That's Fuggin' Trippy, Man...
- Most of what people are taught about drugs is false
- Everyone should trip on one of the classic psychedelics at least once in their life
(LSD, Magic Mushrooms/Psilocybin, Peyote/Mescaline, Ayahuasca/DMT)
- The reason I say that is because they're proven to increase personality openness and improve creative problem solving ability longterm
- They're also effective for treating a number of mental health disorders such as PTSD, depression, OCD, and addiction when used under the supervision of a trained professional
- Most importantly, they're the only drugs other than ketamine that are empirically proven to induce a higher state of consciousness when measured by neural signal diversity
- However, certain medical risks do need to be accounted for
- There's also a set of general guidelines to prevent negative experiences
Today I wanna talk to you guys about one of my favorite things to do: Drugs.
Specifically, I wanna talk about a certain class of drugs called “psychedelics” which is made up of the stuff you hear about hippies using mostly: LSD, Magic Mushrooms, and Peyote. Now, normally I don’t advocate for people using drugs as a rule, but in the case of psychedelics I definitely think everybody should have one solid trip at some point in their lifetime.
I know, I know, the cop in your D.A.R.E. class told you that all drugs are bad and people who take psychedelics get all delusional and jump out of windows thinking they can fly. I need to tell you something, and you may wanna sit down for this cause it may be a little hard for you to process at first:
Almost everything that friendly, helpful police officer taught you in D.A.R.E. class was a lie.
The repetitive messages that were force fed to you in school then reinforced by a million PSAs and special episodes of your favorite sitcom were all propaganda designed to make you view drugs in a far more negative light than you would if you were taught the truth about them, and discredit drug users and/or people who talk about drugs in a positive light. Almost nothing you’ve been told about drugs and their users is a fair representation of the truth, and everything you think about drugs and their users is based on half-truths, exaggerations, and outright misinformation.
Don’t get me wrong, there really are some drugs that you should never ever touch under any circumstances because they carry the potential to severely fuck up your life. There's other drugs that are dangerously addictive if you use them too much or too often, even if using them in moderation doesn't produce life-ruining repercussions.
I've got too much ground to cover for me to spend effort classifying every drug, so that's an essay for another time, I'm also not gonna touch addiction today, I've talked about it in another essay, and I'll probably end up talking about it in a different one in the future. Psychedelics are totally non-habit forming, that's all I'm gonna say.
There are a few exceptions to my proposed "everybody give tripping a try, just one time" idea that I'm arguing in this essay. I'm gonna go ahead and put the disclaimer right here at the beginning.
By exceptions I mean:
People who are taking any medications should consult their doctor about possible interactions with their meds and the condition the meds are meant to treat.
Expect your doctor to advise against using illegal drugs, because legally he has to do that, but seriously the risks he’s gonna point out aren’t anything that the average person needs to worry about. For our good friend Average Joe, the main risks are bad trips and fake LSD.
I’ll talk about managing those risks in a second, for now I gotta elaborate on these exceptions some more...
People who are prone to psychosis should be especially careful, as there’s evidence that strongly suggests classic psychedelics can trigger psychosis in people who've got conditions that are a risk factor for that sort thing. Again, get a doctors opinion but honestly just make peace with the fact that you can't do the things safely so you probably shouldn't do them.
Psychotic episodes aren’t the only danger though. Because of how psychedelics affect serotonin levels in the brain, they can also trigger something called “serotonin syndrome” in people taking SSRI’s for depression, and I promise there’s other similar interactions with other drugs. The smart money is on checking with your doctor first if you’re taking any medication for any reason.
I didn’t bother looking into physical risks, but I know overdose isn’t a thing that’s reported from the “classic” psychedelics, namely LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, or DMT.
If you have a physical condition that tends to be a complicating factor like chronic hypertension or something of that nature you should get a doctor’s blessing.
