Prince Harry is no stranger to grief and trauma. The Duke of Sussex has said the death of his mother, Princess Diana, was a turning point in his relationship with his brother and father. He said it also caused some of his mental health struggles.
In recent interviews, the infamous Netflix documentary with his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and his memoir Spare, Prince Harry has been forthcoming about how he’s found relief from his anxiety and other mental health issues. Some of those methods are fairly traditional, but others have been less widely accepted — including the use of recreational marijuana.
Prince Harry has been open about his previous alcohol and drug use
Prince Harry’s drug and alcohol use has been the subject of public scrutiny since he was a teenager.
In 2002, when Harry was 17 and a student at Eton, police officials in the United Kingdom said they were looking into the young heir’s marijuana use after rumors circulated that he was partaking while enrolled in classes. There was little proof, and nothing came of it, according to the Chicago Tribune, besides a meeting with his father, now King Charles, and Camilla Parker Bowles.
In Spare, Harry also admitted to using cocaine he was offered during a hunting weekend and ketamine at various times while growing up, The Daily Mail reports. According to the 38-year-old royal, cocaine “wasn’t much fun.” For him, it was a chance to rebel against the firm as a teenager. In his words, he was a “seventeen-year-old willing to try almost anything that would upset the established order.”
Harry said that marijuana is a ‘fundamental’ element that helped him deal with past trauma
Though much of Harry’s drug use was a byproduct of his rebellious teenage years and is now in the past, his marijuana use was different. In a paid Q&A with Dr. Gabor Maté, a Canadian physician and addiction expert, Harry said his cocaine use was more about fitting in than working through mental anguish. Marijuana, on the other hand, “actually really did help me,” Harry said, per the Toronto Sun.
Prince Harry said using recreational marijuana brought about a “relaxation” and “lightness” he hadn’t experienced otherwise. “I started doing it recreationally and then started to realize how good it was for me; I would say it is one of the fundamental parts of my life that changed me and helped me deal with the traumas and pains of the past.”
Though Harry did not go into how frequently he still smokes marijuana, it’s legal where he lives now. California legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, while it remains illegal in the United Kingdom.
In Spare, Harry recounted how the family stayed in Tyler Perry’s Los Angeles mansion right after moving to the U.S. He said he would occasionally smoke a joint after Meghan and Archie went to bed. “Late at night, with everyone asleep, I’d walk the house, checking the doors and windows,” Harry wrote in his memoir, per The Daily Mail. “Then I’d sit on the balcony or the edge of the garden and roll a joint.”
Psychedelics and traditional therapy also helped Harry through some mental anguish
It seems as if Harry’s marijuana use has helped him to find some rest. However, in previous interviews, he’s also admitted that psychedelics were also helpful in his mental health journey.
He’s written openly about finding and taking magic mushrooms with friends at Courteney Cox’s house party years ago (Cox responded to this claim: “I’m not saying there were mushrooms!”). But more than that, he’s tried psilocybin and ayahuasca, alternative treatments for trauma and depression. Some of the treatments, including psilocybin, are gaining some attention from the Federal Drug Administration for potentially approved courses of treatment, per Forbes.
In his 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper, Harry said the psychedelics were important in moving forward after the death of his mother. “They cleared away this idea that I had in my head that — that my mother — that I needed to cry to prove to my mother that I missed her. When in fact, all she wanted was for me to be happy.”
Prince Harry also said he’s been in traditional talk therapy for more than seven years. He is now the Chief Impact Officer for BetterUp, a startup focused on building mental fitness.
How to get help: To connect with mental health resources near you, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website.
In the U.S. and Canada, text the Crisis Text Line at 741741 to reach a crisis counselor for support.