There are myriad ways to experience psychedelics, from clinical therapy to ceremony to recreationally out in nature. While there is no “right way” to do psychedelics, there are best practices that can increase the likelihood of a safe, meaningful, and perhaps even beneficial experience. Some of these practices include paying attention to set and setting—one’s internal, mental, and emotional state going into a psychedelic experience, and the external factors surrounding it—as well as considering whether to have a trip sitter or other form of psychedelic guide, having a plan for integration of psychedelic experience in its aftermath, and taking harm reduction techniques into consideration.
Things to Know
- There is no right way to do psychedelics, but there are best practices to help ensure a safe experience
- While there is common wisdom that applies to any psychedelic substance, such as setting an intention, some practices are also substance specific
- Preparing for a psychedelic experience also means having an integration plan in place before ingesting the substance
- The most basic tenet of psychedelic harm reduction—that is, reducing the potential negative consequences associated with a psychedelic experience—is founded upon taking set and setting into account
- Set and setting refers to one’s internal state going into a psychedelic experience, and the external factors surrounding it
Harm reduction refers to practical strategies aimed to reduce the potential for any negative consequences associated with substance use. The term applies to substances across the board, but with psychedelics, it has specific connotations. Some people prefer the term “risk reduction,” because it implies that not all drug use is harmful, but can carry risks.Read more about harm reduction.
Set and Setting
No two psychedelic experiences are alike, even if both individuals take the same exact dose of the same exact substance. This is in large part due to set and setting: an individual’s mental state and emotional landscape going into a psychedelic experience – and the external factors and environment surrounding them.Read more about set and setting.
Choosing a Guide
It’s common for people to take psychedelics with a trusted person or under the supervision of a professional. Psychedelic journeys can be turbulent and unpredictable. The person supervising may be called a guide, therapist, or trip sitter. If they are leading a ceremonial experience, they are often referred to as shamans. Sometimes this person could be a wise friend with experience using psychedelics or a spiritual counselor.Read more about choosing a guide.