Psychedelics can be mind-opening, life-changing portals that propel you into another reality of introspective thought, deep connections, and beautiful discoveries… but if used incorrectly, they can be scary and borderline traumatizing. That said, they don’t need to be avoided or prohibited, as entheogens have been a part of human culture for millennia. Responsible and informed use of these compounds is crucial – just be sure that when prepping for your psychonaut adventure, you respect their psychedelic plant power and avoid some common mistakes that can make or break your trip.
Psychedelics are fun, but if you make any of the following mistakes before or during your trip, things can get too crazy, really fast. Make sure to follow our guide to ensure a positive trip, and to learn more about rapidly-growing psychedelic industry, subscribe to The Psychedelics Weekly Newsletter.
What Are Psychedelics?
Psychedelic drugs, also referred to entheogens, are a subset of hallucinogens which contain compounds that can alter perception. The term entheogens come from Greek and can be roughly translated to mean “building the God within”. The high produced by these types of drugs is known as a ‘trip’, and can include various types of visual, auditory, and sensory hallucinations. The intensity of a trip can vary dramatically based on the specific compound and dose consumed. Sometimes, a user will experience no hallucinations at all, but rather a sense of general well-being, spirituality, and euphoria.
If you’ve ever heard someone mention a ‘bad trip’, this means they had some type of negative side effects or maybe even scary hallucinations. Physical symptoms of a bad trip can include but are not limited to: irregular heartbeat, nausea, chills, sweating, and anxiety. Dosing and setting, among other factors, can significantly impact a psychedelic trip, so you want to make sure that you’re doing everything possible to ensure an uplifting and beneficial high.
Are They Safe?
Psychedelics are generally regarded as safe. According to the results of a Global Drug Survey that polled 120,000 regular drug users, magic mushrooms were the safest recreational drug, along with cannabis. Their method at determining user safety was by comparing the drug used to the amount of required emergency room visits. Only 0.2% of the nearly 10,000 mushroom users surveyed had ever required emergency care, compared to the 1.0% of those using harder drugs like ecstasy or cocaine.
Furthermore, new research suggests that certain psychedelic substances can help relieve anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction and numerous other mental health disorders. “The biggest misconception people have about psychedelics is that these are drugs that make you crazy,” says Michael Pollan, author of the new book How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. “We now have evidence that that does happen sometimes — but in many more cases, these are drugs that can make you sane.”
Good Trip Guaranteed: Common Mistakes to Avoid on Psychedelics
Again, just because psychedelic drugs are typically safe that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a perfect experience with them. When partaking, it’s very important to set the mood beforehand to make sure everything goes smoothly and reduce your likelihood of having a bad trip. Avoiding the following mistakes will ensure that your experience with psychedelics is a positive one
Pick the right setting
Psychologist and author, Timothy Leary, could not emphasize it more… “set and setting” are of utmost importance when it comes to having a happy and therapeutic psychedelic trip. The general consensus is that it’s best to avoid unfamiliar situations, especially if you’re a novice user, and you should do everything possible to construct a safe and relaxing tripping environment BEFORE you start your adventure.
Make sure you’re in good company
At best, being around bad company or people that make you uncomfortable can be awkward and unpleasant. At worst, hanging out with the wrong people while tripping can become a literal nightmare complete with terrifying hallucinations. I don’t know about you, but for me, vibes are everything. If I get bad vibes from someone when I’m sober, you had better believe those negative feelings will be amplified if I’m on psychedelic drugs. To make sure you have a peaceful experience, you absolutely must surround yourself with people you trust and feel completely safe around.
Do NOT Use Hallucinogens with Other Substances
Psychedelic drugs are best used alone, unless of course you choose to smoke a little bit of cannabis along with them, which can have positive effects. Harder drugs and alcohol can be dangerous as they can magnify disorientation and physical symptoms associated with bad trips (nausea, chills, etc.), and some believe that combining these types of substances with entheogens can lead to violent thoughts and hallucinations.
Your Mood Impacts Your Trip
If you’re in a bad mood beforehand – feeling anxious, nervous, stressed, scared, or going through some sort of existential crisis – you might want to hold off on the psychedelics. Sure, when used therapeutically in a clinical setting, they can change your thoughts for the better. But if you’re inexperienced and grappling with dark thoughts, hallucinogens can amplify these and put you in a dangerously negative state of mind.
When planning your trip, it’s important to keep in mind that certain hallucinogens – mushrooms and LSD, for instance – can produce highs that last for up to 8 hours. Make 100 percent sure that you have enough time to complete your trip and come down from it properly without any type of activity or responsibility getting in the way. If you feel like you’re rushing and have too near of a cutoff time before getting back to reality, you could end up with a veil of dread and anxiety over your experience.
All in all, taking psychedelics successfully is not complicated or daunting in any way if you avoid making the above mistakes. Just be sure to keep a few things in mind, get your setting and company right, and don’t mix psychedelics with stronger drugs, and you can almost guarantee that your trip will be open, joyous, and transformative; rather than the complete opposite. Have you ever had a bad trip on psychedelics, and if so, was it related to any avoidable mistakes? We’d love to hear your thoughts, drop us a line in the comment section below!
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