The Bad Trip Survival Guide

Don’t ever call it a ‘bad trip’ for starters…

Psychedelics can be challenging even to the most experienced users. A so-called ‘bad trip’ can take many forms, the most well-known being frightening hallucinations.

Others may experience more physical challenges like feeling a lack of self control over themselves and their bodies.

With the simple tips below, we hope to help guide new users and veterans of plant medicine through these sometimes difficult encounters.

Please note these tips apply to the use of psychedelics and plant medicine, we do not recommend experimenting with chemical drugs such as MDMA, Ketamine, DXM and others unless you have the ability to properly source, test and or use these substances in a medical environment and or through medical professionals.

Survival Guide

Tip 1 – Breathe

This may sound obvious, however always remembering to breathe – and doing so mindfully – is the best defence against a bad trip.

If things get dark or challenging, focus on your breath and exhale longer than you inhale, noticing the tension in your body release with every exhale.

Studies have found that deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is due to your brain getting signals to relax when inhaling deeply.

Activities that increase heart-rate like: fast breathing, high blood pressure all decrease when you practice breathing techniques or as some call it breathwork. This is why you see professional athletes like Boxers moving around the ring and exhaling between rounds.

Belly breathing is probably the easiest technique and can be done anywhere, even in a crowded festival (post covid19 of course). Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Sit or lie flat in a comfy position
  2. Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other on your chest
  3. Take a deep inhale through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out.
  4. Exhale through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.
  5. Do this between 5 to 10 times. Take your time!
  6. Take note of how you feel in the moment when you finish

Tip 2 – Acceptance

Now that more psychedelic clinical trials are underway, medical professionals have also become aware of the potentials of bad trips with some of their patients using Psilocybin, LSD or other psychedelic substances.

Guides for these trials will now often advise participants to surrender to the experience, especially if it’s a challenging one.

Showing compassion and curiosity to negative thoughts, feelings, or experiences is often a guide into your deep consciousness, and these dark journeys inwards are often just as important as the positive ones.

If certain aspects of what you are seeing or experiencing are bothering you always try and remove them. This could be something as simple as putting your phone in airplane mode, or turning on a different visual on TV.

“If you feel like you’re dying, melting, dissolving, exploding, or going crazy, go ahead and embrace it” said Dr. Bill Richards, a pioneer in the psychedelic research world.

Trying to combat these organic feelings during a bad trip will do much more harm than good and through sheer willpower and some of these other suggestions, you can safely navigate through the bumpiest of trips.

Tip 3 – Change of Scenery

The best thing about tripping is that there really are no rules or perfect formulas to perfect your experience.

Sitting in one place physically for the entire trip may make certain folks feel a bit trapped, closed in or anxious and this is totally normal.

One of the best ways to change the mood before a bad trip takes hold is to switch things up, either physically or by going from indoors to outdoors.

Lighting, music and visuals can always be a huge help too. Making you feel like you’ve transported yourself to a completely different space, without needing to necessarily leave your home. If you are too deep into a trip to even consider travelling too much, try changing your clothes, touching your hands, feet, and body.

Walk around your personal space and try and find any part or place that feels like home. You can shift negative thoughts and energies simply by moving and experimenting with where you feel best while tripping.

For me personally I always feel best tripping 50% in the comfort of my own home and 50% out in nature around as many of the elements as possible.

For you though – could be totally different.

Tip 4- Distract Yourself

Negative thoughts are always a possibility while tripping, and we’ve already covered why it’s important to accept though feelings.

However, another smart approach to avoiding or controlling those feelings is to simply distract yourself. Thought loops and reminiscing on traumatic events is never fun, but sometimes it will come up.

To prepare for this inevitability a lot of people who trip prepare activities ahead of time. This can be anything from painting to making a beat, simply writing in a journal, playing a video game, watching your favourite movies or having a luxurious bath or shower.

Just always make sure to prepare for any more complicated activities before tripping to avoid….problems.

Tip 5 – Talk About it!

If you were with a group of friends and someone said something super offensive or troubling, you or someone in the group would probably speak up.

The same theory should apply to tripping on psychedelics. If you are having a bad time, tell someone you are with and or whom you trust!

If they are also tripping, you don’t even need to go into details, but should still let them know if you are struggling through your experience.

Human connections or even a gentle physical touch like someone lightly holding your hand or rubbing their hand over your back softly can help lift you out of a devastating feeling or negative place.

If you are scared your trip might get overthrown by negativity or you’d like to work through a hyper specific and complex problem, you should look for a trip sitter, experienced guide or possibly a full fledged psychedelic retreat centre or treatment facility.

Sources:
Doubleblind: https://www.instagram.com/p/CEaMF_tBj9B

MAPS: https://maps.org/articles/5953-refinery29-7-ways-to-help-someone-who-s-having-a-bad-trip

Photo by Christopher Ott on Unsplash

Lillie Alexandra
Lillie Alexandra is a writer & community manager from Toronto. She loves kimchi, fat cats and telling unique stories.
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