How to Cope With a Bad Acid Trip

Anyone who has had a bad trip, or has felt unable to cope with the effects of acid (LSD), will wonder how to stop it. A bad trip can happen to anyone under the influence.

Even if your mood was good when you took the drug, you can easily find yourself feeling overwhelmed, frightened, or upset when you have taken hallucinogens such as acid or magic mushrooms.

Although it is not possible to actually stop an acid trip, these tips will help you cope with the feelings and sensations that create a bad acid trip.

staying safe on a bad acid trip
Cindy Chung, Verywell

Remember It Isn't Real

Hallucinogenic drugs can make you see, feel, and even hear things that are distorted or have no basis in reality. They can cause you to have thoughts which seem profound and real, but are extreme, out of proportion, or downright delusional.

If nothing else, hold on to remembering that everything you are perceiving is influenced by the drug you have taken, and is probably not real.

Some of the hallucinations you see, hear, or feel on drugs can seem very real, but they probably aren't. Some of the thoughts you have seem profound and true but are not in perspective right now.

Think about it this way—if it is real, it will still be there tomorrow. If it is true, you will still believe it tomorrow.

So don't act on anything that seems different or out of the ordinary because, the chances are, it won't even be there or seem that important after you come down. And if it is, you will be in a much better state to deal with it then.

Time is often distorted while you are tripping, so it is good to remember that. Depending on what you are taking, what you are experiencing will last as little as a few minutes to a few hours. Tomorrow, the effects will have mostly worn off and you never need to take hallucinogens again.

Stay Safe

Try to stay in places where the risks of you hurting yourself are low. Stay in familiar territory, away from heights, traffic, and other hazards.

You may have unusual impulses and want to try doing something that has seemed risky in the past, but doesn't seem risky now. Don't follow such impulses.

If you choose to go outside, make sure someone goes with you, ideally someone you can trust who has not taken any drugs. Stick to quiet places without too many people around, but make sure help is nearby if you need it.

People who have been drinking alcohol are not the best companions for you right now as their judgment is also impaired and they might have difficulty understanding your complicated feelings. So, it would be best to avoid drinking establishments such as bars and pubs.

Connect With Someone

Although talking might be difficult and you could find it hard to put what you are feeling into words, try to let someone understanding know you are having a bad trip.

Choose someone who is not going to over-react to your drug use and, ideally, someone who is not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Even if you aren't able to talk, just having someone sit with you can be very calming.

Going off on your own is not a good idea when you are having a bad trip, but large groups of people can be overwhelming, too. If you are at an event such as a concert, festival, nightclub, or rave, try and find a quieter area with another person or small group. Look for a chill-out room, a DanceSafe booth, or other supportive group.

If connecting with someone by phone is your best option, contacting a drug helpline could help, but they may not give you the support you need. They are geared towards dealing with drug addiction rather than intoxication.

A better choice would be to call DanceSafe at 888-MDMA-411. They are a harm reduction organization and are very skilled at supporting people who are having negative drug experiences.

If you are feeling really out of control, you can always call 911 or go to the emergency room of your local hospital.

Emergency rooms are not great places to be spending time when you are having a bad trip. They are full of sick and injured people who are upset and frustrated, so calling 911 might be a better choice. Be sure to tell the paramedic what you have taken.

Take Care of Your Physical Needs

If you haven't eaten for hours, and particularly if you have been overactive, your low blood sugar may be lowering your mood. Make sure you have had enough fluids—although don't over-do it—and try to eat something.

The process of eating can be difficult while under the influence of hallucinogens, so if you can't handle chewing, choose something soft and easy to eat and digest, such as pudding or ice cream.

It is unlikely that you will be able to get restful sleep, particularly if you are within the first few hours of the trip. But sitting or lying down and resting can help. Listening to soothing music is often very calming.

Don't Attempt to Self Medicate

There are many myths involving self-medication when you are having a bad trip. But generally, taking more drugs will make you feel worse, not better.

Adding any psychoactive substance, including alcohol, to a bad trip will tend to increase your feelings of anxiety and being out of control (followed by the comedown while you are still feeling wide awake under the influence of the hallucinogen).

When to Seek Immediate Treatment

  • You're physically ill
  • You think the drug may have been contaminated
  • You feel out of control and need help with your mental state

If you need to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room, try to do it with an understanding companion who is not intoxicated. And let the professionals decide what the best treatment is for your current state.

Be sure to tell the paramedic what you think you have taken and bring a sample if possible. Do not handle drugs such as LSD with your bare hands as they can be absorbed through the skin and intensify the experience.

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Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Johnson M, Richards W, Griffiths R. Human hallucinogen research: guidelines for safety. J Psychopharmacol (Oxford). 2008;22(6):603-620. doi:10.1177/0269881108093587

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Additional Reading
  • Araújo A, Carvalho F, Bastos M, Guedes de Pinho P, Carvalho M. The hallucinogenic world of tryptamines: An updated review. Archives of Toxicology. 2015;89(8):1151-1173. doi:10.1007/s00204-015-1513-x

  • Fadiman J. The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys. Rochester, Vermont: Park Street Press. 2011.

  • Hayes C, editor. Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures. New York: Penguin; 2000.