If you’re pregnant, you should avoid using any drugs your doctor hasn’t specifically prescribed to you as a rule, and that means don’t trip till you’ve had the baby. There isn’t any proven effect on fetal development or statistical linkage to birth defects from psychedelics as far as I know, but there are some indications LSD can cause uterine contractions and induce labor prematurely.
It’s also highly likely that drugs'll get passed through breast milk, and it’s suggested you don’t breastfeed for 120 hours after using this sort of stuff.
I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but if you’re gonna trip, please get someone else to take care of your kids for a day.
So assuming you took all these warnings into advisement and we're all clear on that front, here’s why I think tripping is worth admitting to your doctor that you’re a dirty evil druggy drughead that does illegal drugs so you can get intoxicated:
For starters, I'm not advocating everybody just use just any type of drug they can get their hands on because it's a drug and I wanna see people get high. I'm advocating for people trying a specific class of drug just once in their life, because there's some really positive benefits associated with the experience.
Psychedelics are the only class of drugs I argue for using like this, and there’s tangible, proven benefits backed by research data that influences my decision to advocate for their use, as well as guidelines to follow in order to help get those benefits. (Cited references at the end of the essay)
I’ll get to the guidelines in a second. Before we get there, lemme show off my ability to research shit online and hopefully sell you on the prospect of going on this mystical journey.
Like I said, the reason I'm all about this psychedelia stuff is because there’s proven, long-term positive effects associated with psychedelics. Specifically, studies have shown long term increases in the openness of their test subject’s personalities as well as their performance on tests that measured creative problem solving ability, and these long term effects were statistically significant after just one psychedelic experience in some cases.
This enhanced creative problem solving is responsible for so much of modern science and culture. The Beatles and their contemporaries wouldn't have revolutionized music if it weren't for psychedelics. The double-helix model of DNA wouldn't exist if it weren't for psychedelics. Many of the leading philosophers of the 20th century credit their thinking to psychedelics. I could honestly make an entire essay out of the advancements mankind made thanks to the awesomeness that is tripping, and that would only be the instances where someone was willing to publicly credit their biggest achievement to a highly controversial illegal substances.
I promise there's a lot of advancements made in a parallel state of mind that got kept secret out of shame or just not wanting the public blowback that comes with making that fact public.
Now because I made a claim then attached the word “proven” and I’m going to make a few more of those claims as I move along, I need to clarify that these studies can’t say exactly why psychedelic experiences have the effects they do or what those effects imply in terms of how the brain functions. For now all science can tell us is that the benefits I just mentioned are real and that they show lots of potential uses that could revolutionize our society. I’ll link any relevant studies at the end of essay.
I promise I haven’t intentionally exaggerated or mischaracterized the findings of any study in this paper and all my claims are accurate to the best of my understanding. It should be noted that while the studies tend to be pretty conclusive, the amount of data we have on psychedelic drugs is limited by their legal status and we need to fix that problem.
So along with those long term benefits I just quoted, there’s are a few other really interesting things scientific research into psychedelics has found that I wanna rant about for a bit to backup my enthusiasm for you taking them...
Interesting things like how psychedelics have also been shown to carry potential as a treatment for depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and addiction to alcohol and tobacco...
Or how psychedelic drugs are the only thing neuroscientists have ever seen generate a “higher” level of consciousness than standard rested wakefulness. This study is actually one of the things that got me wanting to write this article, so let me elaborate a bit:
Neural signal diversity is a metric that neuroscientists have empirically linked to how “conscious” a person is. The concept is pretty straightforward, it’s a measure of how diverse the signals being sent around a person’s brain are. The lowest signal diversity has been observed in people who are comatose or under anaesthesia, different stages of sleep all have different levels of signal diversity correctly corresponding to their level of “consciousness”, and before the study I’m referencing the highest levels of signal diversity were seen in people who were rested and awake. It’s been proven that signal diversity is intrinsically tied to how “conscious” a person is at any given moment.
