Psychedelic Safety: Should You Trip Alone on Psychedelics?

When working with psychedelics, safety always comes first. It is never recommended to trip alone on psychedelics, especially for inexperienced participants. Even for participants who are very experienced, emergency situations can arise that require immediate attention from a sober person. Some level of supervision is always the safest option. At the same time, there are some occasions when tripping solo, while also under the care of a sitter, is preferable to a group setting or ceremonial setting. In this article “tripping alone” means tripping by yourself under the care of one trusted, sober sitter, but without other companions who are also tripping.

Should you trip alone on psychedelics? If “alone” means you are without a sitter, no, you should not. Each substance has its own risks and having a bad trip can be psychologically damaging, particularly if you do not have adequate support. Always enlist the help of a trusted trip sitter.

It is always important to consider your (mind)set, setting, and sitter when preparing fora psychedelic experience. Use the following guide to learn about the main psychedelic substances, which entheogens are optimal for solo or group consumption, safety tips for tripping with a sitter for company, and what to expect from each substance. 

Which Psychedelics are Available? 

Since gaining popularity in the 1950s, psychedelics have helped millions with a range of conditions, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression. 

Psychedelic substances include:

  • Magic mushrooms (psilocybin)
  • LSD
  • Ayahuasca
  • DMT
  • Iboga
  • San Pedro (mescaline)
  • MDMA
  • Ketamine
  • Salvia divinorum

These substances are powerful, and doses are often unpredictable. Tripping alone without a sitter leaves you vulnerable to accidents. If you are willing to face psychedelics head-on while having a sober trip-sitter to watch you while you are on your inner journey, you may rest easier knowing that the rational thinking is being left to someone that is grounded in reality. 

How Can Psychedelics Help You? 

What are the benefits of psychedelics? There are many reasons to take a journey with psychedelics. Many users claim breakthroughs in:

Millions of people have utilized the healing powers of psychedelics in the last seventy years (since their emergence in the 1950s, through 2021). Despite nearly a century of use, we do not know as much about these substances as we would like. However, the amount of research that is currently underway is extensive. Although research is still being done on the long-term effects of these substances, their healing properties have already changed many lives for the better. 

Which Substances Are Optimal for Solo Use Vs. Group Use? 

Although a trip sitter is always recommended, there are some substances that are more suitable for doing by yourself (under the watchful eye of your sitter), while others are best experienced in a larger group.

Best Substances for Tripping Alone

  • Psilocybin mushrooms – One of the best psychedelics for tripping individually (if done with a sitter in a safe home environment and you do not leave). You will likely become contemplative and may not feel talkative. You can trip with a group as well, and shrooms are known to be a bonding-substance that connects an intimate group. As with LSD, you should not trip with large crowds.
    The people you trip with should be:
    – Close to you
    – Loved by you
    – Not strangers 
    Strangers will seem terrifying in a mushroom-induced state, and you should always be around people you trust. 
  • LSD –  LSD is best experienced by yourself (with a sober sitter) or with a small group. Having a trip-sitter on hand is always recommended with LSD.  LSD can create a strong, potentially overwhelming experience and your decision-making skills may be impaired. Tripping alone on LSD can be terrifying for participants as they peak, and therefore it is important to have at least one person who can provide appropriate support and calm you, if necessary.
  • DMT – DMT can be extremely intense, causing a “white out” or “out-of-body” experience. It is crucial to have a sober trip-sitter. Always ingest DMT safely on your bed or a soft place, as you are likely to fall backward or forward. You will not realize anyone else is around if you’re tripping.
  • Salvia divinorum – Referred to as ‘the legal-trip,’ salvia is a psychoactive plant that offers  an intense experience, similar to LSD and mushrooms. Salvia produces unique visuals with effects that last between 5-40 minutes. Always experience salvia in a safe environment with a sober sitter, as the experience can cause “white out” and disassociation. Be careful with dosages of salvia and start low. It is an extremely intense naturally-occurring psychedelic, as stated in this Study on Salvinoin – Intense Dissociative Effect, Blocked Sensory Perception from the 2015 Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Best Substances for Tripping in a Group

