Cristiana Vale Pires, Ph.D.
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Inês Macedo
Latest posts by Inês Macedo (see all)

Some people have been taking this time in isolation and the slowing down of day-to-day hustle and bustle to engage with psychedelic substances (LSD and magic mushrooms, among others). However, during the lockdown, there are important shifts in the set (your mental state) and setting (your surroundings) that must be taken into account.

If you are preparing to use a psychedelic in quarantine, consider the tips we have for you:

Prepare, So Everything Will Go According to Plan

1. Do you feel good?

Don’t just look around you; look inside yourself, too. Take time to understand your feelings. The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken our lives. People are concerned and anxious, having to deal with big changes and uncertainty. How are you feeling?

Some people are using psychedelic experiences to relax and process negative emotions. For others, the psychedelic experience has the potential of aggravating the situation.

Some people are using psychedelic experiences to relax and process negative emotions. For others, the psychedelic experience has the potential of aggravating the situation. Before embarking on the trip, engage in introspection. Can you enjoy it without flipping out?

2. Do you have someone with you?

The best way of guaranteeing a pleasant psychedelic experience is having a trustworthy friend with you. That way, if you are faced with any challenges, you can be sure you’ll have the help you need to conquer it. If you are alone, consider whether you really want to risk it.

If you are at home with family and are not comfortable sharing the experience, it may be a trigger for anxiety. Try to guarantee you will not have to worry about that.

If you don’t have company, but would still like to have the experience, it’s important to have someone to call. Pick someone you can trust and inform them of what you’re doing.

3. Avoid trying new substances

This is not the right moment to take psychedelic substances you are not familiar with.

This is not the right moment to take psychedelic substances you are not familiar with. You won’t know the best dose for you and you can’t predict how you’ll react in the unique quarantine context, a moment of extreme uncertainty for everyone. Whatever the case, avoid psychedelic substances if there is a history of mental illness either with you or in your family.

4. Prepare for your experience

Psychedelics can take you to unexpected places through unknown paths. You can never be completely sure where you are going, but you can still prepare for the journey.

5. Prepare the space around you

Clear away objects and furniture you may hurt yourself on. Arrange the space so you can move freely and pick a comfortable place to sit back and relax when you want. Prepare a playlist you might want to listen to during the experience. If it is your first time, start by choosing calm, instrumental music that won’t distract you too much. Allowing yourself to delve into your mind might be better than concentrating on music (see some suggestions here).

Plan creative stimuli. It’s normal to have creative ideas during the psychedelic experience. Place the pen, paper, guitar, or whatever you prefer close to you so you don’t have to interrupt the experience looking for it.

Prepare a drink you enjoy, tea or other refreshment, so you don’t have to waste time in the kitchen making it during the experience. Consider what you like and prepare a quantity you judge to be enough for the rest of the day, as the experience may last some hours.

6. Consider what you will do if the experience becomes challenging

Will you write or draw what you are feeling? Some people feel externalizing the experience helps; others prefer to look at inspiring images or watch cartoons, for example.

Travel Safely

1. Consume low doses

We are living in an intense moment in time where everything is different from what we knew. For that reason, you may not be able to anticipate how you will react. Use a low dose to ensure the experience will not be too strong.

If it is your first time, seek reliable information about doses and err on the low side. If you are not sure of the concentration of the substance you have available, don’t use it; this is not the moment for surprises.  

2. Avoid mixing

This advice is relevant for any situation, but it is especially important in the tense situation we are living in. Take the time to research the effect each substance has on you by using them one at a time. This also has the benefit of making your substances last longer, as it may be difficult to find more.

3. Take care of your body

Stay hydrated. Water, tea, and juice are the best options.

Also, avoid complicated manual labor. If you feel like making a cake, moving a shelf, or hanging a painting, it might be better to make a note of it and get to it later.

Rest, have a shower, sleep, eat. The important thing is feeling good.

The psychedelic experience is intense and demands a lot of your body. After it passes, reconnect with your physicality and listen to what your body is asking for, as these needs vary from person to person and from experience to experience. Rest, have a shower, sleep, eat. The important thing is feeling good.

4. Enjoy the experience to the fullest

Make the most of the psychedelic experience. Live it creatively: dance, paint, draw, and write whatever you think. For a lot of people, keeping a record of the experience is a very enriching technique.

Allow your emotions to be expressed: cry, laugh, don’t repress what you feel. But keep your setting in mind so as not to worry your neighbors. In this phase, where almost everyone is at home, think about noise control to avoid having to deal with unwanted interruptions.

5. Keep calm

If the experience becomes upsetting, remember: it will pass. Wait it out. You may think you’re losing your mind, that the experience will never end, or feel panic or paranoia. But the psychedelic effect is only temporary, and everything will return to the way it was. So, take a deep breath and wait.

Search for stimuli that bring you a feeling of peace and the experience’s challenges will subside.

A way to succeed in the challenge could be switch your surroundings, as the psychedelic experience makes us extra sensitive to outside triggers. Move to another room in the house, turn the lights on or off, change your playlist. Search for stimuli that bring you a feeling of peace and the experience’s challenges will subside.

Breathe. Focusing attention on your breathing pattern is a way of dissipating stronger emotions and calming yourself. Allow yourself to understand what is happening with your body and pay attention to the physical sensations you may experience. Feel the air going into your lungs and notice how they expand to then deflate slowly. Be conscious of this repetitive movement.

Ask for help. If you cannot return to feeling calm, do not hesitate to say so. The person you arranged to contact is waiting to help you.

Save The Best of Your Experience

Give yourself time to integrate the experience. Integration is the process that allows us to learn from the psychedelic experience. [es5] It is common to have revelations about feelings and inner conflicts, and even to learn something new. It is important to have time for this process: this is what makes the experience an opportunity to get to know ourselves better.

—-

Editorial Note:

This paper was translated by Joana Monteiro.
Kosmicare has psychological support and harm reduction appointments available for free: consultas@kosmicare.org


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