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10 Tips to Help You Safely Navigate a Bad Trip

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on how to navigate a “bad” psychedelic experience. Given the intensity of these experiences, it’s nearly impossible to discuss psychedelics without someone bringing up the notoriously feared “bad trip.” 

This term “bad trip” refers to a challenging or difficult experience while being under the influence of a hallucinatory substance such as psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, ayahuasca, or even cannabis.

Don’t get us wrong, difficult experiences induced by psychedelic substances are just as important as ecstatic, awe-inspiring ones, and we’ve written a past article on the importance of bad trips

In fact, part of the deep, soulful medicine which resides in these mystical compounds lies in their ability to invoke intense, overwhelming, or shadowed emotions and thoughts. It’s how you handle the adversity that makes the difference.  

“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

But while it is important to understand the value of having a difficult trip, there are steps to be taken to ensure you have the capacity to handle, process, and alchemize the potential struggles, confusion, or hardships that may arise.

Key Takeaways

  • Proper preparation, including understanding the substance, dosage, mental readiness, and creating a suitable environment significantly reduces the likelihood of a bad trip.
  • Utilize strategies like controlled breathing, changing stimuli (audio, visual cues), or altering the environment to help manage and potentially alleviate the intensity of a difficult experience.
  • Never self-medicate or mix substances during a psychedelic experience, and always prioritize safety by engaging with a knowledgeable trip sitter or guide as needed.
  • Psychedelic Passage: Your Psychedelic Concierge — The easy, legal way to find trustworthy psilocybin guides, facilitators and psychedelic-assisted therapy near you in the United States.

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For harm-reduction purposes, we provide links to online psilocybin vendors, local stores, delivery services, and spore vendors for growing your own medicine at home.

Challenging Psychedelic Experiences Result in Growth

While we generally try to avoid these experiences altogether, the simple fact remains that bad trips are an inextricable part of the psychedelic experience

We maintain the belief that bad trips, though difficult to endure, are actually the most crucial part of the psychedelic experience as they result in some of the most impactful mental, physical, and spiritual growth we all desire.

Although these experiences are part of the psychedelic journey, there are steps you can take to make a challenging psychedelic experience easier to endure.

In fact, by implementing the 10 tools we’ll discuss below, you can significantly lower your chances of experiencing a bad trip, and arm yourself with the tools to cope with one should it occur.

Whether you’re currently experiencing a bad trip, trying to help a friend through one, or want to reduce the likelihood of having one in the future, these 10 tips will help you safely navigate a challenging psychedelic experience.

10 Ways to Navigate a Bad Trip

1. Prepare in Advance

The best way to prevent or mitigate a bad trip is to have the proper preparation. 

In fact, we’ve written entire articles that specifically address how to prepare for an intentional psychedelic experience. This step is the most important and happens to be one of the main reasons our clients work with us. 

This includes learning about the specific substance, choosing the correct dosage, preparing mentally and physically, as well as preparing your environment for the trip itself. 

Writing down your intentions before your trip can help anchor your thoughts. Proper rest, hydration, and good nutrition prior to the trip will also help your endurance. 

Pre-made food, snacks, and readily available water can help nourish yourself during a bad trip. Setting up a comfortable area with little to no external interruption may also create an inviting and safe environment for your experience. 

There is no substitute for adequate preparation. Click the link to speak with a psychedelic trip sitters about the psychedelic preparation process.

2. Do Not Judge Yourself

We understand that even the most prepared person can have a bad trip and the importance of not judging or speaking negatively to yourself for having one. Be gentle on yourself. 

These negative thoughts can spiral out of control, making your experience that much more stressful.

One tactic that we’ve found useful is to write (in advance) a letter to yourself highlighting the things you love most about yourself and the lessons you hope to learn from your psychedelic experience and read it during your bad trip. 

When writing intentions, it may also be helpful to write grounding and anchoring messages to yourself for times when you feel you are spiraling or afraid. These messages may center ideas of safety, capability, and loving positivity.

Bad trips do not mean you are a bad person or stupid. You have to remember that you have the strength and resolve to survive the experience.

3. Remember It Is Temporary & That You Are Safe 

Similarly, bad trips can feel like they will last forever or make you feel like you are permanently damaged. Remember that many people encounter bad trips, and all of them are temporary. 

