Safe Use of Psychedelics

The purpose of this site is to provide science-based information about how to safely use psychedelics. Following basic safety precautions dramatically reduces any risks.

Safety with psychedelics is important not just because these are powerful substances but also because creating a safe environment and approach will make treatment much more effective. Crucially, when psychedelics are used in a safe and comfortable setting, it becomes easier for people to relax and open themselves to the experience and gain the most benefit.

The most common psychedelics -- LSD, mushrooms, MDMA -- are far safer to their users and the people around them than drugs like alcohol, tobacco, and many prescription medicines. However, because of prohibition in many countries, there is far less available information and far more uncertainty about the sources and contents of psychedelic substances. Caution is very important.

Physical Health

We recommend psychedelics be taken only when you are in good health (unless you have decided to use it specifically to deal with an illness or in alleviating end of life anxiety). Those with heart problems should avoid psychedelics unless specifically discussed with a doctor. Pregnant women should not take psychedelics.

During a psychedelic experience, the mind/body connection is usually magnified. Any physical pain or discomfort (including something as small as hunger pangs) can affect the nature of the experience. Women should avoid tripping when experiencing menstrual cramps. If a woman typically experiences strong pre-menstrual symptoms (back aches, bloating, moodiness, headaches etc) it’s advisable to postpone the trip until they have subsided.

Entering a psychedelic journey with a comfortable and healthy body will help you toward a positive and meaningful experience.

For the advanced psychedelic user, a trip to deliberately investigate physical discomfort or pain may prove beneficial in understanding the mind/body connection and creating a deeper connection with your physical body.

Elements of a Safe Experience

Here are the some components of a safe psychedelic experience:

  • Careful Dosing
    It is absolutely essential to know the dose of the substance you are taking. Carefully weigh any substance and consult sites like Erowid.org to determine appropriate dose amounts. If you are unsure about the right dose level to begin or if you are feeling anxious, start very small and try more another day.
  • Trustworthy Source
    Be absolutely sure that you know what you are taking. Only use substances from a trusted source. Only take substances that you are confident are pure and high quality.
  • Comfortable Setting
    Always use psychedelics in a place where you feel comfortable and safe, like your home or a friend’s home. Make sure you have plenty of time to stay in the space for the duration of the experience. Feeling any time pressure can introduce stress or anxiety to an experience.

    Setup the room that you will be in so that it feels cozy and pleasant. Have a comfortable place to sit or lie down, have pillows and decorations. You may want to have some music to listen to as well (music without words is recommended, as it is less likely to pull your thoughts away).

    Keep in mind that going from place to place, being in a public setting, or dealing with logistical matters can be difficult while using psychedelics and can also be a source of anxiety. This is not recommended and can distract your focus.

When in doubt: be very cautious, don't rush, and start small.

Guidance

Don’t take a psychedelic for the first time without someone present who has experience with that substance. Make sure this is someone who you trust to help talk you through any stressful or confusing moments. Having trusted support is incredibly helpful for letting you feel safe and open to the experience. In addition, having someone around to help with practical needs (like getting you a glass of water) will let you focus on the process. Even if you have lots of experience with psychedelics, we recommend having a trusted person present (they don't need to be in the same room, just on hand).

Age and Mental State

We generally believe that psychedelics are most appropriate for people in their mid-20's and older. We don't know of research that has explored age-associated effects, but anecdotally, older individuals tend to take a more serious and intentional attitude towards psychedelic exploration.

If you have a dissociative psychological disorder, we do not recommend that you use psychedelics. Again, there is not good research on this topic and anecdotal reports are highly contradictory-- some people have had their conditions healed by use of psychedelics, others have found it has made their symptoms worse. We encourage you to err on the side of caution for these types of disorders.

Drug Interactions

Be sure to very carefully research any potential interactions with other prescription or non-prescription medicines or supplements that you are taking. In particular, anti-depressants, SSRIs, anti-anxiety, and anti-psychotic medications are not safe to take with psychedelics.

Sensitivity Test

Before using a particular psychedelic for the first time, you may want to gauge your sensitivity to it. Some people are much more sensitive to certain substances than others. One mushroom cap might feel strong for one person and very mild for another.

If it is your first time taking a substance, try to take a very small tester amount (less than 1/10th of a dose) a few days before your planned trip. You may not feel any effects, but you will be able to roughly judge your sensitivity if you do, and you may feel more comfortable when the time comes to take a standard dose.

Purity Testing

Several companies make purity testing kits for various substances, including MDMA and LSD. These can be found easily on Amazon.com or with a Google search. If you are uncertain about the purity of a substance, it's always better to test and be safe.

Safety Resources

  • Erowid.org
    A huge collaboratively created online database of information about various drugs, medicines, dosages, effects, research, and experiences. A good starting point for learning more about a particular substance.

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