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How Should I Talk With A Friend About Their Ketamine Use?

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How Should I Talk With A Friend About Their Ketamine Use?

Do you have suggestions on how to talk to a friend who you think does too much ketamine too often? He seems fine, but I worry.

In my opinion, the first rule of talking to someone about their drug use is to ground yourself in respecting their process. The only time that I consider there to be an exception to this rule is if that person’s drug use is directly, tangibly, and negatively impacting your life in a way that you do not consent to. Everyone is ultimately responsible for determining their own limits, and sometimes their limits will be different than yours in ways that are hard to understand, so conversations like this need to be very thoughtful, gentle, and collaborative.

I suggest starting by asking him if he’d be okay with talking to you about ketamine. Consent first! You can tell him that you’ve noticed that he’s been using more of it more frequently, but stress that you’re not staging an intervention; rather, you just want to check in with him as his friend to see where he’s at with it. If appropriate to the dynamic, you can emphasize that you support his autonomy and you recognize that he knows himself better than you do. 

It’s possible that he will say that he doesn’t want to talk about it. If he does, that’s his call. You can tell him that you’re not here to pass judgment or quantify his use, and if he decides that he wants to reflect on his relationship with ketamine at some point in the future, you’ll be available with the intention of being helpful and supportive, not judgmental. 

If he does agree to talk about it, I’d ask questions first – how does he feel about the way he’s currently using ketamine? Is he familiar with ketamine bladder cystitis? Does he know how to recognize early signs of ketamine bladder cystitis? Does he want to talk more about the reasons why he’s using it so often? Does he want you to check in with him about this kind of thing in general? 

Note that there are some circumstances where people simply don’t want to know about the negative health effects of their drug of choice, and this kind of gentle check-in doesn’t always work. If they’re engaging in destructive behavior, being more straight-up may be more effective. You don’t have to hit him with rapidfire questions, but I think it’s important to approach this kind of thing with curiosity first and foremost. We make a lot of assumptions about other people and drugs.

From there, the conversation can mostly be a discussion of next steps around how you can have mutually supportive check-ins. I find that this kind of topic is most effectively discussed when it is clearly non-patronizing, loving, collaborative, and mutually supportive. When you come into a discussion like this with an end-goal, the other person can feel it. You really, truly have to be settled into the understanding that they may or may not do something in response to your concern.

This might sound pretty clinical in the way I’ve phrased it, but the bottom line is simply that you are his friend and you want to support him living a fulfilling life as someone who gives a shit. Make that known, and the rest will unfold as it needs to. And remember that you’re not here to save him.

My experience with DMT is that it lasts only a few minutes and then you come down. Is there a health reason not to smoke DMT more than once, maybe several times, during the course of a single day? How about 5 MeO?

Yes, DMT is a very short-acting drug. Part of the reason that it doesn’t last very long is because it is destroyed by MAO (monoamine oxidase) in the body. This is why orally ingested brews like ayahuasca and smoked herbal blends like changa contain an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) as well, which extends the duration of the experience. MAOIs, however, tend to pose significant interactions with various other drugs and even foods, depending on the strength. While this does not take place 100% of the time, it makes it far riskier to dabble in MAOIs if you’re co-ingesting medications.

Specifically in relation to health, there isn’t a particular reason that I’m aware of that would make it risky to ingest DMT repeatedly over the course of a day. Indeed, DMT vape pens are becoming increasingly common, which can make it easy to take low-dose hits on a rolling basis. 

If you’re looking to extend your experience, you might look into smokeable changa DMT + MAOI blends, though I hesitate to recommend this if you are on prescribed medications or taking OTC (over-the-counter) meds regularly. This is because interactions are complicated and you’d need to evaluate each medication individually. If this is something you’re interested in and you’re taking medications, talk to a psychiatrist or pharmacologist about the risks.

With 5-MeO-DMT, though, I would honestly be surprised if repeat use were desirable. 5-MeO-DMT, though similarly named, is not like DMT in its effects. It is hard to overstate the intensity of a 5 experience. There are many seasoned psychonauts who have said that they wouldn’t feel qualified to give it to anyone else. There are, of course, likely people who disagree and who experience benefit from repeat use over the course of a day, but I would wager that that is more of a minority experience.

DMT and 5-MeO-DMT are among the most powerful psychoactive substances on the planet. Underestimating either of them (but particularly 5-MeO-DMT) can drastically increase your risk of a traumatic experience. Personally, I strongly advise building a slow and steady relationship with either substances before pushing the envelope, and exercising particular caution and intention with 5.

I met someone I really like, but on our first date they suggested we take psychedelics together, and I’ve never tripped before. I’m scared to do it, but part of me feels like, “Why not?” Do you think it’s okay?

Wow. That’s a pretty ballsy first date. To be honest, my immediate gut reaction is to say, “I definitely wouldn’t.” But this comes with the important caveat that everyone’s experiences are defined by who they are as individuals. There is really no way to accurately predict what would happen. Therefore, my advice is going to be similar to any other situation involving psychedelics: You’ll need to check in with yourself – really check in with yourself – about whether you’re settled in the possibility that you could end up being pretty uncomfortable for one reason or another. 

There are lots of additional things to consider, though, too. When I’m advising about setting up a psychedelic environment, one of my first tips is to start off by only tripping with people you already really trust. Tripping can be an incredibly vulnerable experience. Some common examples of this: you can’t remember what you were talking about, you can’t communicate your emotions, and maybe you feel like you’ve peed yourself but you’re not sure how to confirm or deny. While some new connections are very comfortable and powerful, most of the time you feel best about being in such a stripped-down state when you’re with someone whose identity feels familiar and trustworthy to you. 

And then there’s the issue of which drug you’re planning on trying, and how much. LSD generally tends to be a little bit less emotionally driving than mushrooms, and therefore much easier to control in a social environment. On the flipside, it lasts twice as long. Even people who love acid get tired of tripping after it’s been eight full hours. 

Mushrooms can be pretty stoney or sedating for some people, and many find them to be more personal, introverted and spiritually inclined. These are broad generalizations, to be clear, and some people experience the reverse of the aforementioned effects. This is all to say that there are pros and cons to doing each substance with someone who is effectively a complete stranger. So each potential drug should be considered separately. 

I suppose the bottom line is: Use and the Erowid Experience Vaults to gain a fuller understanding of the drug(s) in question, and note that it is inherently riskier to do psychedelics for the first time with someone you don’t know. This risk is increased even further if you tend to become anxious or paranoid on other substances, are in a tough place personally, or don’t have a compassionate and knowledgeable support system you can lean on if things get weird. And things are ALWAYS weird with psychedelics.

About Your Psychedelic Auntie

When we have questions about psychedelics, we often consult our Auntie. An Auntie can be a person of any gender who offers wise advice about psychedelic substances and how to effectively use them. Lucid News is asking a collection of well-informed people to step in as Auntie and answer your questions about psychedelics. Some of the best peer-based, accurate information about psychedelic substances and harm reduction comes from DanceSafe, a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1998. DanceSafe provides health and safety services at festivals and events. This month, our Psychedelic Auntie is DanceSafe Programs and Communications Coordinator Rachel Clark. Send your questions to the Psychedelic Auntie via the Lucid News contact page and watch this space for the answers.

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