This study is the first and only time anybody has observed people in a state that had higher neural signal diversity than normal wakefulness and the more intense the trip was according to the test subject, the higher the signal diversity was, which means the highest level of consciousness when measured via neural signal diversity ever observed came from a dude/chick who was tripping balls.
That means every zonked out hippy who ever told you that tripping elevates your mind to a higher level wasn't just high off their ass. They were actually 100% correct and science has proven it empirically using a mathematically quantifiable measurement.
The exact implications of that elevated state of consciousness are unknown and there’s still a lot of research that needs to be done in order to understand exactly what this higher level of consciousness means. One thing that needs to be made clear is that saying "it's higher level of consciousness when quantified by neural signal diversity" doesn't necessarily mean "it's better than our normal state of mind".
There’s disruptions to normal linear thinking clearly associated with the altered state, and those disruptions are evidenced by measurable cognitive impairments tracked through decreased performance on standardized benchmarks for working memory and directed attention. The cognitive impairments are less drastic in experienced users, and are very dose dependent, but they undeniably exist. Those impairments in standard thinking come hand in hand with improvement in cognitive traits associated with creativity and unconventional divergent thinking.
For those reasons, the people who conducted the study made it very clear that this “higher consciousness” they’ve discovered doesn’t necessarily equate to “a superior, more universally useful form of consciousness”. There’s a clear pro vs con dynamic to be assessed, and generally speaking you’re probably gonna function better day-to-day in your normal state than you will with your mind warped from acid or shrooms.
Here’s the thing though: All of this stuff I just talked about being clinically proven a second ago is also stuff me and everyone else who’s ever tripped has been telling the world for a long long time.
I’m only bringing up all these “proven” claims and the studies to back them because I know people who haven’t experienced it firsthand are only gonna wanna hear what science has to say, and critics of this sort of thing don’t really care what some pothead from the internet says unless there’s reliable data to back the claims up.
It’s kinda unfair that society’s been telling the leading minds begging for permission to study psychedelics something along the lines of, “You aren’t allowed to research psychedelic drugs to produce data proving the claims because we don’t have any data that suggests psychedelics are anything other dangerous and destructive. Obviously, we can’t believe people unless there’s reliable scientific data. If you can produce some evidence, we’ll listen. But you gotta produce that evidence without doing any research. We already told you that you aren’t allowed to do any research.”
Despite that circular logic being a massive barrier, some people have managed to get some research done, and the findings of that research have been very promising.
I’m hoping that opening up with the stuff science has proven will get you to listen to all this anecdotal shit about the psychedelic experience I’m about to spit.
From the very first time I’ve tripped, I’ve always told people that doing it just permanently alters the way you see the world, and the change is overwhelmingly positive.
It’s hard for me to explain exactly, but small details and nuances in life that my mind was just unable to see before I tripped suddenly stood out and why they were important made more sense to me. Colors seemed more vibrant, sounds seemed clearer. I enjoyed music more, and understood life in a different way.
I want to say this new understanding was mystical in nature, and it definitely had mystical quality, but the word mystical implies something poorly defined, ethereal, and based on faith. The spiritual insight I gained from tripping over the years is something concrete that's had noticeable positive effects on my life.
There’s a very common experience people have when they use psychedelics where they suddenly understand some underlying “secret of the universe” but they’re unable to put it into words, then once the drug’s effects wear off they can’t seem to recall what that secret was.
I believe that permanent change in how people see the world is the residual effect of that shared epiphany people have when they trip balls for the first time, and that epiphany is what I think every person should experience just once.
If I had to make a guess, I’d wager this shared epiphany associated with tripping is most likely because of something we can only see when we’re in that state of “higher consciousness” discovered by the study I said inspired this essay.
I sincerely believe that everybody eating some shrooms or dropping a few hits of acid somewhere along the line when they’re 25-30~ish and experiencing this “higher consciousness” firsthand would have an enormously positive effect on society.
