How To Survive Your First Psychedelic Experience

Psychedelics can be one of the most profoundly meaningful, exciting, and revealing experiences someone can have. However, diving into these powerful substances without proper respect and preparation can lead to highly challenging trips.

If you’re considering experimenting with psychedelics for the first time, having strategies to help you safely and comfortably navigate the multi-dimensional planes they reveal is essential. The psychedelic realm operates by different rules than ordinary waking consciousness. As a beginner, you want tools in your back pocket to ensure your first journeys are as positive and insightful as possible.

That’s why we’ve created this mini-guide covering critical tips for optimising your introductory experiences with psychedelics. Whether you’re working with LSD, psilocybin, DMT, or other mind-expanding substances, setting yourself up for success will allow you to surrender to the experience confidently.

In the following sections, we’ll provide recommendations on critical topics like dosage, set and setting, having an experienced guide, letting go of control, integrating afterwards, and common rookie mistakes to avoid. While there are always risks, you can traverse these visionary realms smoothly with proper planning and support.

Our goal is for this advice to start you on the psychedelic path safely so you can harness their incredible potential for healing, self-discovery, and mystical states of unity. Let’s explore how to get the most out of these sacred technologies!

As a beginner, you want tools in your back pocket.

Research Your Substance Thoroughly

The first step for psychedelic prep is thoroughly researching the substance you plan to take – its effects, duration, dosages, risks, and legal status where you live. Psychedelics affect everyone differently, so understand the general impacts before proceeding.

Read up on typical dosages, starting with a low “threshold” amount for first journeys to gauge your reaction. It’s easy to take more next time, but impossible to take less once ingested. Erring on the side of caution is wise.

Understand the timeline – when effects start, peak intensity, and total duration. Psychedelics like LSD provide 8-12 hour experiences, while DMT offers more condensed (but often more intense) 15-minute trips.

Learn potential side effects like nausea, anxiety, or headaches on the onset. These are common initially but typically pass. Be ready to relax through them.

Given the legal landscape, procuring substances from trusted sources is safest. Using test kits to verify purity is critical – consuming unknown compounds is very risky.

While no psychedelic use is 100% risk-free, preparation minimizes potential harm. Educating yourself dispels myths, empowers intelligent choices, and sets you up to get the most out of the experience.

Choose The Right Set and Setting

Also, see our longer blog post about the 7 Key Considerations for the Setting of a Psychedelic Trip

Your mindset and environment dramatically impact the course of a psychedelic trip, for better or worse. That’s why making a suitable “set” and “setting” is critical.

Your set refers to your emotional state and intentions before and during the experience. If you’re in a stable place mentally and set clear goals like seeking healing or insight, your journeys will likely be fulfilling. Set is all about your inner landscape.

Setting means the physical location where you trip and the ambience you create. A comfortable, familiar place with soft lighting, nature elements and trusted friends typically nurtures positive trips. Hard settings like crowded concerts on psychedelics are a no-go for beginners.

An ideal set and setting is like flipping the light switch in your mind from “work mode” to “chill zone.” Stress and anxiety short-circuit psychedelic benefits. Design your set and setting to evoke total calm.

Curate your set and setting wisely, and it’s smooth sailing through psychedelic seas. But neglect either, and it’s easy to veer into rough waters. Do your preflight safety checks on both.

Have a Trusted Guide or Sitter

Having an experienced guide or sitter during your first psychedelic sessions is highly recommended. Their sober presence provides an invaluable anchor to safety and comfort.

The role of the guide is to hold space, not control or direct the experience. Beforehand, communicate your needs and intentions so they can assist skillfully if challenges arise.

Your guide should be someone you trust deeply, who cares about your welfare. Other top qualities to look for include:

  • Familiarity with psychedelic experiences – it’s ideal if they’ve tripped before
  • Emotionally mature and able to stay calm in difficult situations
  • Good listener who won’t judge your process
  • Responsible and willing to monitor safety
  • Can comfort you while allowing your journey to unfold organically
  • Sober from all drugs and alcohol during your session
  • Bonus if they have training in psychedelic therapy or counselling

With an experienced guide by your side, you can relax fully into the experience knowing support is there if needed. Their grounded energy keeps you tethered during an intense trip.

Your guide should be someone you trust deeply.

Let Go and Allow The Experience to Unfold

An essential skill to develop for psychedelic journeys is surrendering control and allowing the experience to unfold organically. This takes practice, especially for first-timers.

