The 4 Most Common Mistakes People Make With Psychedelics
Mistake #1: Letting fear of a “bad trip” prevent you from exploring a potentially life-changing experience
Scientific studies have shown that a single dose of psychedelics can increase openness, bring out positive personality traits, and therapeutic antidepressant effects. Recently, the FDA granted the “breakthrough therapy” designation to both MDMA and Psilocybin for PTSD and depression, respectively.
It’s clear that psychedelics can be one of the most profound, potentially life-changing, experiences in people’s lives, so why deprive yourself of this cornerstone experience simply out of fear of a potential “bad trip”?
First, it’s important to understand what a bad trip is and why we don’t believe in them. A “bad trip” is simply a label we assign to a difficult experience. The differentiation between “good” and “bad” is all based on perception. And generally, people use “bad” to describe discomfort.
This discomfort can arise in the form of feeling out of control through paranoia, psychosis, overwhelming hallucinations, or chaotic and stressful emotions. The specific sensation doesn’t really matter. The common theme here is you are having an uncomfortable experience that you can’t control.
Discomfort is common in psychedelics because you are not in control of what comes up, which often results in facing your fears and confronting the unsavory aspects of ourselves head on. If you ask the most experienced psychonaut if they’ve had uncomfortable trips, 100% of them will say yes.
Why does this matter? Because it means discomfort is part of the experience! Healing isn’t always comfortable, but it is necessary to evolve. Healing requires being brutally honest with who we are and learning to embrace all parts of ourselves—especially the shadows.
Discomfort really means moving outside of your comfort zone, which is what results in growth–like a snake shedding its skin. The vast majority of “bad trips” are simply misunderstood experiences. Ironically, if you are equipped with the framework to work through these difficult experiences, they turn out to be the most rewarding trips.
Thousands of people are using psychedelics each day to self-actualize, treat depression & anxiety, work through PTSD, inspire creativity, or to see what’s on the other side of the veil. Letting fear stop you from this type of healing is to ignore what your soul needs in exchange for what your ego wants; perceived safety.
These difficult trips are most common for first-time users and those who are unprepared. That’s why we emphasize the importance of pre-trip preparation. You can thoughtfully prepare for these experiences so you aren’t caught off-guard if they occur and have the tools to work through the experience should they arise.
Rather than denying yourself the psychedelic experience altogether, we believe in adequate preparation instead. Prior to embarking on a psychedelic trip, it’s crucial to understand how these substances work and to have a framework to guide you through when things get tough.
Mistake #2: Thinking that the benefits of a psychedelic experience starts and ends with the “trip”
Many people think that all you need to do is trip on psychedelics and you instantly receive 1,000 years of knowledge and healing (we wish!). But that is simply not the case.
The conversation regarding psychedelics in America today focuses on the “trip”— the period of time after taking a substance where you’re in an altered state of consciousness. In this state, there are various psychological, visual and auditory changes to your perception.
Often, the lessons are lost when you shift from an altered state back to your normal state. And frequently we find that the issues brought up during a psychedelic experience can take days, months, even years to unpack, process, and translate into meaningful change.
This is because the lessons aren’t always clear. Your ordinary understanding of reality has changed. You know you’ve changed, but you’re not exactly sure how—or more importantly, what this change means for your life going forward.
Of course a psychedelic trip is a vital part of the journey, but it would be a disservice to assume that it is the only thing needed to achieve the outcome you desire.
To make any meaningful change to your life, it is just as important to consider your thoughts and actions before and after your psychedelic experience.
After all, we must live in our current reality, and a psychedelic experience is only as valuable as what we take back with us and integrate into our everyday lives. Ask yourself: what intentions, if any, did you set before your “trip”? What steps will you take after your psychedelic experience to increase retention and the potential for long-lasting change?
The trip is where the insights, downloads and realizations come from; then it’s up to you to integrate those experiences in your everyday life. This means integration is equally as important as the psychedelic experience itself.
Integration shouldn’t be done alone; it requires another person to help you feel supported and to keep you accountable. This support is how you maximize the psychedelic experience to make lasting change in your everyday life.
Mistake #3: Pursuing psychedelics without proper support before, during, and after the experience
Research and anecdotal evidence makes it clear that psychedelics are a powerful tool to improve mental health and to heal humanity–and continued research and advocacy will further strengthen this truth.
But with such a huge potential comes the personal responsibility to undergo these experiences in a manner that protects your mental, emotional, and physical health.
Psychedelics cause temporary psychological and physiological changes and these altered states can make you extremely vulnerable. Without proper support and harm reduction techniques, you may be exposing yourself to risks that could be easily prevented.