Our society can grow so much overnight if the average person adjusted their focus a bit. We could collectively achieve a more positive, productive outlook on life and stop being so distracted and divided by petty, inconsequential shit all the time.
There was legitimate civil unrest that required coordinated efforts by law enforcement over McDonald's not having enough of a promotional sauce last year.
Every election cycle, a significant portion of TV air time is spent analyzing hairstyles and outfits, and those things have actually have a more tangible effect on voter opinions than foreign policy, budgets, and tax plans.
We can't be this stupid forever. It's time to rethink how we look at things.
Of course critics will argue this “improved perspective” is a claim based on the anecdotal evidence I’ve gotten from my firsthand experience... If you’re still skeptical of the anecdotal evidence, let me refer you back to the proven long increases in personality traits related to openness and improved creative problem solving ability I mentioned earlier.
Being open to differing ideas is an important aspect of cognitive function. Tolerance for differing lifestyles is mandatory for the world we live in. Creative problem solving ability is... like…really useful for problems that make you get creative in order to come up with working solutions… and stuff… I think...maybe...
Hold on just a second though… Don’t go running off to the nearest stoner festival buying up all the doses in sight just yet. If I’m gonna advise everybody to trip at least once in their lives, there’s some rules I need to give rookies to make sure they get the benefits I’m promising as well as help them avoid having a really shitty time…
So first up, only trip if you’re with somebody you trust who’s responsible and familiar with psychedelics. Never ever trip alone or with someone who isn’t experienced with psychedelics.
"Always have a good tripsitter," is by far the most important rule, especially for your first time around but even for experienced users.
Having a knowledgeable tripsitter is especially important for the uninitiated, because noobies need someone to provide reliable sources for the drugs, figure out if those drugs are legitimate, and determine a good starting dose for the first timer based on how they’re feeling and the potency of the batch the tripsitter has gotten their hands on.
The next rule is to only trip when you’re in a stable, comfortable, relatively “happy” state of mind. I’m not saying you need to be super pumped about life, but tripping tends to amplify a lot of your underlying emotions. If you’re down in the dumps because you’re going through a divorce or stressed about an upcoming deadline at work,your mind is gonna fixate on those things constantly and those emotions are gonna be amplified to feel a thousand times stronger. Being in a more or less healthy state of mind for your first trip means you’re more likely to gain something from it.
Rule number three is only trip somewhere that you feel safe and comfortable. Similar to the last rule, if you’re in an unfamiliar place where you don’t feel safe, that feeling of insecurity is gonna be amplified by the drugs and lead to a freak out.
Last but not least, never take more than your tripsitter advises you to take, regardless of how much higher you think you could be, and always trust their judgement. Doing too much is a great way to overwhelm yourself and guarantee a bad trip, and not trusting the person who figured out your dose is a great way to convince yourself you’re dying when you’re really perfectly fine.
All of these rules are there to keep you from having a “bad trip”.
I’ll elaborate more on bad trips, but first I’m gonna dispel some misinformation surrounding them: There’s an urban legend about people having a trip so bad that it resulted in them never coming down, and I promise that’s nothing more than a myth. There is such a thing as repeated long term use of psychedelics eventually leading to a condition called hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, but it comes from repeated long-term use not an individual bad trip and the existence of that condition is a matter of debate.
There’s also such a thing as substance-induced psychosis, but this condition is attributed to a large number of drugs including amphetamines, cocaine, alcohol, cannabis, PCP, fucking antipsychotic medications apparently, and basically everything except for opiates.
Drug-induced psychosis is temporary; It isn’t the permatrip of nightmares, and it’s generally associated with extremely high doses and/or extended periods of use. I found a lot of websites which listed LSD as a potential cause of substance-induced psychosis, but I couldn’t find any that cited actual data. As of right now, even Wikipedia has citations for every illicit drug listed as a cause of substance-induced psychosis except for “hallucinogens(LSD and others)" which has no citation with reliable data generated by a controlled study.
