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Have you ever experienced a bad trip and are now a bit hesitant to use psychedelics again? Quite understandable, because a bad trip can even be a bit traumatic. Especially if you didn't see it coming. But rest assured: you don't have to leave tripping completely. With these tips, you can pick up the threads of tripping after a bad trip.

What is a bad trip?

What constitutes a 'bad trip' is different for everyone. For example, people who have a negative experience with a trip drug feel uncomfortable or nauseous, to anxious and paranoid. Usually, a bad trip refers to someone having significant negative psychological reactions after using a psychedelic drug.

Know that the chances of going physically wrong are very small. Only 2 in 100,000 magic mushroom users visit the emergency room for medical assistance. What's more, if the news is to be believed, these are mostly tourists having a weekend off in Amsterdam. As a conscious user who follows the golden rules of a good trip, the chances of having a bad experience are zero.

What causes a bad trip?

So what causes a bad trip? There are a number of mistakes you can make when tripping, as you can read in this earlier article. Most mistakes revolve around the setting and preparation of your trip. This is because psychedelics amplify your experiences and feelings. Taking mushrooms in a stuffy dark room with people who are not good company is therefore not a good idea.

Expectations and mood

Often, your expectations also play a role in how the trip turns out. If you start out anxious about what's to come, these expectations may come true. So you colour your trip dark yourself, without really doing it consciously. So make sure you do not go into a trip overexcited or pushed by others. Feel free to wait for less stressed times or other company. If you are not feeling well physically, tripping is often not recommended. The negative physical experience can spill over onto your psyche, giving you a not-so-pleasant trip. And be careful when you have active psychological complaints. There is more and more research showing that tripping can help with depression, PTSD or anxiety. But if you are feeling really wobbly mentally, it is better to wait until your brain has calmed down a bit.

Medication and other substances

Some people like to smoke a joint, for instance, when having a magic mushroom trip. But combining a trip drug with other mind-altering substances is not for everyone. Where one person relaxes from weed, another quickly becomes too much. You may feel extra confused by an awkward combination. Something you might find a plus, but your trip buddy might not. Medication, such as for ADHD and depression, can also prove an unpleasant cocktail with psychedelics.

Getting back on the horse after a bad trip: here's how to tackle it next time

Having experienced a bad trip can be overwhelming and create reluctance for the next trip. Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to overcome the experience. Here are some tips:

See a bad trip as a lesson

Everything in life can be cast as a lesson, especially negative experiences. Try to work out what went wrong in that bad trip, and why. Was it due to your expectations, which more often than not turn out wrong? Do you have a lot of stress that you do nothing about? Do you barely have balance between work and play? Were the friends you tripped with not actually the right people for you? A bad trip can even be a reason to seek professional help. Tripping really does hold up a mirror to you. So don't look away from it, but pick up on the signals Mother Nature apparently wanted to tell you.

This thought can also help you during a bad trip. Remember that this experience is temporary, and look at the lessons you can learn from it. Keep a trip diary and write down what goes through you. Try not to slip into solution mode; after all, you are not sober, so there is no point. Leave those solutions for when you are lucid, and focus now on purely writing your thoughts off. Don't get stuck in it though, and don't seek out the negativity. Just let it be there, but not for too long.

Learn to relax better

If you are not doing well because you became anxious, work on relaxing in your daily life. Meditation, breathing exercises and mindfulness can be hugely effective. Cut back on uppers like caffeine, reduce stressors and take a critical look at what gives you relaxation and tension. It will also help you during the trip to know what is a relaxing setting for you. From music to lighting to surroundings and company: all are stimuli.

Options and escape routes

Knowing that you are able to turn the mood around during a bad trip is a good way to avoid it in the first place. After all, you know you'll be fine. That way, you'll already go into a trip session a lot safer. Make sure you can change your surroundings, get a trip stopper or arrange a trip sitter who can calm you down. If necessary, from a distance, by asking a friend to be on standby. Know when to seek distraction and what activities can turn your negative emotions around. For example, put on your favourite movie, focus on extensively brushing your cat, grab your craft supplies: it could be anything.

A final tip: simply adjust your dose and go for a light experience the first time after that bad trip. All that remains is to wish you lots of trip fun!