Queen’s University

National Library of Medicine: Psychedelic perceptions: mental health service user attitudes to psilocybin therapy What is the Polyvagal Theory?

Psychedelics Today: PT248 – Pierre Bouchard – Somatic Therapy, Trauma, and the Nervous System (more about the polyvagal theory)

About Christopher Dawson

Christopher Dawson is the Co-Founder and CEO of Dimensions, a growing collection of retreat destinations combining neuroscientific research with plant ceremony in immersive natural environments. Prior to co-founding Dimensions, Christopher was the founder and CEO of Edgewood Health Network, where he oversaw the largest private network of residential/outpatient treatment providers in Canada and led the merger and acquisition of Canada’s top three treatment centers to create that network.


About Andrew Galloway

Andrew Galloway is the Co-Founder and COO of Dimensions, a new paradigm for healing, combining ancient ceremonial plant medicines with modern science in safe, legal, and nurturing natural environments. He leads the organization’s clinical teams and operations for Dimensions Retreats, a new collection of immersive, transformational healing retreats combining neuroscientific research with plant ceremony and luxurious hospitality. Prior to co-founding Dimensions, he was a National Director of Edgewood Health Network; leading 10 outpatient centers. Andrew was the former VP at GreeneStone Muskoka, an international certified alcohol and drug counsellor, and has 14 years of experience working directly for the NHL/NHLPA substance abuse program.

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