I’m not saying LSD can’t cause long term psychosis, I’m just sayin’ that I tried really hard to find research data that suggested it can and I couldn’t find any. I gotta circle back to the warning from earlier that there are some mental disorders and psychiatric meds these drugs interact with. They won’t make a “normie” psychotic on a long term, persistent basis though.
Even if there’s no such thing as a trip so bad you never come back to reality, there is such a thing as a trip so bad you have a really shitty time and:
1) Hurt yourself by making a poor decision
2) Stop yourself from really gaining any of those long term positive effects I mentioned because you spent the entire time freaking the fuck out
Or a combination of both those things in varying degrees.
I wanna go a little more into how bad trips happen. Keep in mind, science has no fucking clue what causes these things to occur, and has failed to produce a reliable way of predicting them. You’re just gonna have to count on my experience having them, talking people out of them, and watching other people do those two things.
Most bad trips occur by breaking one of those rules I just gave you. Follow those four things, and your chances of having a bad trip drop immensely. Bad trips can still happen when people follow those rules though, and how they still occur is influenced in a big way by an individuals thinking.
Really, there’s two different kinds of “bad trip”.
The most common kind is defined by feeling extremely fearful, anxious and confused and experiencing repetitive disturbing thoughts and visions.
In my experience, this kind of bad trip happens the most to people who are naturally anxious and prone to panic. On a long enough timeline though, over enough trips, eventually everyone will have at least a part of the experience venture into this territory. The key thing to keep in mind is that in order for this kind of bad trip to happen, someone needs to think themselves into an emotional state that allows it.
A maladaptive, paranoid thought will get into someone's head and repeat on a loop. A very common one is people thinking they’re gonna die and trying to call 9-1-1, but there’s a large number of ways someone can inadvertently work themselves into a freakout.
Just so you have an example of how silly these sorts of things can be:
One time I’d been involved in a days long argument involving all the high profile “elite” players and top guilds on the World of Warcraft server my main characters were on. I was one of the big name elites I just mentioned and after some things that were said, I suspected a guild leader who I clashed with a lot and his wife were planning a real world retaliation for how often I publicly embarrassed them and their guild. My Dad eventually pointed out how that was nonsense and nobody actually gives a shit about their fantasy character's reputations all that much, reassured me I was safe from the people who lived thousands of miles away, and eventually talked me down.
That brings me back to the importance of a good trip sitter.
A good tripsitter should be able to talk someone out of these mental pitfalls. Generally the way they do it is listening closely to the concern and providing logical disputes and supportive reassurance that the fear in question is being blown out of proportion or straight up imagined from nothing.
At the very least if a tripsitter can’t snap someone out of a bad trip they can do things that’ll help ease the discomfort of it like create a comforting atmosphere, listen to the problem, offer support and encouragement and hopefully salvage some positive memories from the whole experience by doing so.
A good rule of thumb if you’re ever tripping and start to feel overwhelmed or taken by fear and anxiety is to relax and just go with the flow.
Don’t try to fight the drug’s effects or suppress them. You won’t be able to suppress them no matter how hard you try and you’ll just make yourself feel more anxious and out of control trying to do that.
Remind yourself that you’re under the influence of a drug and eventually the effects of the drug’ll pass and you’ll be fine.
In a “fearful trip” sort of moment, logically disputing the irrational fear and anxiety is difficult but it’s still worth trying. Generally when I’ve snapped out a bad trip like this, I was keeping myself trapped in the negative mindstate without knowing it. I’d shoot down a reason for my anxiety by logically disputing it, but instead of letting the associated anxiety subside I'd immediately come up with a new reason for it. Basically, the anxiety was just something I was feeling that had no identifiable cause, so my mind would produce any reason it could to explain the feeling.
Reassuring myself everything would be fine and logically disputing irrational fears, as well as others doing the same sort of thing, has eventually gotten me to see the fact that the fear was unjustified and I was manufacturing reasons for it instead of just letting it go and being happy in most cases.
