Bad Trips Explained: What Are They and How To Avoid Them

How To Avoid Bad Trips?

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A bad trip is an informal term that refers to a multitude of overwhelming emotions. Thus, these emotions develop when you take excessive amounts of drugs or even alcohol.

Trips are pleasant to experience according to the users, so they love to call it a “high.” But these so called pleasant experiences turn into a nightmare when things go beyond the limit. Unfortunately, no one knows the limit!

It is as simple as it is, a bad trip is really bad and makes you go through experiences that you would want to forget. Bad trips are common with hallucinogens such as magic mushrooms, LSD (acid), DMT and other similar agents. However, you may also have such awful experiences if you overdo alcohol or weed.

This article will take you deeper into the scary world of a drug overdose, its symptoms and ways to avoid it.

Lost in Limbo: Bad Trips can Make You Lose Yourself!

Normally, we take drugs in a controlled manner. But it affects our mood, consciousness, perception, memory, and response to external stimuli. These drugs alter the level of mood-influencing chemicals in the brain, neurotransmitters. In addition to enhancing euphoric feelings, these drugs can also induce anxiety or fear (without a valid reason).

But when brain levels of the drugs become “too” high, the effects become bizarre, and you start experiencing out-of-the-earth things. The symptoms of excessive substance abuse can be very disturbing, and may also lead to psychosis.

In psychosis, you will lose touch with the surrounding and have visual or auditory hallucinations, which is, seeing or listening to things that do not exist.

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Other symptoms may include:

  • Disorientation: you can become unaware of time, place and even the person next to you.
  • Rapidly changing thought patterns: This is different from normal overthinking, and you have flooding thoughts that do not have relevance to the surrounding, present situation or reality. In fact, your thoughts go out of your control.
  • Inappropriate vocal manifestation: Your may slur your speech, or you start producing strange sounds.
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts: If you have repressed thoughts of suicide (even when you are not on drugs), overdosing on drugs can turn it into a full-blown conviction. Drugs exaggerate your emotions and thoughts thus making you more vulnerable to suicidal attempts.
  • In extreme cases, you may not be able to respond to the external stimuli like sound, light or touch and become totally unresponsive. This state is called catatonia or catatonic state.

The intensity and incidence of the symptoms seem to have a very high degree of individual differences. Thus, means a bad trip result due to a combination of factors, rather than the drug alone. Some contributing factors may be mood and mental state of the person before bingeing on drugs and during the development of the symptoms.

In essence, if you already have some mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression or psychosis. Unfortunately, you are more likely to develop the symptoms of a bad trip.

Common Drugs that can Give You Bad Trips

Psychedelics are notorious for their potential to cause a bad trip. These drugs are also called hallucinogens and include cannabis (weed), LSD (acid), psilocybin (magic mushroom) and prescription medications such as meclizine, diphenhydramine, scopolamine, atropine and others. These can make you lose your contact with the reality and experience bizarre, scary thoughts.

Ways to Prevent

The key to preventing a bad trip is very simple, but in almost all the cases, it doesn’t seem to work. You’re meant to take the drug in a controlled manner, but disinhibition caused by the drug can impair your decision-making ability. Thus making you unable to anticipate how much is “bad” for you.

Here are some tips that may help you avoid a bad trip and its serious effects:

  • Stop taking the drug once you feel any of the symptoms of overdose.
  • Try to remind yourself that the bizarre thoughts are actually due to the drug, and not part of the reality.
  • Leave the disturbing place or stop the music which provokes your thoughts.
  • Move to a safe place. But do not drive yourself, ask a friend to drive or take a cab.
  • Take help from a friend who is in control, if any.
  • If you are losing yourself, ask for emergency help right away.

What’s the Catharsis?

The treatment of a bad trip is essentially focused, in the beginning, to keep the person under control. Therefore, cutting the risk of harm, both to the self or others. For the purpose, they may give you a sedative that renders unconsciousness. Sedatives agents like diazepam and lorazepam also help to reduce fear and anxious feelings.

You have to remember that sedatives are available only on prescription and have addiction potential.

For hallucinations, you will need antipsychotic agents such as haloperidol. Studies have shown Haloperidol is effective in treating psychosis associated with drug-overuse.

The Bottom line

  • Bad trips can occur with weed, mushroom, and acid. But alcohol and cannabis are no exceptions.
  • Do not do drugs if you are already on a treatment for any mental illnesses.
  • Seek medical help if you THINK you are in the red zone.
  • If you see anyone going through the effects of drug overdose, take him/her out of place and seek immediate medical help. Also, inform the concerned family members about this.
  • Talk to a friend or a family member about your drug habit. If they know about your habit, they will take special precautions that may help prevent a bad trip.
  • There is no specific treatment to cure a bad trip. The treatments are supportive in nature and help to curb racing thoughts, minimize the risk of harm to the self or others, and calm you down.

To prevent another event of bad trips after you have been through one. You should talk to your physician or seek help from a reliable rehabilitation center. These centers have a team of specialists who work together to address your specific needs. As the effects of drug overdose are highly individual, specificity of the treatment is very essential. If you are fighting against addiction, take professional help and stay in touch with your family and friends. Your loved ones and qualified healthcare professionals can help you reclaim a drug-free life.

Looking for a rehabilitation center? Find one near you.
View Sources
  1. Go Ask Alice. Bad trips with LSD, ‘shrooms, and hash.
  2. Chung I. M. ‘Bad trips’. Australian Family Physician. 1983; 12(9):689-90.
  3. McMains V. Study explores the enduring positive, negative consequences of ingesting ‘magic mushrooms’. Johns Hopkins University. 2017.


Leave a comment

  • feanor
    Experience with being under the influence of a hallucinogenic drugs and supporting others in a state of a overly intense experience would tell you that ‘reminding oneself that the drug is affecting ones brain chemistry’ only helps exacerbate the worst of the trip. It is much more calming to be mindful if someone is in need of medical assistance but gently support them without introducing or forcing the horrifying concept of you are on drugs and you will be for hours still on the poor person. Also you have referenced weed and marijuana as two different substances.