Although it is not possible to “switch off” the effects of hallucinogenic drugs, a bad trip can be transformed into a more positive experience if the person having the trip is open to being supported or comforted. Often, lying down and listening to soothing music in the presence of a calm support person can help.
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
One of the earliest documented bad trips was reported by Albert Hofmann, the chemist who discovered LSD. He had started experiencing a bad trip, and in an attempt to soothe himself, requested some milk from his next-door neighbor, who appeared to have become “a malevolent, insidious witch.”
Previously positive or neutral interpretations of life or relationships can suddenly become negative. Someone having a bad trip might feel that their life is worthless, that they or someone else they normally feel fine about is bad or acting against them, or that the whole world is bad or corrupt. These feelings can be all-consuming and can cause the person having a bad trip to panic and try and get away from the people around them.
When people first start experimenting with psychedelic drugs, they sometimes go through a “honeymoon period” when they believe all trips are good. They might believe that they are “safe” from bad trips, that bad trips only happen to people with the wrong attitude, or that even that bad trips are a myth dreamed up by the establishment to try and discourage people from becoming enlightened or having a good time. Another common mistake is to believe that taking the drug with friends or a “guide” will prevent a bad trip.
Bad trips vary a great deal, from mild to intense, and can range from upsetting and overwhelming thoughts to frightening hallucinations and delusions that can lead to accidents.
Tip: Although acts of violence or self-harm are unusual while tripping, tell someone as soon as possible if you are having any thoughts about harming yourself or someone else — you are not thinking clearly and indulging in these thoughts may have regrettable consequences. If someone else who is tripping seems at risk of harming themselves or someone else, get help immediately. Call 911 if necessary.
The most intense period of the trip typically occurs from one hour to three hours after the drug is consumed, so time will usually ease the most intense aspects of the trip, but the effects will often continue for an additional six to twelve hours after that, during which time the person will not be able to sleep.
A bad trip is a highly individual experience, but these are some aspects that are often described by people who have had a bad trip:
A bad trip is an unpleasant experience that can happen after taking psychedelic drugs such as lysergic acid (LSD) or magic mushrooms.
With such a wide range of triggers for this discomforting situation, no recommendation will be 100% effective for every person, however, these tried and tested techniques have been known to help more than a few stoners in their time of need.
This will be followed by some stomach discomfort. The anxiety resulting from this is sometimes what leads people to throw up. This is why being prepared is important. Feeling anxious during a bad trip will only worsen the situation. Our stomachs are very deeply connected to our nervous systems, and these psychological responses will morph into physical ones if your ruminate over them.
Avoid loud music and loud conversations. Go outside and get some fresh air if you have that option. Close your eyes, as long as it doesn’t make you feel dizzy. Spending too long focussing on yourself won’t help the situation either.
How To Intensify Your Cannabis High
On some occasions, the cannabis high will feel a little overwhelming. What you experience will be different from what your friend does. However, one common symptom will be a numb feeling on your face, usually paired with sweat and a pale look. If you don’t know what’s going on, it is normal that you feel scared—especially when your friends start constantly reminding you how pale you look and asking if you’re ok.
Now that you know what you have to do for yourself, it’s easier to see what you can do to help a friend in the same situation. Bring your friend a soda or something to eat. Ask them if they want to talk to you, and if so, be patient. This is a person dealing with a lot right now, so don’t ask anything too specific and make sure to give them time to answer. Remind them of what they just smoked and that it will only last for a couple of hours, max.
But everyone’s bad trip will vary. You never truly know what’s going in your friend’s mind during a situation like this. Be respectful of what they’re going through. Let them know you’re there for them, but also give them space. People will sometimes feel sensitive and ashamed of being in a bad trip and will want to be left alone. Just make sure they know it’s ok and leave if that’s the case.
You’ve either heard about bad trips or you’ve just recently had one and want to find out more. Today, we’ll go through everything you need to know regarding bad trips and how to prevent and stop them!
It may be hard to believe this when you feel unbelievably high, but the feeling will soon pass. It’s highly unlikely you will become the first person to lethally overdose from weed, so there’s no need to fear of death. Remind yourself that you took a psychoactive substance and that your anxiety is taking over. Just relax, distract yourself, take deep breaths, and you’ll be fine. More on that later.
You never know when a bad trip might hit you. Learn more on how to prepare yourself for the event, and how to stop it in its tracks when it strikes.