The term good trip is an ambiguous one. Many people define a good trip as one that they learn something from but we're going to keep it simple here and define a good trip as one that is; overall positive, achieves its purpose, and doesn't involve any freak-outs, overdoses, major trauma, trips to the hospital, arrests, accidents, or other tragedies.
There are four components that determine the direction of a trip. They are:
Different drugs have different effects. Begin your trip with prior knowledge of the drug you are about to ingest as it is never good to be surprised. Once your tripping its too late to change your mind.
The amount of the drug you take has serious influence over where the trip will go. Some drugs, like the dissociatives, change their effects completely at different dosages. It is good to begin with a low dose of any new chemical and work your way up to higher doses over the course of several trips as you become more familiar with the way it effects your body.
This is perhaps the most important of the four. What you bring into the trip with you is what you have to work with. Your health, mental and physical, can determine how the drug makes you feel. Someone in better physical health, for example, will be less disturbed by a little nausea or muscle aches. The mental state you enter the trip with; however, is everything.
Most psychedelic drugs intensify moods, so a happy person may feel euphoria from acid whereas a depressed person can be sent toppling into a hell of fear, anger and sadness. Pre-existing mental conditions can be triggered and brought to the fore of your psyche by any intense experience, and psychedelics are DEFINITELY intense.
Be wary if you have or exhibit symptoms of any mental illnesses, especially things like schizophrenia, epilepsy, manic depressive disorder, multiple personality, etc. People with these illnesses are very likely to become a danger to themselves or others while under the influence of psychedelic drugs. Other things to be careful about are interactions the drug may have with any medicines you are on; particularly MAOIs.
The last of the four, and the one which can surprise you if you haven't planned well in advance is the setting. This is where your trip takes place at. It includes all of the environment, everything from the people you are with to the music that is playing. Take care to spend your trip with people who will remain positive, not do anything dangerous, and be interesting in conversation and ideas. Select music that you enjoy, but know ahead of time that it will likely sound very different while you are high. Sinister music can easily put a trip into a negative space so be careful. While you may love your new Death Zombie Cannibals album it could very possibly scare the living shit out of you while your tripping.
The environment you pick for your trip will have great impact on how you experience it. A clean comfortable room with lots of soft pillows, interesting art/posters/trip toys will generally provide a much better experience than a chaotic messy place with an odor that you just can't place but reminds you of a cross between a week old tuna sandwich and a pair of dirty underwear. Social settings and public places can be enjoyable on certain substances at certain dosages, but be careful, you would be advised to experiment with it at home first. Nobody wants to become the tripping fool who is freaking out and hitting people or being dragged away by security. If your at home, unplug the phones, lock the doors, and let people know your going to be unavailable for the duration of the trip. Nothing is worse than trying to talk to your grandmother while your tripping your balls off.
Now that we've examined the basics, lets take a look at specific intentions people have in mind when they trip.
Recreational use of psychedelics is both possible and acceptable. There are a few things to keep in mind.
Keep your dose low. On higher doses of these substances you have much less control of the direction your trip takes.
Pick a proper setting. Have good friends around you, to keep you out of trouble and help you if anything goes wrong. Be somewhere fun, and having something fun planned to do so that you don't become bored and stuck in your head.
Make sure your mental attitude is a happy one before you ingest. Be ready to have a good time, don't take the drugs if your stressed, upset or otherwise distracted. Recreational psychedelic use is only possible if your already having a good time anyways. And remember, "there are no insignificant psychedelic experiences. (Shulgin)" Just because you plan on having a good time doesn't mean your brain won't decide it wants to work through specific issues or show you a mystical experience. If this happens, don't fight it, flow with it. Keep positive. And make use of it.
Many people take drugs to work through inner questions, specific problems, and/or areas of their relationships with other people. This is perhaps one of the best uses of these drugs.
For these sorts of experiences, a low to medium dose is recommended.
Find a quiet place of solitude. It may help to be outside in nature, but a quiet room in the house with a stereo and a soft place to sit can be good too.
Work out ahead of time exactly what it is you want to try to deal with. You may want to write these issues down so that you don't forget them.
If you can find one, a therapist willing to talk to you while on these substances can be extremely helpful. If that is unavailable you might try a really close friend. Make sure whoever this person is knows what your intentions are, what your going to be on, and that they need to remain objective and not be overly critical on you. It would be preferable that they had experienced the drug before themselves, in fact some of the major psychonauts say this should be a prerequisite.
