There is no “right way” to have a psychedelic experience. Perhaps you associate shrooms with fun, social experiences—or, alternatively, with journeying under the care of your community, a spiritual group, or guide. But, is being a part of a group necessary? Doing shrooms alone comes with its share of risks. Yet, out of pandemic-related necessity or simply out of the desire to explore consciousness without the social and emotional input of others, psychonauts are increasingly interested in the possibilities of taking shrooms or other psychedelics alone. Here’s what you should know before you shroom solo.
Doing Shrooms Alone: Should I?
Deciding to shroom alone is a matter that deserves thoughtful consideration, says Chaia Moon, a mindset and integration consultant and owner of Chaia Moon Multiverse, who frequently guides psychedelic journeys. If you’re interested in exploring consciousness in this way, you might ask yourself a few questions, such as: What am I hoping to learn from a solo trip? And, Which tools and practices can I draw on to help center and ground myself during my journey?
Moments You Probably Shouldn’t Shroom Alone
If this is your first time tripping with shrooms, the mantra start low and go slow can be helpful. Many people find that microdosing is a good place to start. Microdosing can be a way to get familiar with mushrooms and acclimate to the subtler side of the altered states they can engender. After gaining some experience with microdosing, your body and mind may be more ready for a low or moderate dose.
Likewise, if you’re in the midst or the aftermath of a major life event—such as marriage, divorce, becoming a parent, or losing a loved one—Moon recommends waiting at least 90 days before journeying with any psychedelics. “The nervous system is more vigilant at this time,” she tells DoubleBlind, and thus “your body first needs to regulate and settle down.” Tripping when in crisis or during a major transition heightens the risk for a challenging experience, which could leave you feeling more unsettled. Instead, during that time, Moon recommends seeking other forms of support, such as talk therapy, or working with a psychedelics guide who can help you get to a more settled state of mind and body before you embark on a trip.
Additionally, it’s important to have support in your psychedelic journey if you have a personal or family history of addiction, psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, or severe anxiety. Having a mental health diagnosis doesn’t necessarily preclude the possibility of tripping alone, says Moon, but it’s best done when you’re in a stable and relatively healthy state of mind and body—not, she says, at a moment when you’re actively dealing with addiction or major mental health challenges.
Additionally, it’s worth highlighting that if you take any prescription medications or other substances, it’s also essential to check with a medical practitioner for contraindications or potential interactions.
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What Is Doing Shrooms Alone Like?
Everyone will have a different experience with shrooms. At the right dose, psilocybin will significantly alter your perceptions—including, but not limited to, your physical senses, your sense of time, your environment, your relationships, and even yourself. You may see ordinary objects and familiar environments in a new light, and you could experience euphoria, enhanced creativity, spiritual or mystical experiences, and ego death. Shrooming with a group of like-minded people can become a bonding, social experience, but shrooms can also turn your attention to a deeply introspective place.
Benefits of Doing Shrooms Alone
A big pro of solo tripping concerns accessibility. When shrooming alone, there’s no need to coordinate schedules with fellow trippers, groups, or guides, and you can choose your own best day and time for the journey. If you’re a person who enjoys and seeks solitude—or you’re someone with social anxiety—tripping solo might feel like a comfortable and supportive way to journey inwards. Plus, you can choose to be clothed or unclothed for your solo trip with greater ease.
If you’re relatively experienced with shrooms, says Chaia Moon, you may experience your solo trip as healing and cathartic. “Seeing yourself safely through a trip can feel empowering,” she says because using your tools and managing your way through a trip can increase your self-trust. “To get through that otherworldly journey, and where it takes you,” she says, “it’s almost like a triumph.”
Additionally, tripping alone means that your experience won’t be influenced by that of others in your space. Having someone else there, even if they’re quiet, can change the experience. “If the other person ends up having a bad time, it’s pretty likely you will also have a bad time,” commented a Reddit user in a shroom forum. Alternatively, the person or people you’re tripping with could be enjoying themselves, but their vibe—and preferred activities—may simply not flow well with yours. And even well-intentioned guides, says Moon, can sometimes get in the way of your process. “So much more comes out with a solo trip,” she says, “because it’s just you.”
Disadvantages of Doing Shrooms Alone
The 2021 Global Drug Survey ranked psilocybin mushrooms as the safest among commonly used psychoactive substances. Still, psychedelics can be unpredictable, and shrooming—especially in high doses—can sometimes come with challenges. Difficult experiences with psilocybin may include nausea, physical discomfort, disorientation, fear, or paranoia—and tripping solo could present additional challenges to dealing with whatever arises.
Physical safety is important to consider when tripping alone, which means that, unfortunately, remote wilderness spots—even the most pristine and inspiring ones— are best avoided for those solo journeys. Familiar environments with defined boundaries, like a home, or an enclosed yard or garden, are safer environments for tripping alone.
The biggest potential disadvantage to tripping solo on shrooms concerns your ability to feel safe and supported in the event of a mentally challenging trip, particularly if you’re doing a deep dive into your psyche and processing past pain. “You can retraumatize yourself if you’re not prepared,” says Moon. “It’s one thing to feel grief—to cry and let it out—and another thing to be shaking and afraid, and to have difficulty moving past that on your own.”
