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What can you do with a "bad trip"?

Psychedelics have long been associated with fear of a «bad trip", Also called a psychedelic crisis. A psychedelic crisis is a period of anxiety and confusion triggered by psychoactive substances, most often classic psychedelics such as psilocybin / fungus and LSD, or cannabis. Many people just want to leave such an experience behind, but it's not always easy.

How does a "bad trip" occur?

A psychedelic experience is one hundred percent unique from person to person, time to time, and is said to reinforce mental processes. So all thoughts, good and bad, become more evident than before. In more controlled forms, for example, under the supervision of an experienced guide / therapist, you get help to prepare for these thoughts and help to work through the experience. This reduces the risk of a "bad trip" and it helps to provide security to cope with the experience. Maybe a bit like preparing to sail through a storm with an experienced captain who tells you what can happen and what you plan to do together in the various situations. And also one to be able to talk about the experience when the storm has subsided. Most people take psychedelics in less controlled environments, and many consider it a form of party baptism that one takes in a social or foreign setting. Some take it alone. Some take it to a concert. Especially in such situations, where one is thrown unprepared into the storm, someone comes out with a strong feeling of anxiety and in addition that one has not gained anything useful from it. If you get something useful out of it, you might call it something else. For example, a "challenging trip".

I will give an example based on a real experience here in a slightly simplified version, but it is important to emphasize again that such experiences are very unique. A man in his late 30s, whom we might call Trond, has taken LSD with some friends after drinking some beer. They are in an apartment and none of them have tried this before. They are a little unsure of the dosage, so "clings a little" to be sure they have an effect. It starts with an hour-long laughing ball before things turn a bit. Trond feels tense and tired, but fails to relax despite lying down and closing his eyes. He finds it difficult to understand time and fears that what he experiences will last forever. The fear of being trapped in this purgatory is compounded by the fact that friends seem strangers and cannot explain to him what is happening. Trond lays under a blanket and stays there until the experience is over and he decides to go home. The friends conclude that they must have received some "bad acid" and talk nothing more about that experience afterwards. Trond describes this as a "bad trip", has nightmares on a regular basis and feels unwell when he thinks about it.

Turn a "bad trip" into a challenging experience

We are now moving into what is called psychedelic integration. Integration can be described as analyzing an experience and using the insight gained, negative or positive, to find meaning in it. Since psychedelics are said to reinforce internal processes, one can use the momentum that a psychedelic experience has given to examine the underlying causes. You can talk a little about the experience with a therapist / integration coach or someone who has some experience or understanding of such experiences, so you can bring the experience back into the light. If you have had a very traumatic psychedelic crisis I would advise people to go a little cautious at first and look a little grounding / grounding techniques to have some support wheels clear. In addition, it may help to read other people's interpretations and stories about psychedelic experiences. There are many words written about such experiences and if you read a bit by different writers, you will probably find some words that will have an meaning for you.

We can go back to the example of Trond. Trond visits an integration therapist to get rid of the nightmares. The integration therapist explains how such an experience is often based on existing mental processes, and that they are not a result of LSD per se. The therapist asks Trond if he can try to see the experience in a different light and why exactly he experienced what he did. Trond finds it difficult to remember the details of the day and the therapist asks if he can guide Trond through a guided meditation exercise to visit the experience again. Trond accepts. After the meditation exercise and some time to think about, Trond has a clearer memory of what happened and Trond draws the conclusion that he has never really managed to completely relax in life. He works too much and is unable to sit still without constant stimuli, which goes beyond his relationship with his family. He decides to take an extra long vacation with the family and sign up for a meditation course. Three months later, Trond feels that this has improved his life situation and that the LSD experience, despite being extremely challenging, finally gave him something he needed.

This is an example of an integration process, somewhat simplified. As the experiences are as unique as people are different, the personal conclusions will vary greatly. And the integration process must be adapted accordingly. But there are ways to integrate a psychedelic crisis afterwards and draw lessons from a powerful experience.

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