Pass Senate Bill 519 to ease access to psychedelic treatments

During my professional football career, I had the privilege of playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. I even won a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots in the 2004.

I spent seven years in the NFL – more than twice the length of the average career – and while I loved the game, I also suffered countless injuries and concussions. After my seventh season, I decided to retire.

Almost immediately, I went into a physical and emotional spiral. After so many years of dedicating myself to the game, I felt lost and unsure of my purpose. I never knew what anxiety or depression was, and could not understand what I was going through. I would have anxiety attacks, began binge drinking, contemplated suicide, and would often spend days in bed at a time.

Beyond the mental trauma that I was facing, the physical trauma I had taken on from football left me with cluster headaches and forgetfulness. My health issues began to add up and I was diagnosed with both a traumatic brain injury from my football career and with pre-Parkinson’s Disease. I was left without a plan to even start addressing my mental and physical health.

Until I met my wife Jenny in 2015, I never had anyone talk to me about my mental and physical wellbeing. Jenny got me to my first doctor appointments in years and helped me realize that my mental health needed to be addressed. After my wife suffered a miscarriage, we both realized that we needed additional help to get through the pain and trauma we had both been burying. We consulted with our doctor and went through a series of options before we found psychedelic therapy, through ketamine infusions.

After my first ketamine treatment, I immediately felt a wave of relief. By my third treatment, I knew that this therapy was what I had been looking for. I thought I was at the point of no return, but psychedelic therapy gave me a second chance, and for the first time in years I finally felt optimistic for my future. With the help of psychedelic therapy, I was finally able to confront and address the physical and mental pain that had been creeping up on me for years.

Because of my experience with psychedelic therapies, I started the Bailey Collective to help former pro-athletes who are suffering from trauma and connect them with resources to help them emerge on the other side. After my experience with these treatments I became passionate about making psychedelic therapies accessible to those who need it most.

That’s why I am urging legislators to vote yes on Senate Bill 519, which would decriminalize psychedelics in California and open the door to these breakthrough treatments.

Through SB 519, California can begin the process for establishing safe therapeutic access to psychedelics through a licensed program.

This comes at a critical time as our country faces a mental health crisis, with suicide as one of the leading causes of death for Americans. Traditional treatments aren’t enough, and it’s time to make a meaningful investment in promising approaches.

Leading universities like Johns Hopkins University and University of California, Los Angeles, have found that psychedelic therapies can be effective in addressing depression, anxiety and PTSD that have been resistant to other treatments and medications. A recent study on MDMA even found that the treatment brought greater relief to those suffering from PTSD when paired with talk therapy.

It’s time for California to lead the way by decriminalizing psychedelics and allow access to these lifesaving treatments.

Rodney Bailey spent seven years in the NFL, playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, and the Arizona Cardinals. Rodney currently lives in Florida with his wife Jenny.

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