Preparing for a first psychedelic trip can be daunting. After all, it’s natural to feel apprehensive when heading into the unknown. However, making the right arrangements beforehand can reduce the likelihood of unpleasant effects and make the experience more enjoyable.
Read on for our complete guide to psychedelic trip preparation. We’ll cover all the basics and even touch on some more complex issues. Here’s all you need to know.
How to Prepare for a Psychedelic Trip
Before beginning, we remind our readers that psychedelics are still illegal in most places. While a few US cities have decriminalized these substances, these cities are currently in the minority.
However, we understand that many people will choose to embark upon psychedelic trips regardless. While we cannot condone this, we have put together this guide for the purposes of education and harm reduction.
Why Is Good Trip Preparation Important?
Anyone preparing for their first psychedelic trip may be wondering what to expect and how to optimize the experience. Perhaps they have heard stories of people having ‘bad trips’ and are feeling apprehensive. Or maybe they are considering how to use psychedelics for personal or psychological growth.
Fortunately, the same advice applies to both groups of people. Careful preparation is the best way to minimize unpleasant effects during a trip and get the most out of it.
Some experts argue there is no such thing as a bad trip. While it is true that psychedelics can be intense, knowing what to expect can make their effects more manageable.
Knowing in advance that powerful emotions may arise can help individuals to learn from these feelings rather than becoming overwhelmed.
Therefore, one of the most crucial stages of trip preparation is getting into the right frame of mind beforehand. This is what many experienced psychonauts refer to as Set. It is short for mindset and is the first of the six S’s of trip preparation.
Set refers to the mindset with which you enter the psychedelic journey. To ensure you have adequate mindset preparation, it is best to view a trip as a three-day experience rather than something that lasts just a few hours.
The day before consumption, take some time for self-reflection and set your goals. Ask yourself what your preconceptions are and whether you have any concerns. It may be helpful to discuss these matters with a friend who has experience with psychedelics.
Try to spend some quiet time in nature and get into a positive and peaceful mood. It is not a good idea to consume psychedelics while feeling stressed or anxious. Use the day after the trip to reflect on the experience and consider how to integrate any emotions that arise.
Once feeling calm and confident, it is time to consider the next of the six S’s – setting.
Setting refers to the environment where the trip is to take place. It can be indoors or outdoors, although there are some key things to consider. The ideal setting for a trip should be:
- Familiar and comfortable; an uncluttered room or secluded outdoor environment is best.
- Equipped with cushions, blankets, and somewhere to lie down if necessary.
- Within easy reach of a water source and toilet.
It is also essential to consider factors like music, as this can significantly influence the overall experience. Some people prefer classical or instrumental music, although this is a matter of personal taste.
The next of the six S’s is substance. It is essential to know that the psychedelic has come from a reliable source and that you take the proper dose.
For LSD or other pre-prepared substances, consider investing in a testing kit. For psilocybin mushrooms, ensure that they have been identified correctly and that they have come from a quality source and have been preserved well.
Below is a general guide to dosage. Those embarking on their first trip may wish to start with a low dose to familiarize themselves with the experience.
- Microdose: 10–20 micrograms of LSD or 0.1–0.2 grams of dried mushrooms.
- Moderate dose: 100–150 micrograms of LSD or 1–1.5 grams of dried mushrooms.
- High dose: 200–400 micrograms of LSD or 2–4 grams of dried mushrooms.
It is best to arrange a trip sitter, especially for a first experience. A sitter is someone who can help to monitor the external environment and provide reassurance.
Ideally, they should have experience with psychedelics, but a close and understanding friend will do if this is not possible. The sitter should remain sober throughout the trip.
If you have the ability to, find a qualified psychedelic-assisted psychotherapist or psychedelic guide who is trained in sitting with those undergoing psychedelic journeys.
The next S is session. It refers to the various stages of the trip and how long they last. The session will vary depending on the type of psychedelic.
For example, LSD’s effects tend to begin around an hour after ingestion and can last for over eight hours. Psilocybin mushrooms’ effects usually start 30–60 minutes after ingestion and last between four and six hours.
Keep this in mind when timing a session. It is inadvisable to ingest psychedelics late in the evening as they can interfere with sleep, causing fatigue the following day.
The final S is for situation. It describes how an individual integrates their psychedelic experience into their everyday lives.
The after-effects of a trip can last for weeks or even months. Sometimes, people have revelations about certain aspects of their lives that they wish to change. However, it is best not to act immediately unless they relate to ceasing harmful behavior, such as addictions.
Take some time to consider any significant decisions carefully rather than acting impulsively.
Psychedelic Mushroom Trip Guide
There are several additional factors involved in preparing for a psychedelic trip on mushrooms.
As we mentioned, proper identification is vital. Only pick wild mushrooms if certain they are the correct species. It can be challenging to differentiate between psychedelic mushroom and poisonous ones, so extreme caution is necessary. It is safer to purchase mushrooms from a reliable source or grow them at home.
Another thing to remember is that it is normal to feel nauseated or vomit during the early stages of a psychedelic mushroom trip. If this happens, do not panic. Providing that the mushrooms are definitely psilocybin, any sickness should pass reasonably quickly.
It is also crucial to stay well-hydrated, so keep plenty of water handy. Most people do not feel hungry while tripping on mushrooms. However, it is advisable to have some healthy food ready for when the effects wear off.
If things become too intense, try moving about, changing the music, or talking to the sitter. Breathe deeply and slowly, and wait for any overwhelming feelings to pass. Fighting against them is only likely to make things worse.
Considering a Psychedelic Trip, but Currently Taking Antidepressants?
Recent research suggests that psychedelics could help with a range of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, OCD, and addiction. Therefore, some individuals may be considering using them alongside antidepressants.
However, preparing for a psychedelic trip while taking antidepressants is a complicated process. It may involve weaning off the antidepressant, which should only happen under close medical supervision.
Furthermore, depending on the type of psychedelic and antidepressant, there could be various adverse effects. In general, we would not recommend trying this combination without consulting a knowledgeable physician or psychiatrist first.
For more details, see our article on Taking Psychedelics While on Antidepressants.
Final Thoughts on Preparing for a First Psychedelic Trip
It is hard to know what to expect during a first psychedelic trip. However, proper preparation is the best way to get the most out of it and reduce the risk of being overwhelmed. In particular, it is essential to remember the six S’s:
Consume psychedelics in a positive frame of mind, comfortable environment, and with trusted guides or sitters. And remember than any unpleasant sensations that arise are temporary and can be a valuable learning opportunity.