Never stop reminding yourself that it’s going to be okay in the long run, and eventually you’re gonna lay down in your bed, go to sleep, and wake up the next morning feeling right as rain.
Something to keep in mind about this sort of experience is even though they’re referred to as a “bad trip” and they’re the least pleasant while someone’s under the effects of the drug, these trips often end up being the ones viewed as the most beneficial, productive learning experiences when re-evaluated later down the road.
Then there’s bad trips that are defined by encounters with law enforcement, injuries, and tangible long-term negative repercussions of that type.
There’s people who’ve stared at the sun and burned out their retinas cause it looked pretty, people who became unaware of their surroundings and wandered into traffic, people who’ve called 9-1-1 on themselves wanting medical help then gotten themselves arrested by fighting the cops that showed up to investigate, and just generally displayed the sort of poor judgement associated with an altered understanding of reality brought about by drug use.
There’s no hidden long term benefit that makes up for how bad this kind of trip can potentially suck like there is for the other type of “bad trips”. These sorts of experiences are yet another reason people stress the importance of a sober, knowledgeable, and responsible person watching you while you trip and keeping you safe from yourself.
Another thing I wanna clear up is that if you take the one time trip I’m suggesting everybody take and you love the adventure so much you wanna go on another one, I totally understand the sentiment, but remember psychedelics aren’t like pot.
They aren’t meant as a casual thing you do for fun at a party on a whim. They’re not something you do to unwind after a long day’s work every evening when you get home.
You shouldn’t really trip more than once or twice a month. Always try to put two weeks in between each trip to keep your mind fresh and plan ahead to account for all these rules I’ve mentioned, as well as have things to keep yourself entertained during your trip.
Finally, don’t let all these warnings and rules I’ve given you scare you. I didn't have anybody warning me or informing me of the smart way to approach psychedelic drug use when I first experimented with it, and I basically broke all those rules I gave you because I didn't understand how important they were for getting the most out of the experience. Ya, I could have enjoyed my first few trips more but even during the initial experience, I didn't see them as particularly negative experiences, they just weren't as positive as they could have been if I had known what I was doing.
Saturdays essay is gonna be a continuation of this that talks about the history of psychedelic drug use as well as some of my stories I've accidentally made over the years..
The vast majority of people who experiment with psychedelics have an exceedingly positive view of the experience, and even the “bad trips” end up getting looked at as beneficial things in the long run.
There are some risks, but they're largely mitigated with good mental preparation as well as solid planning. The rewards far outweigh those risks, and some of my fondest memories came from tripping on LSD or shrooms. Saturday’s post is gonna be some of those firsthand experiences as well as some of the history of psychedelic drug use in our society. (That underlined part is a link to the other essay! Neato!)
For now I just wanna say that I promise when people of the future look back on how our government suppresses research into these amazing, mind-expanding drugs, it’s gonna look to them the way Galileo being locked in a tower for saying the Earth revolves around the sun looks to us.
Don’t be one of the assholes that locked Galileo in a tower for being right.
Be the cool kid who opens their mind to the potential benefits of altered states of consciousness, and thus helps push humanity’s understanding of the universe and our place in it forward.
============ REFERENCES ============
Increased personality openness and improved creative problem solving:
Psychedelics having potential to treat depression, anxiety, OCD, and addiction:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4910400/(This is a review of various studies over the last few decades, not a study. I promise the studies are legit, as are the the reviewer's conclusions.)
Here's the study showing "higher consciousness" as measured by neural signal diversity that inspired this essay:
A compendium of studies on psychedelia that attempts to form a unifying theory to explain their usefulness:
I don't feel like digging up links to cite all the negative claims I made, but I promise I didn't make up things that could be used to refute my point and insert them into my argument. Just trust that I only made claims pertaining to risk when I found reliable data forcing me to do so.