Reduce your risk of bad trips (scary and stressful experiences), injuries from falls or accidents, and mental health problems
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You and safer tripping
Using hallucinogens is always risky because they are illegal drugs. You can never know for sure what you're buying or using. There are other risks too. Some are related to how hallucinogens affect your mind and body. Others are related to your relationships with people. Here are some ways you can reduce those risks.
Before you start...
Think about why you want to get high. It's best not to use hallucinogens as a way of avoiding or coping with problems.
Know your dealer. It's best to choose someone you feel safe with and who knows about the drugs they sell.
Check your drugs. Whenever possible, check your drugs. Test strips are helpful, but only tell you if a specific drug is in the sample. A drug checking service, either community based or offered by a health service provider, can tell you the composition and strength of your drugs, screen out potential contaminants and provide harm reduction information about drug effects.
Find a buddy (who won't be tripping). Using alone can mean coping by yourself if you get injured or have a bad trip.
Plan your trip. Choose a safe, peaceful place to hang out, knowing that most trips last 8-12 hours. Talk to your friend about things you could do if you have a bad trip.
When you're tripping...
Be sure you're in the right frame of mind. Using hallucinogens can be fun, spiritual or educational if you embrace the experience. It can also be scary, especially if you try to control rather than "roll with it."
Avoid bad experiences. Steer clear of climbing up on things, looking in the mirror, or having sex with anyone other than a comfortable, familiar partner. These activities can have unpleasant or unexpected results.
Stick to one substance at a time. Using cannabis and alcohol while tripping can change your experience in unpredictable ways.
Stay away from the steering wheel. Your judgment and coordination may be greatly impaired.
Think about NOT using hallucinogens if...
You or a family member have a history of mental health problems. Hallucinating can trigger symptoms of a mental health problem.
You're living with a heart condition. Many hallucinogens affect blood pressure and heart rate.
You're experiencing symptoms of a mental health problem. This includes depression or anxiety. Hallucinogens may interact with mental health medications.
You can't keep yourself or others safe while using hallucinogens. Safety needs to be a main priority.
You're using hallucinogens too often. It’s best not to use drugs as your main way of having fun or handling boredom, unhappiness or stress in your life.
You're concerned about people finding out about your use of hallucinogens. Having and maintaining good relationships with your family and friends is more important.
If you're having a bad trip...
Go to a safe environment (if you're not already in one) and play calming music.
Surrender to the experience (rather than trying to control it).
Try to meditate or relax.
The only way to guarantee you won't have a bad trip is to not use hallucinogens.
If someone else is having a bad trip...
Take them to a calm, safe environment.
Reassure them that you're their friend and that in time the experience will pass.
Help them meditate or relax.
Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service:
- 1-800-663-1441 (BC)
- 604-660-9382 (Greater Vancouver)
About the author
The Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, formerly CARBC, is a member of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Substance Use Information. The institute is dedicated to the study of substance use in support of community-wide efforts aimed at providing all people with access to healthier lives, whether using substances or not. For more, visit www.cisur.ca.