Preparing for a psychedelic experience

Dr. Humphrey Osmond

The word Psychedelic was coined in 1957 by Canadian born British psychiatrist Dr. Humphry Osmond. He combined the Greek words “psyche” meaning "mind or spirit" and “delos” meaning "manifesting." The dictionary definition of the verb manifest is "to become clear or apparent" which is congruent with many reports of deep personal insight and creative epiphany gained through the use of psychedelic substances. Psychedelics are typically used in one of two contexts, recreational use, or therapeutic use. The altered state of consciousness induced by psychedelics is an experience that anyone can benefit from, if proper care and attention is paid to preparation. Psychedelics increase perception and self-awareness, while allowing the mind to freely and deeply explore your own psyche. It is a powerful, profound

experience that should be treated with healthy caution. The risk does exist of having a challenging or negative experience. While a "bad trip" can be intense in the moment it is important to remember that psilocybin is 

toxicologically one of the safest known substances, that the experience is temporary, and that a "bad trip" can be psychologically beneficial in the long term. Studies performed concerning "bad trips" at Johns Hopkins University have shown that 84% of participants, when interviewed 6 months after the experience, said that they had benefited from the "bad trip."

Although the risk does exist, for most users it is extremely negligible. The Global drug survey in 2017 found that 0.2% (2 out of 1000) of psilocybin mushroom users reported seeking emergency treatment after taking psilocybin mushrooms. This figure was comparatively 1.3% for alcohol and 4.8% for amphetamines. 

The most effective ways to mitigate the risk of having a "bad trip" are to increase your knowledge and awareness regarding; the effects and time-frame of a psilocybin experience, the proper dosage level (based on body composition and level of experience with psilocybin) and the important role that "set and setting" play in a psilocybin experience.

Psilocybin's effects can include euphoria, joy, confusion, discomfort, hysteria (laughing fits) synesthesia, altered thought process, altered sense of time, spiritual or mystical feelings of unity and connectedness, anxiety, out of body experience, intense emotion, and even contact/communication with either what the subject perceives as otherworldly entities, or are otherworldly entities.

Duration

4-6 hours

Onset 40-60

minutes

Typical dose

2-3 grams

Dosage is variable based on numerous factors, like body weight/composition, metabolism, and neural chemistry, however a good rule (for dried psilocybin mushrooms) is 1.5 grams per 100 pounds of body weight.

For quick calculation, multiply your body weight by 1.5, then move the decimal place to the left. It is also generally recommended to "start slow" until you are familiar with the experience.

Set. Your mindset and mind-state going in.

 

Your mental state going into the experience can have significant effect on the outcome. Make sure to set aside enough time to complete the 4-6 hour experience, try to not have plans or things you need to get done after your experience. If you are interested in resolving a particular emotional or psychological challenge in your life realize that this is a perfect time to analyze it. Consider writing your thoughts down. You will likely chuckle looking back on your notes.

 Setting. This refers to the physical environment you will be in.

 

Make sure you are in a comfortable, familiar, and safe environment. Studies at Johns Hopkins university have shown that visual and auditory stimulation play a crucial role in any psychedelic experience. The Psychedelic research department at Jonhs Hopkins have curated a playlist after 1000's of research hours therapeutically treating patients with psilocybin. This research has found that with adequate dosage music can significantly affect many aspects of a psychedelic experience.

Positive Effects 

 

  • Sensory enhancement and synesthesia (mixing of senses) eg hearing colours

  • Altered sense of time

  • Visual stimulation, closed eye pattern hallucination (often geometric patterns)

  • Unusual thought or speech patterns

  • Heightened self awareness and perception

  • Personal insight and reflection

  • Excitement and euphoria

 

Negative Effects

 

  • Temporary Cognitive impairment

  • Anxiety (due to unusual thoughts or feelings)

  • Confusion (due to unsual thoughts or feelings)

  • Discomfort (due to unusual thoughts or feelings)