How to Take LSD Without Losing Your Mind

a man putting a tab of LSD into his mouth, with light reflecting onto his face
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LSD is a psychedelic drug that can produce powerful and long-lasting effects on the brain. Deciding to take LSD may be an overwhelming decision, especially if you’ve never done it before. This article will outline harm reduction practices for consuming LSD so that you can enjoy your experience without fear of compromising your mental or physical wellbeing.

Do Your Research

First, educate yourself so that you know what you’re getting into: LSD is a powerful hallucinogen that can produce altered states of consciousness. It’s important to know how it will affect your mental and physical well-being before taking any substances, so make sure not only to have an idea of its potential benefits but also to be aware of possible risks or dangers associated with psychedelics.

Researching the drug and its effects is an important step in harm reduction. It’s also important to know your own mental state and physical health before deciding whether or not LSD would be a good idea for you at this time, as well as how much experience with psychedelics you have had so far (if any).

Safety First

Deciding to take LSD is a personal decision, and everyone has different reasons for choosing to do so. However, there are some situations in which you should NOT take LSD:

  • You shouldn’t take LSD if you have a personal or family history of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or if you are currently taking any antipsychotic medications. These drugs may have negative interactions with psychedelics and can cause serious side effects like seizures in some people.
  • Don’t take LSD if you have a heart condition. LSD can affect blood pressure and heart rate, which may be dangerous in people with heart conditions.
  • Don’t take LSD if you are pregnant. There is no research on the effects of psychedelics in pregnancy, and it’s not known if these substances could harm an unborn child, so don’t risk the health of your baby for a trip!
  • It’s also important to know your own mental state and physical health before deciding whether or not LSD would be a good idea for you at this time. If you are in doubt about either of these things (or if it has been less than 24 hours since taking any other drugs), consider waiting until another time to try LSD.

There are a few other safety precautions you can take when preparing for your psychedelic experience. Don’t mix LSD with other drugs or alcohol, especially if you’ve never tried LSD before. Avoid driving for the duration of the day, as your trip could last up to an average of 12 hours (and sometimes up to 15 hours).

Set Your Intention

People decide to use psychedelics for many reasons. It’s a good idea to know what your reason is and try to keep that in the forefront of your mind. If it’s not just for recreational purposes, setting an intention is a way to attempt to set the tone for your experience. An intention is a statement, question, or affirmation that you can use as the basis for your psychedelic experience. Decide what your intention is for using psychedelics and write it down on a piece of paper. (Try to avoid using the notes app on your phone; consider turning your cell phone off during your trip to avoid distractions and possibly regrettable communications.)

Here are some examples of intentions that one may set before a psychedelic experience:

“I’d like  my experience to help me explore how I feel about…”
“I’d like to experience stillness and a connection with my inner self. What steps would be helpful toward this goal?”
“I’d like to heal past trauma from… What information do I need to start this process? ”
“I’d like to explore my relationship with…”
“What is the meaning of life? What would give my life more meaning?”

The possibilities are endless and really depend on what your end goal is. Whatever you decide, write it down before your trip begins, and try to come back to it as needed throughout the experience.

Prepare Your Space

Prepare for the experience by taking note of your set and setting.

First, now that you’ve explored your intentions, evaluate your mindset. Know that your present state of mind may have an effect on your trip, as well as any past traumas you may have experienced. These traumas may resurface during a trip, and that isn’t always a bad thing. Try to be open to whatever the experience is doing for you. This may even be a way to confront those past traumas to begin the healing process. If you have a therapist, maybe you can get scheduled during the week after the trip to discuss any traumatic memories that might have come up.

Find a safe, comfortable place to take LSD. This can either be in your home or other safe, indoor environment, or in nature. The set and setting of your experience will greatly impact how the trip goes, so make sure to prepare a space that is comfortable for you with all the things you might want or need.

Some items to consider having on hand include:

  • a water bottle or some juice with electrolytes to help you stay hydrated, as LSD can be mentally taxing (and therefore dehydrating) and may cause temperature dysregulation
  • light snacks in case you get hungry; it’s ok to eat snack on LSD because it is absorbed through the membranes in the mouth and not the stomach, and you might need some fuel at some point due to the long duration of the experience
  • an eye mask and/or headphones  if you’d like to have a calm, quiet more internal experience
  • a meditation pillow
  • a poem or music that you may want to listen to
  • a journal and pen in case you want or need a way of expressing (and remembering) your thoughts during the experience

An average LSD trip can last for up to 12 hours, so make sure you have enough time and space for your experience. Maybe plan the next day to rest and recover.

Know the Possible Risks

While most people who use LSD have positive experiences, it is possible to have a “bad trip”. There is a chance that you may experience flashbacks, which are memories or images from past experiences. These can be positive flashbacks, but they can also cause you to return to traumatic experiences that you’ve had throughout your life.

If you’re having a bad trip, it’s important to remember that the effects of LSD will wear off. You might feel like the trip is lasting forever, but it actually isn’t, and it will end. Often a bad trip can become a positive learning experience if you can find someone to talk to about it, to help integrate the whole experience more.

Have a Sober Guide or Sitter

A sober guide (sometimes called a sitter) is a trusted, sober person who can accompany you throughout the entire duration of a trip. Having a sober guide with you for the entire experience can help you to stay grounded and safe. They can help remind you of your intention if you start to feel particularly uncomfortable or start experiencing a lot of anxiety. A sober guide should always be someone that you know and trust.

If a sober guide is not available, make sure that someone knows where your trip will take place and what you’re doing so they can come to find you if necessary or call for help in an emergency situation (i.e. a bad reaction). If you’ve never taken LSD before, it’s a good idea to wait until you do have a sober guide available, especially someone familiar with LSD,  since you don’t know how you may react to the drug.

Even if you prepare yourself thoroughly and take all the precautions listed above, there are no guarantees that you won’t have a bad trip. Even people who are experienced with psychedelics and have taken LSD before could end up having a bad trip. Do what you can to minimize that risk, but know that even if you do have a bad experience, it won’t last forever. Some trips initially thought of as bad could change a person’s life for the better.

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