  • Ayahuasca – The strong purgative effects on a physical and psychological level require a shaman or experienced facilitator. The shared music and energy of a larger group (5-20 people) is often helpful for creating a strong container for the intensity of an ayahuasca experience. A shaman will blow smoke on you, sing icaros (special songs), and help open up channels of repressed trauma. People in the group may cry, laugh, or express past pain in various ways, which can support and enhance your own inner journey. Because ayahuasca can be extremely overwhelming, it is never recommended to drink ayahuasca alone, although there are many anecdotal reports of solo ayahuasca experiences in the psychedelic community. 
  • LSD – Also popular in group settings, you should not trip with more than a few people (again, they should be people you know and trust). Even in a larger group, it  is recommended  to have a trip-sitter present (one that is sober). The ‘Imposter Syndrome’ is a feeling cited while tripping in groups, often characterised by feeling as if someone is lying or fake. LSD can lead to imposter syndrome and other intense social experiences that are unpleasant.
  • MDMA – MDMA is considered an empathogen, rather than a classic psychedelic. MDMA has strong heart-opening properties and will make you more social and empathic. MDMA is being used in psychedelic therapy, sometimes with two sitters. However, it can be especially beneficial when consumed with your romantic partner as a couple, or in a larger group with close friends.
  • San Pedro– Served as a tea, San Pedro (huachuma)  is an entheogenic plant used by indigenous peoples of the Americas as part of a spiritual ceremony. San Pedro is normally consumed with others in the context of a ceremony. The purpose is primarily spiritual and the plant leads to feelings of greater awareness and mystical connection to nature and others.
  • Iboga – A psychedelic shrub that originates in Gabon, Africa, iboga is an incredibly potent psychedelic and should never be consumed without professional guidance. Preparation for iboga should include a medical clearance prior to ingestion. Iboga is especially effective in treating addictions and substance-abuse, particularly opioid abuse. The iboga experience is the most long-lasting of any psychedelic and can last for 24 hours.  Iboga is typically consumed in a ritualistic ceremonial setting or within the context of a treatment center. 
  • KetamineUsed primarily in professional therapy. Ketamine is not a classic psychedelic, but has gained recognition for its therapeutic properties in recent years. Due to some legal loopholes, ketamine therapy in a professional setting is available in various parts of the world, including some US states. Ketamine has a history of recreational use, but is recommended for therapeutic use when guided by a professional.

Depending on your personality and intentions, the experience of  tripping alone, with just a sitter, or in larger groups can all be beautiful experiences, but it will significantly depend on the substance, settings, and nature of the group. 

Whether alone or not, each experience has its own healing qualities and degree of reflectiveness. Your question should be whether you are:

  • Ready to trip alone
  • Inclined to trip in a group of trusted loved ones
  • Interested in a ceremonial setting with a larger group
  • Not ready to trip at all 

How to Know if You’re Ready to Trip Alone 

If you’re not ready to trip solo, or trip at all, do not feel any internal or external pressure to do so. Allow yourself to be honest in this way and do not judge yourself or feel negative emotions.

If you are battling internal issues, do not feel as if you need psychedelic substances to work through these. Yes, psychedelics may help you. But they may not. Only you can determine this for yourself. Psychedelics are not recommended for people who have a personal or family history of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, psychosis, and bipolar disorder.

If you’re unsure of your “readiness,” questions to ask yourself, without judgement, include:

  • What are my preconceived notions of a psychedelic trip? Can I let these go to accept what it truly is?
  • What is my intention? What am I hoping to gain from this trip?
  • What do I want to learn about myself?
  • Are there any painful memories that I want to resolve?
  • Do I feel safer around people? Or alone?

Tripping Alone vs. Tripping with Others 

Tripping AloneTripping With Others 
Should still include at least one trusted, sober sitter, especially if it’s your first time.Can be overwhelming, especially if you feel you can’t verbalize your experience to your sitter.

You may enjoy quiet times more because your thoughts and emotions are the only ones you will be managing. When in a group, silence can feel like external judgement and uncertainty. 

More introspection: You can do whatever you want (from the safety of home or a secure location) Can be a more calm experience, without the triggers of other people’s trauma. Should only be done if you enjoy being alone. If you hate being alone, this will be amplified on psychedelics. 
Tripping in large groups or party environments can be overwhelming and frightening. Certain substances, like MDMA, will make you feel cuddly and want to be with other people, while drugs like LSD and shrooms can be too intense for this. 

You may enjoy quiet times less. The experience will feel very intense in groups. Moments of silence in a group can feel terrifying on substances that are heightening your reality and sense of your surroundings. 

Less introspection: You can’t do everything you want, up to the shifting-free-will of the group (in a state where their decision-making skills are hindered). Emotions outside of your own can feel amplified. If you don’t want to work through someone else’s past trauma, you should not trip with them. 

Depending on the substance, you may become paranoid with other people or love the high energy of a group field. Your general preferences when sober and your intentions offer clues to your experience while on psychedelics.

Major Factors That Could Influence Your Trip 

If you are not comfortable sharing the emotions that can (and likely will) bubble to the surface, you should not trip with a larger group. Ask yourself if you are comfortable with sharing these deep feelings with your closest friends and tripping-mates. 

Some factors that can influence your trip are:

  • Childhood traumas
  • Insecurities and feelings of inadequacy
  • Relationship fears can emerge if tripping with that person 
  • Brutal honesty that the other person may not be able to handle while tripping
  • Burdens you’ve carried for too long or bottled up
  • Anything that feels buried beneath the surface is likely to emerge while on a psychedelic substance. 

If you don’t want to share these with others, you should trip alone, with just a sitter. 