If you’ve never done psychedelics but want to, you may think your options are limited to a music festival, doing them with a group of friends, asking a friend to watch over you while you have your own experience, or doing them alone (not recommended).
Sure, many of these scenarios can be fun, but if you’re seeking a deeper experience that results in life-long change, unsupported psychedelic experiences fall flat.
Why? Because recreational psychedelic use often lacks the preparation, intentionality, support resources, and integration to make a lasting impact.
For instance, you may have set an intention, but your trip sitter (who’s your friend) is not trained in harm reduction, nor do they have the mental, emotional, or spiritual capacity to hold space for you. Or perhaps you ate a tab of LSD at a concert expecting to dance the night away, only to find out you didn’t adequately prepare to address the skeletons in your closet that inevitably arose under the influence of psychedelics.
The result? You feel alone, unprepared, and potentially traumatized because of your lack of support.
Psychedelic experiences are already bewildering and sometimes indescribable, making it difficult to unpack and incorporate meaningful lessons into your everyday life. If you are having these experiences without proper support, you lower your chances of making lasting positive change and actually increase your chances of having a “bad trip”.
From feedback within our psychedelic community, we’ve found the most effective and easily accessible way to make the most of your psychedelic trip is to be supported by a coach or mentor throughout your journey. This means support before, during, and after the psychedelic experience.
This is not a role for peers. These individuals should be experienced spiritual teachers who are classically trained in the use of these substances and can provide you with unbiased support and accountability.
That’s why we created Psychedelic Passage’s mentorship program, to provide you the professional support you need to gain the most out of your next psychedelic journey.
Mistake #4: Keeping your psychedelic experience to yourself
Stigma, social conditioning, judgment, shame, and stereotypes prevent many people from being open about their psychedelic experiences. These substances are seen as deviant and immoral in many communities, so you may be keeping your use a secret because it’s viewed negatively.
It is frustrating to experience firsthand the positive shift psychedelics can activate within you but feeling uncomfortable to share that with your friends and family. However, you must understand that you are doing more harm than good by having these profound experiences and then pretending you didn’t. The psychedelic experience can be alienating and sometimes lonely, but it doesn’t have to be.
Believe it or not, people from all backgrounds and circumstances take psychedelics—not just hippies, tree huggers, satan worshippers and degenerates. In fact, most people in our psychedelic community are entrepreneurs, business professionals, academics, and service workers; all of whom are upstanding citizens looking to optimize their wellbeing.
These mind-blowing experiences can make us feel like we are going crazy if we don’t have anyone to help us process and unpack them.
Feeling understood, loved, and supported can make all the difference between a spiritual awakening and a psychotic break.
Psychedelics change you and these experiences are hard to put into words.
The worst thing anyone can do is shove these experiences away—to not address them. But who do you share this with? Who of your friends and family have the tools, knowledge, and understanding to help you get the most out of your insights?
Active support from a qualified coach or mentor is the best way to integrate these experiences into everyday life. Regardless, we understand that finding a psychedelic mentor isn’t always easy to find given that many of these substances are still illegal and socially taboo. Plus, it’s hard to find someone that you feel comfortable opening up to with similar experiences and needs.
So where do you go for help? How do you find a coach regardless of distance or geography? How do you avoid feeling isolated when your friends may not understand your profound experience?
We offer a one-on-one coaching program that solves this exact problem. In this program, we serve as a trusted mentor, provide actionable information, and facilitate safe spaces for you to feel supported as you explore and discuss the insights from your psychedelic experience.
It’s not about where you are currently on your journey—it’s about finding a mentor that can help you get to where you’d like to be in a safe and constructive way. By passing on the knowledge we’ve gained from our own psychedelic journey, we can begin to open up the robust social conversation about psychedelics that we all desire.
How To Get The Most Out of This Site
We recognize that you have questions regarding psychedelics and you aren’t getting clear answers…
That’s why we started this site: To serve as both a hub for psychedelic knowledge and a platform to connect you to psychedelic-related services and peers who are on their own psychedelic journey of wellbeing.
Regardless of whether you’ve never done psychedelics, have had several experiences, or consider yourself a seasoned psychonaut, we understand the journey of wellbeing through psychedelics is complex.
Self-improvement through psychedelics has the potential to bring about massive positive change to your life…
However, the process can often be overwhelming and intense, especially if you’re doing it alone.
We know what it’s like to feel frustrated and unsupported, wanting to explore a potential life-changing pathway but not knowing where to start or feeling like you’re not getting the most value out of your experience.
Information alone isn’t enough unless it’s actionable… And if you’re like us, you want to talk to a real human, not just read an article.