This means that the negative or uncomfortable sensations you are feeling will pass with time. Sometimes just the mere reminder that your experience is temporary gives you the endurance to safely get through your discomfort. 

Repeating the mantras “This too shall pass” or “This is temporary” can also help remind and calm you.

4. Take Care of Your Needs

In the height of the excitement, we sometimes forget that our consciousness lives within a human shell, which has needs that must be fulfilled to survive. 

You may be experiencing symptoms or discomfort, thinking it’s a bad trip, when in actuality, your body is signaling something as simple as eating, drinking water, using the bathroom, or that you are too hot or cold. 

Start by taking care of those basic physical needs, then move up to exploring your psychological needs, and ultimately your self-actualizing needs

Addressing some, or all of these needs will likely help you work through your bad trip and gain significant insight from it.

10 Tips to Help You Safely Navigate a Bad Trip

5. Breathwork

Breathing techniques have been scientifically proven to lower anxiety, depression, and stress. 

One 2013 study by Azadeh Nemati found that “only 33% of the participants of the experimental group experienced high test anxiety, while this percentage was nearly twice in the control group (66.7%)” for those assessed on their levels of pre-testing related anxiety. 

This means that prior to testing, self-reported anxiety was cut nearly in half in participants who did breathwork ahead of testing time

If you are feeling overwhelmed, start by taking deep breaths in through your nose, hold the air deep in your stomach for a couple of seconds, exhaling fully and deeply, and repeating. 

Do this for at least a minute, and repeat whenever you are feeling negative symptoms arise. You may also try alternate nostril breathing, which has been shown to lower stress and anxiety, improve cardiovascular function, and lower your heart rate (Cronkleton, 2022).

6. Change Audio and Visual Cues

Music and visual stimulation can help stabilize your mind during a bad trip. Giving your mind something to do often helps it from wandering uncontrollably, and we’ve put together a list of some great psychedelic trip music

Put on some of your favorite songs (playlists are recommended so you aren’t constantly required to make choices), or a funny or visually appealing movie or show to temporarily give your mind something to focus on. 

Choose something you’ve already seen before as the familiarity can help ground you. If it is too difficult to look at a screen, options like a book of art or poetry are good alternatives.

7. Change Your Environment

Sometimes navigating a bad trip can be as simple as changing the environment. As mentioned earlier, creating an intentional, comfortable, and safe space for your experience is important

Pay attention to things like tidiness, lighting, comfort, and room temperature. 

If you are still feeling claustrophobic or stuffy, explore a different room or walk throughout your house. It’s also important to minimize safety hazards in the space. 

Step outside to your backyard or another private area to get some fresh air, but avoid being out in public as you are less in control of your environment. Nature is often a refreshing venue to re-ground and re-establish a sense of inner peace.

Sometimes your body needs to be in motion and changing your environment can give you a great excuse to move around. Even adjusting your posture or hand placement can make a huge difference in these altered states.

8. Surrender to the Experience

Often a very interesting phenomenon happens during a psychedelic experience where the more you try to control it, the more intense and uncontrollable the experience becomes

The previous tips are all about mitigating and preventing a bad trip, but if you’ve tried all of the above and are safe, yet feel like the bad trip is still ongoing, the best thing to do is to lean into the experience and surrender to it. 

Surrendering does not mean giving up or harming yourself. In spiritual terms, surrendering means setting aside your own will and trusting your thoughts, ideas, and actions to the will of a higher power, whether it be god, ancestors, or the psychedelics themselves. 

Surrendering to the experience is saying, “I know I am safe; I know this is temporary; I surrender myself to the experience and wherever it takes me, knowing I will come out the other end just fine.”

9. Do Not Self Medicate

No matter how negative the experience can get, never mix drugs or drink alcohol while taking a psychedelic. There can be extremely negative consequences and harmful effects on your body. 

Even prescribed antidepressants and benzodiazepines, like Xanax, can have an adverse effect while under the influence of psychedelics.

However, non-medicated supplements, such as lavender, valerian root, b-complex vitamins, and vitamin c have anecdotally been stated to reduce anxiety during a bad trip. 

If you are predisposed to specific mental conditions, please seek a medical professional before doing psychedelics.