If your going to do this with a trip partner, especially if the purpose is to discuss issues of your relationships, you would be wise to set ground rules before you begin. Agree not to get angry about whatever is said or revealed, etc. Be prepared to be extremely open and honest with each other, and to be surprised or this can go downhill fast.
Some other recommendations are to record the details of your trip either by voice or by writing it down. Often it is in looking over such recordings in the morning that we find the solutions we were seeking.
Experiment with expressing yourself in art. Many of our finer pieces of literature, music and visual art were done "under the influence." This can be a powerful tool in getting in touch with your subconscious.
Donít make sudden decisions while tripping. For example, if you've been great friends with someone for years, but never romantically interested in them, now is not the time to decide that "Damn, she sure looks sexy" as many people have woken up the next morning wondering just why the hell they are naked.
Above all, remain very aware of your mentality throughout the experience. Deal with the issues as they arise, but don't dwell on them. Don't try to hard to control the direction of the trip, as it can often be futile, but don't let the direction of the trip control you either. Be mentally prepared for any possible consequences, and again don't enter the trip depressed, worn out, stressed, or angry as those things will only be intensified.
Attaining Mystical Union / Visionary States
Many people use these drugs because they fill a spiritual hole or gap in their lives; or because they enhance an already profound spiritual life. Gaining entry into these states is never entirely predictable and you can't take a drug and suddenly be "enlightened."
It is possible; however, to increase the odds that such an experience will happen, and to have a very spiritual experience by planning in advance.
Typically, the dosages necessary to reach these states are of the higher order, although they can occur on low and medium doses. The goal here, is to enter a world inside your own mind, where the normal boundaries of the body and its perceptions do not apply. Set must be positive, and holy. The people who have these experiences are generally those actively seeking some form of spiritual change or who are already spiritually grounded; however this isn't always the case. They do occur spontaneously, some people even have them without drugs, while shopping for groceries or doing their laundry. But this is the exception and not the rule.
A ritual or meditation performed as the effects begin is one of the surest ways to put a spiritual direction into your trip. Its also one of the easiest ways to ground yourself for any trip, period, and to prepare mentally. There are far too many methods of these for me to discuss them at length here, but it should be fairly easy to find a yoga, tai chi or Zen teacher in your area who will instruct you on how to meditate.
The setting should be somewhere sacred. Either in a beautiful natural scene, or a part of the house set up specifically for mystical experience. Candles, holy images, incense and soft, repetitive music can all enhance the setting, and help put the mind into the right frame of mind.
Now, lay back, close your eyes, and let your mind wonder where it will or try to quiet it. It really doesn't matter from here, the experience will happen or it won't. Be patient, it may take minutes, hours or it may not happen at all. If not try again.
These experiences can be euphoric and blissful, but they can also be terrifying. Be prepared for whatever may come, and know that if you have one of these experiences you will in all likelihood be changed forever.
If you begin to have a Bad Trip
Have some benzodiazepines on hand such as valium or xanax as they can help relieve anxiety and allow you to sleep. If these are not available, alcohol can work, though it may also make you sick. Be careful not too take too much of either one, and if using dissociatives be especially careful of things like respiration and heart beat.
I've often heard of people using GHB to take the edge off of a bad trip, but I've read several reports of a fugue state being entered when GHB is combined with psychedelics. (Read one of the more intense ones here http://www.erowid.org/experiences/exp.php3?ID=8635 ). Be wary if you do this, and use a low dose. GHB is one drug we still don't understand too well. It may also possibly cause increased risk of brain damage when used in conjunction with dissociatives. ( This Is Your Brain On Dissociatives http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/dxm/dxm_health1.shtml )
Keep your head. Don't do anything extremely stupid if you start freaking out. Your only going to make things worse. Try to stay as calm as you can.
Find something to take your mind off the negative aspects of the trip. Do something fun and distracting like turning on cartoons or changing the music. Sometimes something as simple as taking off your shoes or going into a different room of the house can have profound effects on the trips direction. It may be beneficial to get outside, but be safe and stay out of public view. If you have a backyard, or live in a quiet neighborhood then a quick walk can do wonders.
Find someone to talk to. Often just stating whatever is bothering you to someone else can allow you to move past it or talk it out. A listening ear is always good, and this applies especially to psychedelics.
Remember that it is just a drug. Sometimes all you have to do is remind yourself that you have taken a substance, you are experiencing the effects of that substance and it will soon be over. (Even if that "soon" feels stretched into psychedelic eternity, "real time" does continue to pass and it will end)
Keep in mind that these are all just suggestions, find what works best for you through trial and experimentation. Above all, be safe and have fun. Happy tripping!
[Edit: Fixed vB coding after upgrade Ė Orlando]