Bad trips with LSD, 'shrooms, and hash

Originally Published: November 1, 1993 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: May 21, 2009
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Dear Alice,

I am writing to you regarding drugs. I have always enjoyed dropping hits of LSD, liquid or tabs (never the junky stuff with plenty of strich in it that's here in New York. I always get it sent to me from northern California — Berkeley or Santa Cruz). I've never been a big 'shroomer though. A couple of months ago I did some 'shrooms with my boyfriend at our apartment and had a really bad trip — my first ever — and it was tres scary: I lost completely my sense of reality and felt at once like I was just a part of someone's dream and that when they woke up, I would die into nothingness, then I reverted back into a childlike state, and even though I was a happy child, I still had no grasp on reality. I didn't trip for a couple of months and then a few weeks ago, I was with two of my girlfriends and we made some hash brownies — I had another awful trip, and even though it was more physically sickening, I still had terrible thoughts while I was tripping.... For many months, I have been having a rough time with my boyfriend, whom I live with. Could this be affecting my trips? We also used about half an ounce of hash in three small brownies, and I had more 'shrooms than my boyfriend did. Could the quantity be affecting me adversely?? All of my friends have told me that one of the reasons I must enjoy tripping so much lies in that I am a strong person and don't lose myself when I trip like some people do. I just have fun and usually get horny... Does being a strong person have anything to do with it? I am trying to figure out why I'm having bad trips. What am I overlooking, and will I be able to have happy trails again? What do I need to be doing?? (And, please don't say I should go into rehab....) Thanx.

Dazed and Confused

Dear Dazed and Confused,

So you've ventured through the looking glass to see what's on the other side… while it's not clear why your trips have suddenly gone bad, there are a number of possible factors to consider. The dope and purity (or lack of purity) could certainly be a part of the scenario, but unless you run your supply through lab tests before you use it, the effects may be hard to pin down. In any case, whenever you're on psychedelics, there's almost always a moment of panic — a moment of, "Will I ever see the world the same way again?" or "Will the world ever see me the same way again?" These panic thoughts can last for moments or for what seems to be a lifetime. For people who like to trip and do it often, these feelings usually last for moments. When it starts to feel like the anxiety and fear are lasting a lifetime, it's usually time to stop tripping. Why trip if it's no fun anymore?

Your stress level, your relationship with your boyfriend, your school pressures, your mood going into the trip — all of these cloud one's mind and may affect your state when tripping. Have you considered taking a break, cleaning up your daily life, and then seeing how you feel? Do you still need the drugs? Have you experienced enough tripping to alter your perceptions in a positive, lasting way? Do you want to try one more time, in a safe, supportive environment? Or are you entering a new phase of life, with increased awareness and sensitivity because of your previous use? These questions may help you clarify the relationship you have with hallucinogens.

While we will honor your request to refrain from recommending rehab, we will take the opportunity to plug professional assistance or twelve-step groups — whether it's short-term counseling and guidance or long-term rehabilitation — as an option for anyone who wants to cut back, or cut out, drug use. Such an endeavor is often very difficult to go alone, for reasons that sometimes have little to do with the drugs themselves. Having some help (like a coach) or taking a break from "regular" life for a while — may be the only way to get back to where you want to be.

Alice