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SAFE USE OF PSYCHEDELICS: PART ONE – Reasons & Preparation

simon-jonsson

By Simon Jonsson

in this article
  • INTRODUCTION
  • THERAPEUTIC USE
  • RADICAL CHANGE
  • PREPARATION
  • SET & SETTING
  • OVERSTIMULATION?
  • ACTIVITIES
  • WHAT TO EXPECT
simon-jonsson

By Simon Jonsson

header

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Chemical Collective or any associated parties.

INTRODUCTION

First of all, chances are that you are not going to benefit from psychedelics. Your friends wanting you to join or the fact that Jim Morrison loved psychedelics aren’t great reasons to try them. If you can, join a trip sober. If you have your doubts, don’t do it. Having a psychedelic experience can only be compared to intense personal events like spiritual awakenings, falling in love, deep crisis or near death experiences. It is knowingly entering into this realm of life. It is never going to be as expected because it is something radically different from other experiences. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t prepare for it.

THERAPEUTIC USE

therapy

If you are interested in therapeutic use: yes, it can help, but it is not a straightforward solution to your problem. Psychedelics have been scientifically demonstrated to be helpful in cases of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and addiction. It should be clear, however, that these effects are achieved within a framework of therapy and with the assistance of mental health professionals. Psychedelics can help facilitate situations you are stuck in, when you are not sure how to confront specific problems like deep negative conditioning. However, it will always be you individually who does the healing in the end. Whatever your reasons for using psychedelics, it is always recommended to think in depth about why you really want to use these substances. Formulate a clear intention and continuously evaluate whether the experiences you have correspond to these motivations.

RADICAL CHANGE

SAFE USE OF PSYCHEDELICS - radical change

It should be clear that, when we open ourselves to radical change, if we do not handle it with care we can do real damage. Alternative states of consciousness are very powerful, and there is unfortunately no guarantee that this power will be used for good. This is why preparation is paramount, since it can be the deciding factor in what kind of experience we end up having. 

Many of the tips in this article may not radically change your experience, they are designed to alleviate potential problems. An overwhelming amount of people have positive experiences even without following most of this advice, but these precautions may increase reliability, your enjoyment and the substance’s therapeutic potential.

PREPARATION

SAFE USE OF PSYCHEDELICS - set intention

Setting Intention

Before even planning a trip I would recommend to figure out exactly what you want to achieve by using psychedelics. If you just want to enjoy yourself, that is all good. If you want to go deeper, or examine your life then it is also good to think more specifically about the whats and whys involved. It is good to be as specific as possible. Setting your intention for the use of a substance is the first step in centering the mind around the experience that you want to have, and providing a solid conceptual framework from which you can determine whether or not you are achieving your goals.

Dosage

The first use should always be a very low dose trial session. The primary reason for this is that we do not know how sensitive we are to the substance we are ingesting. It will also give some basic idea of what we are encountering when we up the dose. And yes, to make the most of these substances we do need to take a proper dose. While low doses can be entertaining, The psychedelic experience is a mid-to-high dose, and it is a breakthrough encounter.

We can keep dipping our toes, but unless we take the plunge we are unlikely to ever get completely clean. 

Like sex, painting, music or anything worthwhile, doing it once may not even scratch the surface. Using psychedelics is an art, not a ride we come along for. The more work we are prepared to put into it, the more results we will get. Taking a higher dose helps with crossing that barrier where we have to surrender and really give our consciousness over to the experience. No one likes giving away control over their consciousness, but doing this is how revelation and deep personal change can happen. 

SET & SETTING

SAFE USE OF PSYCHEDELICS - set and setting

Environment

Personally I believe that there is no right environment except for outside in nature on a beautiful day. It will blow any other environment out of the water, because of this I also consider it the safest place to be. It may seem counterintuitive to leave one’s home but the truth is that being inside really limits the senses. It opens you up for the magnification of your daily struggles and existential dreads. It brings the possibility for restlessness and habitual behavior. This in no way means that an experience inside will be any less impactful, being outside in nature is safer because it is more stimulating and hence more pleasurable. 

Realistically most trips won’t take place in nature, but in someone’s home. Some general tips are to clean and fully take care of any chores that need to be done. Clean yourself. Prepare food. Fruits, nuts and tea are a good choice, junk food less so. Make sure the space is well ventilated. Soft lighting, candles and textiles with beautiful and complex patterns are recommended. Create a playlist of good relaxing music that takes one on a journey, delivering a range of emotion. One can also use incense or some other way to activate the sense of smell.

I don’t recommend anyone using psychedelics at a party or festival unless they have a very good grasp on how they will react to the substance. Psychedelics magnify the experiences we have, be it sensory, emotional or social. If we have no basic control of the social or sensory setting, no way to leave to a place with less stimulation, it puts us at unnecessary risk. Being around people that are not sensitive to what is happening is unnecessary. 