If you seek the privacy of tripping alone, but would also prefer the comfort of knowing someone is there if you need them, consider asking a trusted friend, neighbor, or trip sitter to stay in a nearby space, such as in the next room, for the duration of your trip. That way you can benefit from a solo trip with the peace of mind that comes with knowing support is available should you need it.
Preparing To Do Shrooms Alone
Preparing to do shrooms alone is similar to preparing for a tripping in a group setting—with a few important caveats. Those who choose to trip alone have greater safety concerns to consider: how do you ensure that you can access help should trouble arise? How do you ensure that you don’t get lost if you’re away from home? How do you ensure that you can stay emotionally safe during a challenging experience?
Dosage is an important—though far from the only—factor to consider. A so-called “heroic dose” (roughly five grams dry weight of psilocybin mushrooms) isn’t a good idea for your first trip alone, or—possibly for any solo trip. Microdoses or low dosages (.1 grams to 2 grams of dried mushrooms) may be a safer choice. Here are other things to keep in mind:
Mind your set and setting
In the language of psychedelic journeying, “set” refers to your mood and frame of being, and “setting” references your environment and, if applicable, the people you’re with. Both set and setting can greatly impact your trip, so before you ingest mushrooms, here are some things that may be helpful to consider:
- Can you choose a day when you feel healthy and well-rested?
- Have you told a trusted friend, trip sitter, or guide about your plans? Have you asked them to be available by phone should you need support? Have you decided on a set time when they should reach out to you to check in?
- Are you in a safe and familiar space where you can be undisturbed for the duration of your trip? Many people find that a home with an enclosed yard or other outdoor space is ideal.
- Are you in a place where you are likely to get lost?
- Is your space tidy, decluttered, and comfortable? Would you like to store any photos or images that may trigger unpleasant feelings when you’re in an altered state?
- Have you gathered supplies that may be useful or inspiring on your journey? An eye covering, blankets and pillows, a journal and pen, art supplies, a playlist that helps set the mood may be helpful, as well as any esoteric tools you enjoy using such as Tarot cards or crystals.
- Have you eaten a light meal a few hours before your journey?
- Do you have plenty of water handy? What about light snacks, such as fruit and crackers?
- Have you silenced your phone and other electronics?
Finally, it is important to ensure that you have easy access to emergency services should the need arise.
Moving Through Your Solo Shroom Trip
Setting an intention can be a helpful practice before a trip. Setting an intention involves reflecting on what you hope to gain or experience from working with mushrooms. Perhaps you seek clarity about an important decision or relationship, for example, or perhaps you’d simply like to remain open to whatever the mushrooms have to teach you.
Sara Ouimette, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Oakland, California who is also a trained psychedelics guide, blogs on issues around journeying and integration. As you move through the psychedelic experience,” writes Ouimette, “feel your senses through your body. Feel your feelings and let them move through you however they want to express themselves. Allow whatever arises and then let it go using movement, voice, or breath. Pay attention to new insights and listen to the wisdom, making it a part of you.”
Dealing with Challenging Solo Trips
As mentioned previously, mushroom trips can sometimes bring on uncomfortable experiences and sensations such as nausea, fear, paranoia, disorientation, and physical discomfort. If you do encounter these challenging sensations while tripping solo, it may help to have a suite of tools and techniques at the ready. These can include but aren’t limited to: breathwork, yoga, meditation and mindfulness techniques, journaling, and positive self-talk.
Ouimette recommends meeting challenging moments by re-centering in your physical body while observing—not becoming attached to—whatever feelings or sensations arise. For instance, if fear starts to creep into your experience, you can “…breathe deeply and allow whatever you are feeling to move through you, shaking your body or making any sounds that feel natural or intuitive.”
If you find yourself in the midst of a difficult solo trip, it’s a good idea to seek support from someone experienced in psychedelic journeying. A previous trip sitter or guide or a nonjudgmental friend may make for helpful confidants. Fireside Project runs a peer support psychedelics hotline that’s worth having on speed dial in case you need to reach out—they also have an app. And of course—contact emergency services if you feel that you are in distress or danger.
Take Time Off Before, During, and After Your Trip
It’s important to give yourself enough time to work through your psychedelic experience. Choose a day to shroom when you have no obligations to work or care for others, including children, as it often takes many hours after your trip is complete—in addition to a period of restorative sleep—to return to baseline, according to Chaia Moon. If at all possible, take the day after your trip as well to rest and recover.
Once you’ve recuperated, setting aside some time to reflect on your trip, noting any insights, peak experiences, challenges, or questions that arose for you can be cathartic. Journaling or talking through these issues with a good friend, a trusted guide, or a therapist—also known as integrating your psychedelic experience—may help you grow and prepare for your next trip.
The information presented in this article is intended for educational purposes and should not be used in place of expert guidance. Psychedelics can inspire emotionally and physically intense experiences. If you’re looking for peer support during or after a psychedelic experience, contact Fireside Project by calling or texting 6-2FIRESIDE. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for support.