According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, hallucinogens are powerful drugs that can alter your perceptions. Up until the 1970s, psychologists and psychiatrists used hallucinogens to further therapy with schizophrenic and mood disorder patients. For the most part a hallucinogen is not addictive. One phenomenon goes along with hallucinogens that is extremely unpleasant is known as a “bad trip.”
Trips, Tripping, and Hallucinogens
When someone takes a hit of a hallucinogen, usually by mouth, they go on what is nicknamed a trip. A trip is a hallucinogenic experience that some call life altering and some say that it is just a ride. It is called a trip because a hallucinogen takes you out of yourself into some other realm of consciousness.
Tripping is the term for actively being on a hallucinogen. It means that you are taking a hallucinogen trip. Many other drug users borrowed this term but it started with the hippie culture of the 1960s.
What is a Bad Trip?
When someone is having a bad trip, they are trapped in a nightmarish world where the feelings of fear, anxiety, and depression. People experiencing this describe terrifying hallucinations and deafening noises. During a bad trip, anxiety spikes to panic levels, blood pressure, and heart rate both skyrocket. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know what is going to be a bad trip and what is not. One of the problems with a bad trip is that it can lead to lasting fear and psychosis.
Avoiding a Bad Trip
The first thing that you can do in the event of a bad trip is to avoid one completely. To avoid a bad trip:
- avoid adverse environments, aka scary places with lots of strangers where bad things can happen,
- do not resist the effects of the drug,
- do not go into places that you have a natural fear of,
- have a purpose for the trip such as achieving better understanding of the world around you,
- have a guide, something that you can hold onto if the trip starts to go bad, this can be an actual guidebook or another type of object,
- know a hallucinogen, read about positive experiences and the good things that happen, and
- make sure you are in a safe place with people who are safe around you.
What to do if You are Having a Bad Trip
The worst has happened and you are thinking of all of the terrible things in your life or all of the terrible things you are going to experience. Remember you are in a highly suggestible state and anything negative can create an adverse suggestion in your mind.
- have a sober friend around to remind you of the good things and the fact that you are tripping,
- remind yourself that you are on a hallucinogenic drug and are having fun,
- find a happy memory or thought,
- find something that usually makes you laugh or makes you happy,
- eat some fruit, it sounds strange but bad trips have been linked to low blood sugar,
- do something positive,
- remember that an overdose is extremely unlikely, it is very difficult to overdose on most hallucinogens,
- write down your thoughts,
- take a walk,
- remember you will come down and all of the effects will stop in a few hours,
- remember you are tripping and what you are experiencing is normal and sometimes fun, and
All of these suggestions focus on finding something positive. Even the National Library of Medicines book “Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment,” suggests reassurances in a calm and stress free environment. Remember you are in a highly suggestible state so finding a good suggestion to give yourself or having someone suggest something positive is a great way to go.
If for some reason these suggestions do not work, have a friend who is sober drive you to the hospital. Sometimes on the way, you might ask them to stop because your bad trip has turned positive or a hospital can help flush the drugs from your system and give you somewhere safe to come down. Hospitals do not usually call the police if you are on drugs, they just help you detox.
One of the things about tripping that many people do not realize is the more you trip in a close period of time, the more likely you are to have a bad trip. Whether it is the law of averages or something to do with the drug, the more you trip the more likely you are to have a bad trip.
After a Bad Trip
After a bad trip, it is important to make sure that you get a healthy meal and lots of rest. If you continue to have hallucinations or unbearable anxiety, go to the hospital. There are ways that they can help. Even a good trip will leave you feeling strange for a few days but you should not be anxious or paranoid. It is always good to keep in mind that bad trips are reversible and that you are placing yourself in a highly suggestible state.
For more information on tripping, hallucinogens, or to find help for an addiction to a hallucinogen call 800-592-1193.
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