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How Toad Venom Changed Mike Tyson's Perspective on Life

The former heavyweight champ opens up about his experiences with psychedelics and the impact they've had on his life.

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This story originally appeared on Lucid News

Mike Tyson attributed his return to boxing to 5-MeO-DMT, a psychedelic derived from toad venom, in a recent interview before his first match in 15 years. 

Donald Kravitz | Getty Images

“I took the medicine and the medicine told me to get into shape,” he told an interviewer on the day of the official weigh-in, as reported by USA Today. “It really blew my mind. It told me to come back and start getting in shape.”

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In a 2019 profile, Tyson tells GQ that he felt ready for toad venom due to his previous acid experience (which he tried for the first time at 11 years old). It quickly became clear to him that the toad venom was not like doing other drugs, reports GQ. 

5-MeO-DMT is a highly potent psychedelic derived from the Sonoran Desert Toad. The experience is intense and short, lasting at most around an hour. Dubbed “The God Molecule,” 5-MeO-DMT can inspire a profound feeling of oneness with the universe, and the dissolving of one’s ego and sense of self.

This isn’t the first time the 54-year-old fighter has publicly shared how 5-MeO-DMT transformed his perspective on life. In the beginning of 2019, Tyson and Joe Rogan discussed the ineffable, life-changing qualities of toad venom on The Joe Rogan Experience. 

“I’ve never been the same,” Tyson told Rogan. “I look at life differently, I look at people differently.” He said the experience was akin to dying and rebirth, and too “inconceivable” to put into words. 

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A study of 75 participants published in April 2019 found that 5-MeO-DMT lead to a significant increase in satisfaction, along with decreases in anxiety, depression, and stress, up to 4 weeks after intake. Researchers found that these changes correlated with “ego dissolution or oceanic boundlessness.” 

Tyson appears to connect his newfound happiness and positive outlook to the ego death he experienced with toad venom. 

“You realize how insignificant you are without your ego,” he told Rogan. “You’re not really much that you thought you were.”

Tyson has talked candidly about his substance abuse, sex addiction, and extravagant spending during his younger years. “I was sick and I had no idea I was so sick,” he said of his mental health, as reported by The Daily Mail. His self-destructive lifestyle ran parallel with some serious allegations as well. In 1992, Tyson was found guilty of raping 18-year-old Desiree Washington, and sentenced to six years in jail (of which he served three). And his first wife, Robin Givens, whom he divorced in 1989, accused him of being physically abusive, alleging that he punched her in the face. While Tyson has maintained his innocence of rape, he cavalerierly admitted to punching Givens. In a 1989 issue of Playboy, Tyson described the assault as the “best punch I’d ever thrown in my life.”

Before he took 5-MeO-DMT, he was actively attempting to shed himself of old habits. “I always had my cocaine, my alcoholism,” he tells GQ. “That was my main stuff. My cocaine and my alcohol. And my sex addiction. Sleeping with strangers and stuff. It just all goes together.”

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In an ESPN interview from May 2019, Tyson admitted that things like the championship, sex, or cocaine were not happinenss. After coming down from a 5-MeO-DMT experience, he said, “I’m happy, I’m laughing, I’m smiling. I realize I’m nothing, all my fancy clothes, my big car.”

When the interviewer brought up Tyson’s decades-long search for happiness, Tyson responded: “When you think you know everything, then you realize you don’t know anything – that’s a big awakening.” 

Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. fought to an unofficial draw after two 8-minute rounds on November 29, 2020. One hopes the newly enlightened boxer is still happy, regardless of the outcome.