A trip is a duration of intoxication from magic mushrooms or other psychedelic drugs, which you'd hope is pleasant. But sometimes, you can have a bad trip — an unpleasant experience during such intoxication.
More often than not, you won't truly know what a bad trip is until you have one. However, we'll go over what typically happens, the causes, and alleviation techniques to help you navigate this otherwise discombobulating time.
What Happens During a Bad Trip?
Psilocybin (the compound that creates the trip) changes your perceptions of yourself and the world around you. So much so that it can feel like you're transported to a strange, undiscovered land.
Anecdotal evidence says you can have wholly pleasant trips, trips that turn unpleasant halfway through, or completely undesirable experiences.
Okay, so what happens during a bad trip?
It's common for unpleasant thoughts, hallucinations, or sensations to happen while tripping. But those alone don't necessarily mean you're having a bad trip. After all, some users consider these experiences funny or exciting rather than frightening.
Essentially, a bad trip is any experience you have while on magic mushrooms that scares you or creates stress. It's incredibly subjective.
Unfortunately, there's no way to predict what will actually occur during your bad trip. However, sources state that these are some common signs and symptoms:
- Time dilation — Time seems to stand still, which may make you feel as though the bad trip will never end. Depending on how psilocybin affects you, your perception of time may disappear altogether.
- Paranoia and negative reinterpretations — Some users have said they no longer trusted those around them, causing them to panic and run away from people who they previously felt favorable toward. Such feelings can be all-consuming.
- Hallucinations — Typically, hallucinations while tripping on psilocybin are visual distortions like colored formations, illusions, or the walls "breathing." However, bad trips can involve vivid distortions, like a relative's face transforming into a demon. Naturally, this can be pretty disturbing.
- Mood swings — During a bad trip, you may reach all-new levels of sadness, despair, and panic. Although they pass, sources state that they're overwhelming at the time.
What Causes a Bad Trip?
Bad trips can happen to anybody using psychedelics. Although, some factors can make you more susceptible to unpleasant experiences than others, including:
- Mental health problems — If you or a relative has mental health problems, psilocybin could trigger unpleasant trips.
- Prescription medications — More research is needed to accurately state how magic mushrooms interact with prescription medications. Therefore, combining shrooms with them can cause bad trips.
- Your mindset — Embracing your psychedelic experience elicits fun, educational, or spiritual results. However, going into the trip with the wrong frame of mind (like trying to control the experience) could cause bad trips.
- Bad experiences — Climbing things, having sex with somebody unfamiliar, or looking in the mirror can bring unexpected and unpleasant results.
- Substance mixing — Taking magic mushrooms with any other substances can cause adverse effects and increases the likelihood of a bad trip.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again; everybody is different! So, it could be a combination of these factors that causes a bad trip.
How to Alleviate a Bad Trip for You or Someone Else
Luckily, there are ways to alleviate a bad trip if you or a friend are in the middle of one.
Keep in mind that the following tips and tricks are based on anecdotal evidence. In other words, they're techniques that have worked for other people in the past, including:
- Relax — Try to relax by meditating or breathing deeply. If your friend is the one tripping, help them calm down by breathing with them or guiding them through meditation.
- Safe environment — If you aren't already in a safe, calm environment, head to one. Do the same for your friend if they have a bad trip. Playing some calming music may also help.
- Surrender — When you're having a bad trip, it's tempting to try and control it. However, according to sources, you should attempt to surrender to the experience for the best results. You may find this dissipates the unpleasant trip. If your friend is struggling, reassure them that you're there for them and that the experience will pass, even though it may feel like it won't.
How to Prevent a Bad Trip
We probably aren't alone when we say we'd rather prevent a bad trip than try and stop one once it's started. And while there isn't a foolproof method, avid shroom lovers have noted a few things that seem to set you up for a good trip.
Firstly, you should stay away from places or people that you could find upsetting. Make sure you're around people you trust, and the environment is comforting to you.
That said, busy public places aren't the best option. Why? Because they can be over-stimulating when on magic mushrooms, increasing the likelihood of a less-than-pleasant experience.
Secondly, you shouldn't take shrooms if something is bothering you. As we mentioned earlier, your mindset plays a massive part in how your trip will feel.
Thirdly, plan well. Talk to those around you about what to do if you have a bad trip, and always purchase magic mushrooms from reputable sources.
The Bottom Line
As the name suggests, a bad trip isn't pleasant! However, you've got all the info you need to alleviate and (hopefully) prevent an upsetting experience.