Never Mix Psychedelics With Alcohol
While alcohol can dull the hallucinogenic effects of LSD, it can sometimes exacerbate the effects of psychedelic drugs, leading to panic, fear, and sometimes, outright hostility. “When people mix psychedelics with alcohol, that’s when Zendo sees the most violent and aggressive people,” says Gael. It’s a mistake first-timers often make because they decide to try their first psychedelic after they’ve already been drinking, or neglect to let the drug take effect before they add alcohol to the mix.
Know That Psychedelics Can Bring Up Past Trauma
Psychedelics have a way of bringing up memories of a past trauma (including abuse and assault), which is a quick path to a bad trip. Other times, users will simply feel like they’ve gone crazy. Trip-sitters work with people to tune into these traumatic emotions and talk about them. If someone is freaking out and afraid of dying, a volunteer responds with questions like “Why do you feel that way?” “What will happen if you die?” or comforts with “I see your arm. Do you see it? Can you feel your pulse?”
“Curiosity is the opposite of fear,” says Gael. “We talk through and not down to the guests. You can’t say ‘Oh, you’ll be okay’ or ‘Calm down.’ [But] asking clarifying questions helps them verbalize and release some of that energy.”
In some cases, however, psychedelics can catalyze the onset of irreversible psychosis. Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder don’t normally present until someone is in their early to mid-20s. Although research is divided, there are anecdotal reports suggesting that psychedelics can put these dormant disorders into motion. As Gael explains, “you need to have an ego in order to dissolve it,” which is why anyone without a strong sense of self-identity will be negatively affected by psychedelics.