How to prepare for a psychedelic experience

What do you have to keep in mind?

First a little disclaimer

If you ask us, right now is not a good time to take psychedelics. If you have no or little experience it’s most definitely best to wait until life goes back to ‘normal’. Why? So that you have the best chance at having a good experience. And to keep the risk that you might need emergency medical help minimal. They have their hands full with the coronavirus right now. These tips and tricks below are meant to make this achievable.

For your ideal trip you want to make sure that the set and the setting are as good as they can be. The setting itself doesn’t have to be that much different right now. Ok, so you may not have your incredible friend group around you that you normally do, but your living room or the park around the corner are still the same as they were a few weeks ago. In fact, the park is probably a lot quieter right now. To trip you really want to sit in a quiet place and right now that is basically everywhere.

The set can be different in these weird times. The entire society is experiencing some extra tension right now. Nobody knows where it’s going with coronavirus. How long is it going to take? Do we have to #StayTheFuckHome all the time? How many more people are going to get sick? These are big questions that are constantly flying around on social media, on tv, in the newspapers and in the news.

But more personal questions also come along. Do I have the corona virus or am I still going to get it? What about my family?

You could also feel lonely in such a situation. Because popping round to your friends’ place is not possible right now. Maybe you really have to get used to working or studying from home. You could watch that online class in your pyjamas or in the middle of the night. And none of your colleagues can smell that you haven’t showered in two days. Goodbye rhythm, hello chaos!

And chaos is not ideal when you want to trip.

These are all subjects and feelings that, without you realising, might be nagging your brain. Even if you think you’re not affected by it, there’s a big chance it’s happening subconsciously. Because of this you could be tense or stressed without even realising it. Perhaps because you’re so busy with work, studying, raving in chatrooms or gaming.

These tense feelings could influence your trip. More so if you’re alone. This could have a negative effect on your experience and make your trip do a full 180. This could cause a very difficult experience, a bad trip.

Well begun is half done

If you do decide to trip, make sure you’re prepared and read up on everything well. We have a few tips that might help you with that. We’ve arranged them in categories.

Preparation

  • Are you going to use it at home or alone? Read up on the drug. Read other people’s past trip experiences and the basic information, like dosage, length, risks, do’s and don’ts. The experience at home could be very different to the experience at a festival or a party.
  • With the current rules in place, at home might be the wisest option. By decorating several rooms for your trip, you could even change the setting at home. Every room could have a different atmosphere and different music.
  • Think beforehand what you want to get out of it. Do you just want to have fun for a bit? Or do you want to go inside yourself and explore your brain? Plan a few things beforehand that might help you achieve that goal. Maybe you would like to meditate. Make a quiet and comfortable space where you can do that. If you want to start being creative, make sure you have a colouring book, paint and notebooks for the brilliant insights you might have, plus set up a beautiful screensaver for some extra visual input.
  • Are you going to trip with a housemate or trip sitter, tell your housemate or trip sitter beforehand what you’re feeling and how they can best deal with that. Is it to leave you alone for a minute? To give you a hug (yes, a bit difficult with the 1,5 metre restriction…)? Or is to create a safe space to talk about your feelings?
  • If you’re taking a drug that lasts longer than 4-5 hours, make sure that you’ve prepared some food beforehand. If you start getting hungry during your trip it might be a big challenge to prepare a meal. Even throwing some vegetables together for a salad is a professional sport then!
  • Do you want to go outside for fresh air? Make a plan beforehand where you want to go and prepare a bag with some good food and a drink. That way you don’t have to think about what to bring and you won’t forget anything.

Drug

When we talk about a drug, we’re talking about the chosen drug, the dosage, the purity, adulterants, combination usage and the route of administration.

  • Preferably, take a low dosage. To experiment with higher dosages might be better for another time.
  • Has microdosing been on your list of things to do for a while? Then maybe now is the right time to try it, instead of a mini, macro or maxi dosage.
  • Preferably use psychedelics that you have experience with. New drugs might have different effects than you know or were expecting. It might be more difficult to keep it fun.
  • Choose a drug that doesn’t last too long. It’s a lot easier to keep it fun for 4 hours than for 12+ hours.
  • Don’t take drugs that also have physical risks. Most psychedelics have very few physical risks, but some do. For example, ayahuasca (MAO-inhibitors), iboga (heart problems), NBOMe’s (extreme vasoconstriction, heart problems), NBOH’s (vasoconstriction) or diphenidine (little is known, early signals of paralysation).
  • It’s better not to combine anything. It only makes it more complicated.
  • All the test services (Netherlands) are closed right now. That means that, temporarily, there’s no control over the drug market. Only use something that you’ve already tested or that perhaps you or your friends have already used. If possible use reagent testing to find out more about your sample if testing is not available.

Set

When we talk about the set, we’re talking about all the features of the user. So how are you feeling? What are your expectations of the drug? Are you physically and mentally healthy? Do you use medication? Have you eaten, drunk and slept enough in the past couple of days? Are you wearing suitable clothing for the situation? Do you have any other obligations the day that you’re tripping? Or the day after?

  • Make sure you feel well if you are going to trip. Like we explained above, right now that is harder than usual and maybe subconsciously you are not feeling at your best.
  • Ideally, don’t trip alone. Find a companion or a sober trip sitter. Tripping on your own is very different to tripping with a group of friends. When you’re alone there’s no one to help you get your thoughts in order and keep it fun if you’re going through a rough bit. A trip sitter would be able to help you better with this than someone who’s also taken the drug. Because that person is sober, they are also better able to decide whether it’s necessary to call for help.
  • Are you still choosing to trip on your own? And did you not find a sober trip sitter? Then ask someone to be a backup over the phone. If you’re not feeling well then you could call them. Preferably someone that you feel comfortable with and that lives close by.
  • It might feel a little claustrophobic because you can’t go outside.
  • Make sure you eat and drink enough so that your energy stays high during the trip. This also helps to keep your defence system on track.

Setting

  • Turn off your phone, or otherwise at least put it on silent, so that you have some peace and quiet during your trip.
  • If you do feel smothered, that’s okay! Beforehand you would’ve chosen where to go if you want to go outside. So that’s where you can go now. You have already prepared a bag with some nice foods and drinks, so just grab it and go!
  • Do make sure that you’re keeping your distance, so quiet places in nature are the best. That park around the corner where nobody usually goes is a lot better than a crowded beach…

What if?

Ok… You’ve done your best but you’re not feeling very well. Don’t panic!

  • Don’t wait till it gets worse, but immediately notify your trip sitter or your friend who’s watching their phone for you, but don’t call all your friends. And a message in the group chat with 32 buddies also isn’t working. Then you’ll have 32 concerned friends on the phone. Just one or two friends are enough to help you out.
  • Keep in mind that you’ve taken drugs and that within a few hours (depending on the drug) you’ll be sober again. It will always pass! Even if it feels like you are stuck in a never-ending Rick & Morty loop between two thoughts.
  • Don’t take other drugs to relax. Not even cannabis. This could increase the bad feeling.
  • Change your surroundings. If you’re inside, go out for a walk (see above; your plan was already in place) or even going to another room or putting on some different music might help.
  • Eat a meal. Truly try to eat quite a bit, more than just a bite. That way, your digestive system will start working and you’ll automatically feel more relaxed because your heart rate will go down and then your stress levels will follow. Your body sees the lower heart rate as relaxation. You’re getting out of the fight or flight modus and can start to chill.

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