Tips for Tripping Alone

  • Have a trip sitter – We’ve mentioned this tip many, many times because this is part of a basic safety protocol. Having a sober sitter is the safest way to ensure that you won’t make a dangerous or destructive decision. Having a sober viewpoint can ground you and provide a calming influence during a challenging experience. Just having one trusted person beside you can improve the quality of your trip if you start to feel isolated.

Even if you want them in a separate room, you may be comforted by someone simply being there and being aware of the fact that you are not in a normal headspace. 

  • Breathe and stay calm – While peaking during your journey, many experience sensations such as:
    • Increased heart rate
    • Sweating
    • Shaking and body tremors
    • Throwing up or diarrhea
    • Feelings of uneasiness and panic 

If you can’t self-soothe and comfort yourself to some degree through this – You should NOT trip (not just alone, but you should not trip AT ALL). You must be able to calm yourself and say:

  • This is temporary.
  • This is just the substance while I peak, nothing more.
  • The comedown will be calmer.
  • I am in control of my emotions.
  • I am in control of my body.
  • I can breathe through this.

A sitter can assist you with this, however, if you can’t work through the difficult steps on your own at some level, psychedelics are not recommended. Building a daily meditation practice can help build these skills. Even five minutes a day of mindfulness meditation is good practice for psychedelic journeys. 

  • Meditate – A meditation practice prior to your trip builds crucial self-soothing skills.  During your trip, meditation is an excellent way to center yourself.  You don’t have to converse or entertain others; you can breathe and reflect. Use this time to inspect your heart and soul, feel your vibrations, and become attuned to the world around you. 
  • Be outside – Nature is the highlight of any trip. Most entheogens are at their most effective and beautiful when enjoyed:
    • Under the stars
    • In the sunshine
    • Near trees and flowers, etc.

Don’t stay cooped up indoors the whole time, but also don’t wander away from your secure location or your sitter. Cars are real, and things won’t feel as they seem during your visionary state. 

**DO NOT LEAVE THE SAFETY OF YOUR IMMEDIATE ENVIRONMENT**

Tips for Tripping in Groups 

  • Have a sober trip sitter – As with solo trips, group trips require supervision. Consider having at least one sober sitter for every four people who are tripping. They will be your sober guides and figures of reassurance in a very disorienting experience. Experienced sitters are essential because they have navigated the space themselves and you won’t feel judged; they will understand what you’re all going through. 
  • Separate yourself if needed – Groups can be intense while tripping. Have a designated space set apart for anyone who needs time alone. Try not to create situations where anyone might feel judged, or it can be mistaken as a very intense feeling of conflict while you are tripping together. 
  • Have optional activities prepared Unless you are meditating together, silence can feel strange; the larger the group, the more strange it may feel. Before tripping, have ideas of what to do together. Ideas are:
    • Moving images, such as psychedelic screensavers
    • Make art: have supplies available for coloring, drawing, or painting
    • Beautiful objects or images, such as live flowers, family photos, or artwork
    • Music: live music with musical instruments or a carefully prepared playlist with inspiring, beautiful songs and sounds. Avoid harsh beats or discordant noises, as these can intensify a challenging trip. 

Tips for All Trippers (Alone & Groups) 

  • Start with a small dose – For those who are not experienced, start small. Always know your dosages. See how you feel about the substance and how you react before pushing the boundaries of reality.  If you hate the sensations you experience, you will have a shorter, more bearable experience. If you can handle it, you can push slightly further next time. 
  • Know your source – There are tester kits out there to sample the quality of your substance if you are afraid of anything extra that could be in the substance. If you suspect that it might be laced with something else, do not take the substance. 
  • Wait a while between trips – Each trip will offer its own lessons and takeaways. You should marinate on your insights for a while before trying to recreate the experience. If you had an amazing breakthrough, it is natural to want to do it again! But too many sessions in a short time can undo all of the work you’ve done or ruin the memory of the first great experience. Give yourself time to utilize the lessons you’ve learned before trying to dip your toe back in the pool too soon. It is recommended to wait at least a few weeks between psychedelic experiences, if not longer. 
  • Don’t trip with (or near) those that disapprove – While tripping, don’t call Mom or someone that would likely disapprove of your explorations. The potential shame and other emotions can feel powerful and remove you from your focused state of self-reflection. These substances are tools for growth that heal anxiety, depression, trauma, and addiction. If someone that you love doesn’t see that, it is not your problem. However, you should avoid talking to them (at least while in the middle of tripping). 

Conclusion

The decision to trip solo, versus tripping in a larger group experience, is one that is intensely personal. Factors that influence this decision include the substance, your experience level, your personality, and accessibility. If you are comfortable with yourself, it is possible to have a great trip alone, or with one sitter. Those who crave more interaction and a more expansive energetic container are likely to thrive in a group setting. In both cases, it is wise to start small, with attention to set, setting, and dosage.