A study recently asked users of psychedelic substances to share their experiences with the drugs and, in particular, their bad trips. The study, which was reported in the “International Journal of Drug Policy,” found that many users of psychedelic substances used storytelling to redefine bad trips and make them positive experiences.
Hallucinogens, or psychedelics, are psychoactive substances that activate altered states of consciousness, influencing an individual’s cognition, perception and mood. Hallucinogens are considered to be low in toxicity and aren’t addictive, but they can sometimes cause challenging trips, which are basically negative reactions that can include frightening hallucinations, panic attacks, paranoia and anxiety.
Despite having these unpleasant experiences, psychedelic users embraced the positives in bad trips, observed the researchers. Researchers included Liridona Gashi, Willy Pedersen and Sveinung Sandberg, who suggest that storytelling may be useful in helping users of psychedelics find meaning in challenging trips.
For their study, the researchers recruited 50 psychedelic users who were in their early 20s and late 30s; the teams then conducted interviews with those users. The team found that psilocybin and LSD were the most commonly used drugs, noting that most of the participants had used psychedelics less than 50 times.
During the interviews, each participant was asked questions about their experiences with bad trips, including how they felt a day after the trip, if the experience had changed them and how scared they were. In their study, the researchers noted that apart from two participants, the remaining number had experienced bad trips.
Similar to prior findings, most stories included troubling visions, panic attacks, confusion and paranoia. The researchers added that the majority of the participants also described intense feelings of losing their sense of self or going insane.
Despite these negative experiences, most participants recalled their trips with gratitude, which proposes that the experiences had unearthed feelings that had been repressed and provided them with deep insights into various matters. In addition, some participants suggested that bad trips mainly arise due to the lack of competence of the drug user.
The researchers also stated that the stories on bad trips were extremely detailed and rich, noting that the psychedelic users were adept at storytelling and had extensive vocabularies. The researchers suggest that these narratives may help explain why bad trips can be interpreted as both positive and negative experiences at the same time, adding that storytelling may play the role of a coping mechanism, assisting the individuals to draw meaning from the negative experiences and process their emotions.
The possibility of a bad trip may be the reason why a variety of companies, including Cybin Inc. (NEO: CYBN) (OTCQB: CLXPF), see psychedelics as medicinal formulations that should only be used under the watchful eye of trained medical personnel.
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