Sunday, July 14, 2024

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. It is always advisable to enlist the help of a trusted trip sitter.

It is always important to consider your (mind)set, setting, and sitter when preparing for a 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 supervise while you are on your inner journey, you may rest easier knowing that someone nearby 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. 

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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

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