Acid trips. Sometimes they seem to go on forever–we promise you they don’t. Out of all psychedelics, acid (another name for the compound LSD) has the gnarliest reputation for grabbing ahold and not letting go until it’s good and done with you. Of course, this can be an amazing, beautiful, and life-changing experience. Still, it can also involve a lot of stress and anxiety in some cases. It’s normal to wish that your acid trip would just end already. Maybe you want to get to sleep, feel calmer, and relate to the people around you more easily—or maybe you simply want to be able to look at a popcorn ceiling without feeling like it’s a portal to the sixth dimension.
After taking acid, you can expect to feel the effects for eight to 12 hours. The peak of the trip typically occurs two to four hours in, after which you’ll experience a gradual return to “normal consciousness.” In some cases, however, the effects can linger or re-appear for up to 24 hours, according to experts who generally recommend only taking the drug under controlled clinical conditions. (Remember that the drug is illegal in most jurisdictions, including all of the United States. It is also important to test your LSD—and other drugs, too.)
If your acid trip feels like it’s going on too long, the first thing is to remember that you’ve taken a drug that your body is actively metabolizing. In simpler terms: It will end. You may not have the power to control exactly how and when, but you can do some things to soften the comedown—and reduce the subjective experience of tripping. Here are our tips on “shortening” an acid trip to the best of your ability.
So, Is It Possible To Stop An Acid Trip?
While there are actions you can take to make an acid trip feel less intense, the short answer is no. You can not “stop” an acid trip at will. The effects of LSD last a minimum of eight hours, and even after that, the effects can be like a “bouncing ball” for several more hours, as John Hopkins University School of Medicine psychologist Bill Richards told us. Richards is the person to ask: He’s studied psychedelics since the ’60s. Today, part of his work as a research psychologist includes curating playlists for clinical trial patients at the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins.
This “long tail”—the bouncing ball period of the acid trip—is probably the part of the trip you can most affect. You’ve passed the peak. The choices you make during this time will influence the after-effects of your LSD experience. You may want to change your environment to one that is quiet and comfortable–and set the tone with the right music. You may also want to avoid taking additional psychoactive substances (more on that later).
While there are actions you can take to make an acid trip feel less intense, the short answer is no. You can not “stop” an acid trip at will.
Research shows that LSD molecules wedge themselves into our serotonin receptors at an unusual angle. This awkward position is why scientists believe the effects of LSD last longer than those of other psychedelic drugs like psilocybin mushrooms. (On any psychedelic, time may seem to pass slower than it really is, thanks to the sensation of time dilation.) As one scientist told Wired, “once LSD gets in the receptor, you can think of it as a hole in the ground. LSD jumps into it and then pulls a lid down over the top … it can’t get out.” However, that “lid” does move around, so the LSD molecules eventually escape and are broken down by the body.
According to Richards, psychedelic researchers in controlled clinical trials have tried using antipsychotics and other “rescue meds” to try to stop patients’ trips with only varying degrees of success. There is really no silver bullet. Before trying to stop an acid trip, you’ll want to ask yourself whether you really want to.
Should You Try To Stop An Acid Trip?
Richards says that in the early days of LSD research, there wasn’t much recognition of the importance of a patient’s mindset and physical environment (otherwise known as set and setting). Nor was there a full understanding of how advantageous it can be to experience the drug within a supportive therapeutic relationship. Thus, when patients faced major challenges during a trip, some doctors would attempt to “terminate” it using other drugs—which would typically “[leave] patients with an awareness of unresolved personal conflicts,” says Richards. In other words, trying to force a trip to end early might result in a lack of closure that is ultimately not in your best interest.
Some patients try to end their trips early by insisting on keeping their eyes open. They may also refuse to listen to music, compulsively talk, or pace. From a therapeutic viewpoint, says Richards, such people are “missing an opportunity” and “most likely were insufficiently prepared for a psychedelic journey.” Contemporary researchers do have “rescue meds” on hand. Yet, clinicians rarely use these medications—presumably because working through whatever the experience brings up is considered more beneficial.
If you find yourself desperate to stop your acid trip, that might be a sign to slow down.
If you find yourself desperate to stop your acid trip, that might be a sign to slow down. Take a breath and connect with your intentions. If possible, take steps toward acceptance of the fact that the situation is not totally within your control. From there, you can work toward focusing on what you can control, like your set and setting. A shift in your mindset can help you begin to resolve whatever the trip is bringing up. Avoidance might leave you in an even worse state. If you find yourself struggling during or after an LSD experience, remember: You are not alone. A trusted friend, a psychedelic integration therapist, or another safe person can help you process and make sense of what you’ve experienced.
If you don’t have access to a supportive friend or professional during your trip, you might consider calling the Fireside Project’s psychedelic peer support line to reach a trained volunteer who can sit with you, listen, and talk you through this process. (In fact, it’s a good idea to download their app before you partake.)
If you don’t have access to a supportive friend or professional during your trip, you might consider calling the Fireside Project’s psychedelic peer support line to reach a trained volunteer who can sit with you, listen, and talk you through this process.
What Can I Do To Slow Or Stop An Acid Trip?
Trip length varies based on many different factors. Your dose and individual tolerance matter. So does the general state of your set and setting. Being surrounded by a lot of uncontrollable stimuli—like being at a concert, festival, or loud party—might also make it difficult to come down. In contrast, being in a safe, quiet, and comfortable environment where you can shift the position of your body or change the music may help you transition back to normal consciousness.
Vanessa Cruz, a nurse who supervises Fireside Project peer support volunteers, says they receive calls from people wishing their trip would end “all the time.” A volunteer might respond by asking if the person can change their environment—are you too cold? Too hot? Would you like to go somewhere quieter? Can you get a safe ride home? They’d also check to see if the person tripping has recently had water or eaten: These are things people often forget to do while tripping. Being dehydrated or too hungry might make them feel worse.
Fireside doesn’t recommend taking any additional substances as “trip-killers” besides, perhaps, a cup of herbal tea. On the other hand—in contrast to the advice of Fireside and some experts—many psychonauts sometimes do use a strong “downer” like Xanax (which is itself a psychoactive drug). We don’t recommend taking any medications you haven’t been prescribed since you can’t be sure how they will affect you.
Someone concerned that their trip is going on too long shouldn’t smoke cannabis, says Cruz. Although some people are used to weed calming them down, it has a strong chance of re-activating psychedelic effects.
What Should I Do After An Acid Trip?
So you’ve come down, returned to equilibrium, and maybe even gotten some sleep. Now what? It’s important to make sure you are properly fed and hydrated, since these needs may have fallen by the wayside during your trip. You’ll also want to check in with anyone who may be waiting for the “all-clear” to know you’re OK after tripping.
An oft-overlooked stage of the psychedelic healing process is integration. Integration is the process of applying the insights of a psychedelic experience to one’s everyday life, usually through conversations with professionals, friends, and yourself (journaling can be helpful). In fact, proper integration can be the difference between remembering your trip as “good” or “bad.” A psychedelic-informed therapist is ideal for aiding trip integration. For those without access, the Fireside Project’s peer support line is a great alternative; many of their callers seek to process a past trip, rather than manage an ongoing one.
“The basic philosophy in psychedelics is, any time you push up against something you’re not ready to face, that’s where some difficulty can come in, because you’re resisting,” says Cruz. “The question is, can we encourage someone to feel into it? Can we invite in music, invite them to journal, invite them into another room, or other ways of comfort? If someone is still resisting, we say just do what you can for now and invite them to call back for integration.”
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