People

If we don’t have direct experience the only real substitute is to join others that do have it. If we lose the grip on reality, there needs to be a deep trust in the people around us in order for surrender to be an option. We must know for sure that these people will not abuse this trust. Even if they say something that goes completely counter to our own logic we must be able to trust their judgment and good intentions. If we truly have a good person with us, this person can bring us back to earth when our own reality starts to crumble, and if we lose our cool we can mirror theirs. Many people consider a sober sitter to be very helpful, and it is true insofar as it is good to have someone around that is not inhibited by or deeply involved in their own psychedelic state, but a legitimately experienced user can fill the same function even when under the effects. 

Body

I had many shaky experiences in my youth before I understood the value of preparing the body. If we spend the first half of our day drinking coffee and soda, eating McDonalds and candy, we will experience exactly what this does to our body during the evening trip. If we spend the first half of the day sitting still in front of the computer, this is the body we will magnify. This type of discomfort is normally filtered out, but during the experience it will most likely be ever present, and it will be very difficult not to fixate on it. If we work out we will magnify pleasurable experiences in the body. We will already have done what we can to confront restlessness and to foster contentment.

Set and setting is not only key, they are the trip. The body is the primary setting.

Food

It is a good idea to eat only light food that is kind to the body before ingesting the substance and have light food available like fruits and nuts so that we don’t have to go hungry. We will fully experience the metabolic load of whatever we have eaten earlier in the day, so eating light leaves us with more energy and a better feeling in the body. It can even be a good idea to eat healthy and light for a few days before the trip to lighten this load even further. For mushrooms, fasting has a very unique and powerful impact on the experience that is worthy of its own article.

OVERSTIMULATION?

SAFE USE OF PSYCHEDELICS - OVERSTIMULATION

Many people will probably argue with me about the importance of this but I believe it cannot be understated. Ideally we should not take the substance after we have gone through lots of highly stimulating situations. Some examples of this are high intensity videogames, sex or masturbation especially with pornography, strong tasting food, caffeine, even tv-series or social media, even intense humor or intense conversation. The reason for this is not that these things will produce negative experiences later, but rather that it will be easier to produce positive ones if we haven’t overstimulated ourselves before the trip. 

The more we are able to hold off rewards during the day the more our mind will be ready and focused during the trip, the more intense and present the underlying experience will be. The more we maximize our rewards before the experience, the more restlessness and desires will be present during the trip, and the less content we will be. This is what we magnify. This is also why meditation can be such a great tool since it is a way to accumulate these resources.

Making a journey, a pilgrimage with a full day plan, preemptively invests in the experience and opens up for it to be even more impactful. The more we are able to postpone rewards, the more we invest in the trip, the quicker we will embrace the experience by entering into it with our full attention and dignity.

ACTIVITIES

SAFE USE OF PSYCHEDELICS - art

I am a big proponent of bringing structure into the psychedelic experience since this tends to make it even safer and increases its therapeutic potential. I wrote an article called: “The Value of Ceremony in the Psychedelic Experience” that deals with this topic, and the safe regular use of psychedelics, in depth. 

When we amplify our psyche and there is no stimulation what often happens is that we amplify restlessness and perhaps anxiety. When we let go and embrace the experience we start enjoying it. As a newcomer this always takes some time and the easiest way to do this is by a stimulating activity. Engaging in a deep conversation is normally what does this. Pleasurable sensory experiences are always a good idea. The activities can be anything. For years I was doing bubble baths and I always seem to recommend it. 

Art

If you are creative it can be a good idea to look at or listen to your own art during the experience, and working with it might be enjoyable and enlightening. Evaluating it almost always makes me understand better how other people experience my art and has been an irreplaceable assistance in improving. 

Walking

Having a walk can be a very good idea. It may feel incredibly daunting but I cannot point out too many times that being inside is incredibly limiting for the senses. It is easy to assume that tasks are difficult and uncomfortable but when we start doing them we may find that they are well worth the effort. The response of most people to the psychedelic state is to at every turn choose safety and comfort, breaking this pattern is how we truly maximize the potential of these states. 

Sensory Toys/Gadgets

Different kinds of toys and gadgets can be rewarding to use in the psychedelic state. Blowing bubbles or moving, colorful lights. Even playing video games or watching movies can be a good idea. This can be helpful in overcoming that threshold of embracing the experience. On some level they are distractions in the same way that they are distractions in life in general, but that also means that they can have a proper place. Play may be exactly what we need. If we want to play, we can play as a child, and if we watch movies we may understand their message on a deeper level than ever before. The only thing I would recommend with any activity is to not use it to escape from actually being active. Being passive in this state will not have a significant negative impact on the experience but it may avoid the deeper levels of it.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Naturally the psychedelic experience varies a lot, certainly much more than other classes of drugs such as opiates or stimulants. It will vary with personal and environmental factors. It will also naturally vary with what substance we use. It helps to learn as much as possible about that specific substance and to read written accounts. Here the description generally applies to the use of mushrooms and LSD but most tips still stand regardless of the substance.

If you are struggling please reach out for help.

You’re not alone!

Help is available at the following link:

REHAB 4 ADDICTION

 

READ PART TWO

Simon J | Community Blogger at Chemical Collective

Simon is one of our community bloggers here at Chemical Collective. If you’re interested in joining our blogging team and getting paid to write about subjects you’re passionate about, please reach out to David via email at blog@chemical-collective.com

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