“Trust the hours, haven’t they carried you everywhere ‘til now?”
— Galway Kinnell
Psychedelics can amplify all aspects of the human experience, whether positive aspects such as connectedness and bliss, or challenging aspects such as fear and confusion. The practices on this page can help prepare for a trip and reduce the chance of a difficult experience.
How a trip unfolds is influenced by three S’s: set, setting, and substance.
Set refers to your mindset when taking a trip.
- Stop and pay attention to how you feel. If this is a particularly stressful moment or you feel rushed, pressured, or sleep-deprived, consider another time for your trip.
- Set an intention, which can be as simple as an intention to connect with nature, friends or yourself. Returning to your intention can help ground you during your trip.
- It’s normal to have some trepidation. In the end, follow your gut.
Setting refers to your environment, including your location and those around you.
- Are you comfortable in your environment? Consider noise, lighting, familiarity, cleanliness, safety, and other people.
- Do you have privacy in your space, or a way to get to a private space if desired?
- Do you feel close and trusting with those in your company? Is everyone on the same page?
- Ensure you have no responsibilities until well after the trip is over.
- Let a sober loved one know beforehand that you are embarking on this journey so that you have someone to talk to should you need.
Substance refers to any drug taken.
- Choose the appropriate dosage, taking into account the substance, desired experience, and individual variations in tolerance. Start low if the substance is unfamiliar or if you feel unsure.
- It’s critical to research contraindications with any pre-existing conditions or medicine you may be taking. Common contraindications include SSRIs, MAOIs, cardiovascular conditions, and a personal or family history of severe psychiatric disorders.
- Take care in combining other substances (including alcohol or cannabis) with psychedelics, as they can greatly intensify your experience.
- Consider a reagent test kit in order to ensure the substance is what you expect it to be and is unadulterated. These are affordable, legal, simple, and easily found online — we highly recommend Bunk Police. Unfold may earn an affiliate commission from this link. We’ve chosen Bunk Police because we support the work they do in the harm reduction movement, and we’re long-time customers who can vouch for their excellent test kits and resources.
It is helpful to remember that difficult is not necessarily bad, and that challenging experiences often result in insight and growth.
The best way to help a fellow traveler is to be a calm and reassuring presence, and to validate (rather than deny or control) what they are going through.
Use yes-or-no questions to check in on their physical comfort (temperature, hunger, thirst, or needing to use the bathroom), as these are easily forgotten on a trip and can masquerade as existential discomforts.
Changing the context (music, lighting, conversation topic, position, or moving to another space) can help.
You may remind them that they ingested a psychedelic and that they will return safely from their journey.
Focus on letting them guide their own journey while you create the space and acceptance to welcome their experience, whatever form it may take.
Call or text 62-FIRESIDE if you are in the US and are looking for peer support during or after a psychedelic experience (open every day 11am – 11pm PT)
Try https://chat.tripsit.me/ to get immediate assistance from peers via online chat.
Call, text, or chat 988 in the US if you are thinking about ending your life and want to talk to a trained counselor.
If you are outside the US, you can also search for a helpline at findahelpline.com.
Preparing for a First Acid Trip - Trippingly
Psychedelics: How they work, benefits, safety, and resources
Responsible drug use - PsychonautWiki
Legal status of psychedelics in the US
Support Resources - Zendo Project
The Manual of Psychedelic Support
Psychedelic integration is the process of incorporating insights and experiences from psychedelic states in order to make positive and sustainable changes in one's daily life.
This can be as simple as journaling about your experience or sharing thoughts with your trip partners. There are also many community groups and practioners who support psychedelic integration:
psychedelic.support - Community Groups
MAPS - List of Mental Health Practitioners for Psychedelic Integration