Psychedelics dissolve our ego structures and sense of self. This can feel blissful but also anxiety-provoking. The urge to cling to familiar mental constructs is natural. However, resisting the experience creates distress.

Instead, cultivate openness and curiosity about whatever arises. Let go of expectations. Allow your conscious mind to relax and your inner wisdom to guide you. Submitting to the journey reduces struggle and amplifies benefits.

Focus on your breathing if you feel overwhelmed as the effects intensify. Inhale relaxation, exhale tension. Trust you are safe. Leaning into support from your guide can help you surrender fears.

If challenging emotions or thought loops emerge, don’t fight them. Observe gently without judgement and let the feelings move through you. Tension comes from resisting what is.

Use techniques like journaling, talking to your guide, drawing, or going outside for a fresh perspective. But allow things to shift organically rather than forcing change.

Psychedelics act as amplifiers – they heighten pre-existing emotions and tendencies. By relaxing into all that arises with equanimity, you alchemize the experience into one of joy and insight.

Let go, breathe deep, and trust the journey. By surrendering control, you allow that wisdom to flow freely.

An essential skill is surrendering control and allowing the experience to unfold organically.

Hydrate, Rest, and Integrate Afterwards

The integration period after a psychedelic trip is as important as the preparation beforehand. Give yourself adequate time and space for self-care following these intense journeys.

Hydration is key – drink plenty of water, (herbal) tea, or other fluids. Psychedelics can deplete you. Eat fresh, energizing fruits and veggies as well.

Get ample rest and sleep following your trip before diving back into normal routines. You may feel emotionally and physically drained. Honour your need for extra downtime.

Reflect on your experiences through journaling, art, or nature walks. How can you incorporate your insights into daily life? What changes would serve your growth?

Discuss the journey with your guide for additional perspective. Sometimes it takes outside input to make sense of psychedelic realizations. Mutual sharing reinforces lessons.

Be selective in sharing details more widely. Mainstream society often still misjudges psychedelic usage. Find open-minded communities or therapists to process with.

If you face particularly challenging moments, seek professional integration support. Psychedelic-assisted integration therapy/coaching is becoming ever more common.

Rushing post-trip can short-circuit digestion of the experience. Integrate with patience and self-compassion. These journeys can catalyse profound awakenings when honoured.

Common Rookie Mistakes To Avoid

Keep it simple. Let go.

Even with good preparation, psychedelic sessions can go awry, especially for beginners. Being aware of common pitfalls helps avoid them.

Overdoing the Dose

Taking an overly high dose your first time rarely ends well. Getting the dosage right is an art, even among experienced users. Start with threshold or microdose amounts to get your bearings before gradually increasing the quantity.

Neglecting Set and Setting

Tripping in chaotic, uncontrolled environments leaves you vulnerable to negative psychological experiences. Ensure your mindset is clear and the physical space is comfortable before ingesting. Having a guide on standby is wise.

Assuming Psychedelics Are a Magic Fix

While powerful tools, psychedelics alone won’t solve all life’s problems overnight. They offer insight into new perspectives, but integrating those lessons through self-work afterwards is key. Don’t expect a miracle cure.

Mixing Substances

Combining (classical) psychedelics with other drugs like marijuana, alcohol, or MDMA adds more unpredictability to an already intense altered state. For beginners, it’s safest to avoid poly-substance use, even cannabis.

Resisting the Experience

Fighting against psychedelic effects or struggling to control the experience often causes distress. Practising surrender and letting go allows the journey to unfold for maximum benefit. Trust in the process.

Rushing Back to Normal Life

Inadequate rest, nutrition and integration time after an intense trip can short-circuit digestion of the experience. Ease gently back into routines with self-care. Reflection and community support aid integration.

While challenging at times, psychedelics can catalyze immense growth when approached with care. Avoid rookie behaviour patterns for smoother sailing. With proper preparation and intention, your first psychedelic voyages will be ones of wonder, joy and self-discovery.

Bon voyage!


Lotte and Floris are the two guides for FLO Coaching. We combine our years of coaching & therapy to help people experience a (first) guided psychedelic trip.

We uniquely focus on preparation and integration to provide long-term positive changes in mind and behaviour.

Assistance is provided by Max and Saar, though our dogs haven't yet learned to write for the blog 🐾