10. Connect With Someone

You may think that your best friend or partner is the ideal person for sitting for you because they know you intimately, but there are some definitive downsides to this route which are worth noting

Your friend or family member—while likely caring and supportive—may not have the proper experience, emotional capacity, or skills to help you navigate the experience in an unbiased way, especially in the event that you begin having a bad trip.

Not everyone may know how to de-escalate or respond in a crisis, and there is also the issue of lack of neutrality which can impact the content and quality of your trip. 

Trip sitting is best done by an experienced facilitator who knows that you are undergoing a psychedelic event, is familiar with that particular substance, and is trained in trip sitting and harm reduction techniques. 

Just Had a Bad Trip and Not Sure What to do Next?

The most important thing to do is to acknowledge both yourself and the sanctity of the powerful experience you just had. 

Historically, bad trips are sacred events in indigenous cultures who work with psychedelics ceremonially. Integration is a key part of this, through incorporating the lessons and wisdom into daily life and larger community.

Psychedelic integration refers to making sense of the psychedelic experience so that the lessons learned can be incorporated into a new way of being. 

In other words, unpacking the often bewildering psychedelic experience so that the insights and realizations can be implemented in your everyday life.

Psychedelics have the potential to change your life, but they aren’t inherently life-changing. Making lasting change takes work on your part, and integration is that work. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to do the work alone. Active support from a qualified psychedelic facilitator or guide is the best way to integrate these experiences into everyday life.

In fact, these mind-blowing experiences can make us feel like we are going crazy if we don’t have anyone around to help us process and unpack them. 

If you are looking for unbiased support and accountability throughout your entire psychedelic experience (before, during, and after), we suggest you book a consultation to talk to a facilitator today for the best quality support.

You can also check out our podcast episodes on mitigating the changes of a bad trip, part 1 and part 2, to dive deeper into this topic and conversation. 

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Hi there! We sincerely hope that you’ve found valuable takeaways that resonate with your current intentions. To explore research-based education, stay updated with psychedelic news, and benefit from practical how-to articles, we encourage you to head over to our resources page.

If you’re seeking personalized advice and are prepared to take the first step toward a therapeutic psychedelic experience, we invite you to book a consultation with our team of experienced psychedelic concierges.

This consultation is more than just a conversation; it’s an opportunity to be matched with a trustworthy local facilitator. You’ll be seamlessly connected to our rigorously vetted network of psychedelic guides, ensuring potential matches align with your needs.

Psychedelic Passage offers confidence and peace of mind by alleviating the burden of having to guess who’s right for you. If you want to discover how Psychedelic Passage can help you, we empower you to learn more about our services and check out client testimonials from those who’ve gone before you.

Your healing path is uniquely yours, and our commitment is to serve you at every juncture. Psychedelic Passage: Your Psychedelic Concierge — The easy, legal way to find trustworthy psilocybin guides, facilitators and psychedelic-assisted therapy near you in the United States.

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Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: What is a bad trip in the context of psychedelics?

A bad trip refers to a challenging or difficult experience while under the influence of psychedelic substances, resulting in distressing mental and emotional states.

Q: How can I prepare to minimize the chances of a bad trip during a psychedelic experience?

Adequate preparation involves learning about the specific substance, choosing the right dosage, preparing mentally and physically, and setting up a suitable, comfortable environment for the journey.

Q: Is it safe to mix psychedelics with other substances or medications?

Mixing psychedelics with other substances, including alcohol or certain medications, can have harmful effects on the body and should be avoided. Always prioritize safety and caution during a psychedelic experience.

Q: What does psychedelic integration mean, and why is it important?

Psychedelic integration involves making sense of the psychedelic experience and incorporating the insights gained into everyday life. 

It is essential for meaningful and lasting transformation, requiring support from a qualified facilitator for effective integration.

Looking for a professionally supported in-person psychedelic experience?

Take the first step and book a consultation call with us today. We'll walk you through every step of the process after getting to know you and your unique situation.

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At Psychedelic Passage, we offer professional 1-on-1 guidance and companionship on your journey of healing. We simply can't sit back and let Americans continue to sit in silent suffering trying to battle mental health issues within a broken health care system, all while knowing that effective alternatives exist. We stand for the sacred, at-home, ceremonial use of psychedelics for consciousness exploration, which we believe to be a fundamental human right.

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