Bad Trips Explained: What Are They and How To Avoid Them
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A bad trip is an informal term that refers to a multitude of overwhelming emotions. Thus, these emotions develop when one takes 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 one go through experiences that one would want to forget. Bad trips are common with hallucinogens such as magic mushrooms, LSD (acid), DMT, and other similar agents. However, patients may also have such awful experiences if they overdo alcohol or weed.
This article will take one deeper into the scary world of a drug overdose, its symptoms, and ways to avoid it.
Lost in Limbo: Bad Trips Can Make One Lose Oneself!
Normally, drugs are taken under doctor’s supervision and for the medical use. Anyway, 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).
In psychosis, one will lose touch with the surrounding and have visual or auditory hallucinations, which is, seeing or listening to things that do not exist.
Other symptoms may include:
- Disorientation: a person can become unaware of time, place, and even the person nearby.
- Rapidly changing thought patterns: This is different from normal overthinking, and one has flooding thoughts that do not have relevance to the surrounding, present situation, or reality. In fact, the thoughts go out of control.
- Inappropriate vocal manifestation: One may slur a speech, or start producing strange sounds.
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts: If one has repressed thoughts of suicide (being not on drugs), overdosing on drugs can turn it into a full-blown conviction. Drugs exaggerate emotions and thoughts, thus making one more vulnerable to suicidal attempts.
- In extreme cases, a person may not be able to respond to the external stimuli like sound, light, or touch and become 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, it 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 one already has some mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, or psychosis. Unfortunately, one is more likely to develop the symptoms of a bad trip.
Common Drugs That Can Give One Bad Trip
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 people lose their contact with 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. One is meant to take the drug in a controlled manner, but disinhibition caused by the drug can impair decision-making ability. Thus, making one unable to anticipate how much is “bad” .
Here are some tips that may help to avoid a bad trip and its serious effects:
- Stop taking the drug once feeling any of the symptoms of overdose.
- Try to remind oneself 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 the thoughts.
- Move to a safe place. But do not drive oneself, ask a friend to drive or take a cab.
- Take help from a friend who is in control, if any.
- If a person is losing oneself, 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 one a sedative that renders unconsciousness. Sedatives agents like diazepam and lorazepam also help to reduce fear and anxious feelings.
For hallucinations, one 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 is no exception.
- Do not do drugs if one is already on treatment for any mental illnesses.
- Seek medical help if one think a person is in the red zone.
- If people see anyone going through the effects of a 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 the drug habit. If they know about the 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 down.
To prevent another event of bad trips after having been through one, a person should talk to the physician or seek help from a reliable rehabilitation center. These centers have a team of specialists who work together to address their specific needs. As the effects of drug overdose are highly individual, the specificity of the treatment is essential. If one is fighting against addiction, take professional help, and stay in touch with the family and friends. The loved ones and qualified healthcare professionals can help reclaim a drug-free life.
- Go Ask Alice. Bad trips with LSD, ‘shrooms, and hash. https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/bad-trips-lsd-shrooms-and-hash-0.
- Chung I. M. ‘Bad trips’. Australian Family Physician. 1983; 12(9):689-90. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6651634.
- McMains V. Study explores the enduring positive, negative consequences of ingesting ‘magic mushrooms’. Johns Hopkins University. 2017. https://hub.jhu.edu/2017/01/04/bad-trips-mushrooms/.
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