From anxiety to panic attacks, there’s one concern on every novice psychonaut’s mind when they prepare to take psychedelics: What if my trip goes south? While everyone should always be aware of the potential risk of having their psychedelic trip interrupted by outside forces, you can take some precautionary steps to foster a safer and more pleasurable experience. Below, you will find our biggest trip killers: people, places, and things that can seriously harsh your mellow. (And some helpful tips on maximizing your experience.)
The Biggest Trip Killers
“I did LSD once, only once … It was a very bad trip—I freaked out and called my parents and tried to explain to my dad what I was feeling, but all he said was, ‘I understand what you’re going through. When I was a teenager, I smoked a Pall Mall cigarette, and I got sick for two days.’’
—Ben Stiller, Have a Good Trip
Tripping with the Wrong People
Ever heard the saying, one bad apple spoils the bunch? The same is true when it comes to the people you trip with. We recommend you avoid anyone who has a history of bad vibes and never take anything from someone you don’t one hundred percent trust. We all have a friend we can count on to bail us out of jail, drive us to the airport, or loan us money without thinking twice, and that’s exactly the kind of person you want to accompany you on your journey through the cosmos. If the people you trip with are mean, sketchy, or untrustworthy, you’re better off going solo. Besides, taking psychedelics alone can be a very rewarding experience, full of spiritual growth, fits of laughter, and bursts of creativity.
Expanding your consciousness in a new place may seem like a fun idea, but we like to err on the side of caution. Choosing an environment where you feel comfortable and safe will allow you to relax and be present for a fuller experience. Taking any kind of substance in a new space can add unnecessary risks to anyone, regardless of their experience level. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Places like museums, festivals, and parks can provide very visceral experiences if done safely with people you trust–but more on that later.
If you take psychedelics while in a public area, starting with a smaller dose may be helpful. Taking a smaller amount can give you some of the same effects while minimizing the chances of your trip ending in peril: We’d recommend a microdose or a museum dose.
Just like your digestive system after an all-you-can-eat buffet, your body reacts poorly to too much of a good thing. It may seem like a good idea to combine substances, but the reality is that once the effects have peaked, you may be higher than you intended. Instead, follow the saying, “start slow, go slow,” and allow yourself to experience your trip’s visual and cognitive effects. Knowing your limit is valuable when it comes to psychedelics, and learning it takes time.
Not Being Prepared
Before your journey begins, take some time and ask yourself if you feel ready for the experience. Questioning your motivations and what you hope to achieve from taking psychedelics is a great way to set the tone for your trip. Other important aspects that will influence your trip are your mental and physical health. Having a healthy diet and sleep schedule leading up to the event will better prepare you for taking psychedelics and will help with any symptoms felt after.
Taking any psychedelic requires an open mind, with compassion for anxieties and worry. While it’s impossible to control the effects of psychedelics, remaining mindful of negativity and remaining curious about the journey will always yield a more enjoyable result.
Not Having Your Favorite Things Handy
Yet another important part of preparation is having some comfort items nearby when you’ll need them the most. Water, snacks, and entertainment should always be within reach. Depending on the setting you choose for your trip, it never hurts to have a comfortable and quiet place to sit or lay down when the mood arises. Unnecessary trips to the convenience store while taking psychedelics can add to your anxiety and pose a safety risk. Avoid having your trip interrupted by heeding our advice in the paragraph above and always having more water than you think you’ll need.
The Wrong Music
Even the right people and the perfect setting, a bad playlist can really kill a trip. Music can be a powerful component of your journey and open your consciousness to a new understanding of the songs you love. So, if you aren’t really feeling the music, don’t be afraid to grab the aux cord and switch things up.
Leaving Your Comfort Zone
One of the easiest ways to kill the vibe is to leave a setting where you feel safe. We mentioned earlier that tripping in places like museums and concerts can provide excellent scenery while taking psychedelics in smaller amounts but doing so requires some mental gymnastics. Those of us that are prone to anxiety and worry know these feelings all too well, and taking psychedelics outside of the places we are familiar with and trust can be a recipe for disaster. If you find yourself inching towards oblivion while under the influence, try to ground yourself. Doing breathing exercises, light yoga, or taking a minute to reflect are all excellent ways to reset your state of mind if your psychedelic experience goes awry.
Having a Messy House
Yet another important part of being prepared is to ensure the setting you trip in is free from clutter. The last thing you want to spend time on during your trip is thinking about your lifestyle in a negative way, so make your bed, stop letting those dishes “soak,” and tidy up a bit before taking psychedelics. Tripping in a setting that feels clean will only add to your overall experience, comfort level, and safety. Leaving you with plenty of time to listen to your favorite artist, create, and stare blissfully at the world around you.
Much like the band’s single, “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” run-ins with the law are by far one of the worst ways to instantly kill your mood and should be avoided while on psychedelics. Due to the fact that these substances are still illegal in most places, encounters with police officers while under the influence can have lasting negative impacts on your life. Taking a controlled substance into a public place will always add risks, so we recommend staying away from events and locations where police officers are present. Instead, choose a nice, open space in nature on a warm day or in the safety of your home.
Taking psychedelics alone or with people you trust in a safe environment can be a life-changing experience, but it’s not for everyone. Fireside Project is a nonprofit that provides free, confidential emotional support by phone and text message to people during and after taking psychedelics. If you find yourself or someone you know experiencing negative thoughts, panic, or anxiety while taking psychedelics. Contact Fireside Project by calling or texting 62-FIRESIDE
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