10 Tips for Avoiding a Bad Trip

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1. Create an environment where you feel safe.

Psychedelics magnify the mindset you have going into the experience. If you’re relaxed, you’re less likely to have a bad trip. Some people prefer a closed environment under the care of a therapist. Others might feel safer outside in nature surrounded by people they love.

2. Create an environment where you are safe.

When you ingest a psychedelic, you become intoxicated. Be with sober people who will make sure you don’t put yourself in harm’s way and can get you medical assistance if necessary.

3. Know what you’re getting yourself into.

Read the trip reports on Erowid.org or a book on psychedelics, such as James Fadiman’s The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide.

4. Know that a difficult trip isn’t the same thing as a bad one.

During a psychedelic experience, you may be confronted by your own subconscious fears and repressed feelings. Be ready to deal with your problems. Even a difficult trip can be therapeutic, cathartic or downright transcendent.

5. But you might have a bad trip, so know what that means.

Bad trips are experiences defined by anxieties, fears or other powerful negative emotions that don’t have a basis in reality. Be aware that this can happen. Remember the importance of having someone nearby who can help you relax.    

6. Be with someone who will help you work through your anxieties and issues.

This person “could be a therapist, friend or Zendo volunteer,” says MAPS therapist and Zendo Project coordinator Shannon Clare Petitt. Ideally, this person should have experience with psychedelics so that she can relate to whatever you’re feeling.

7. Be aware of the health risks of taking LSD and psilocybin.

If you have a personal or family history of serious mental illness, taking a psychedelic drug like LSD or psilocybin could be harmful. Psychedelics can bring latent psychological problems to the surface, such as schizophrenia. Tripping can also be dangerous for those with heart conditions or high blood pressure. There are reports of bad trips causing PTSD-like symptoms. People with a history of trauma or who have an increased risk of suicide should be carefully monitored and contained during their experiences. You may want to check with a health professional before tripping.   

8. Dosage is important.

One way to increase the chances of a bad trip is to take a dose you’re not prepared for. Petitt advises that “in many cases, less is more.” Visit Erowid.org to learn more about the various psychedelic substances.

9. Know what you’re taking.

Although it’s not a foolproof system, many psychedelics can be tested using kits purchased at sites like BunkPolice.com or DanceSafe.org.

10. Embrace the experience.

Petitt sums this last part up with a saying that Zendo often uses: “Trust, let go, be open.”

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