Help me be a good sober sitter!
December 24, 2012 8:19 AM   Subscribe

My SO is planning on taking LSD during the extended break between Christmas and New Year's. I will be his sober sitter. How do I do that?

Neither of us have any experience with psychedelics, but this is something he's wanted to experiment with for a long time. Our basic itinerary now is to drive around and look at big Christmas light displays, walk around a little bit outside (weather permitting), and then come back home, and let him do whatever he wants to do.

So - as his sitter - what should I be doing to make him feel best? Just listening/nodding? Suggesting music or art to experience? What will he look like when high? Do I have to be around him the whole time, or is it better to leave him by himself (in a safe area)?

He wants me to drive him to a big public place; I am loathe to do that, in case things get out of hand. I'm also a little concerned for our pets, and will be monitoring the interactions between he and them very, very closely. Are these rational concerns, or am I being paranoid?

Most importantly, from reading trip reports, it sounds like things have the potential to get scary. What should I do, then? Will he be able to communicate with me what is going on?

I've read plenty of trip reports, but not much from a sober POV, so any information will be helpful.
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (52 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I'm convinced pets know and are confused when their owners are under the influence, so maybe keep them in a separate part of the house if possible.

Keep some crayons/paper/art supplies on hand. People who are tripping tend to like a lot of th things little kids like.

To that point, buy a weird little toy that lights up or makes noise or both. Present it to your SO during the trip.
posted by justjess at 8:32 AM on December 24, 2012

It'll be difficult to relate to his feelings and thoughts, so just listening/nodding is generally the best idea. Have him make a playlist before. Music's the best.
posted by stravinsky at 8:34 AM on December 24, 2012

Set & setting!

The two absolute most important things when experiencing psychedelics. He seems to have a good set, but one never knows where the mind will wander while tripping. If he gets emotional he may not be able to explain why, so your job as sitter in that sort of situation is to just be supportive, encouraging, and open to his expressions.

It sounds like he wants to try different settings. That may change once the trip comes on, so be prepared to change venues quickly. IE go home fast, or even just go sit in the car. Choosing a good setting for the trip is important, I think moreso for a first trip, so make sure you're ready with a comfortable, familiar, safe setting in case crowds don't work out.

But basically you're there to be his friend through this experience, and to do the mind-blowing things he'll be incapable of while high. Like turning doorknobs or ordering at the drive-thru or flipping the record. You will likely say "It's OK" a lot. Have fun, and enjoy seeing a side of your SO you may not be familiar with. =)
posted by carsonb at 8:38 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

The pets are going to be fine. Be very cautious about taking him to places where there are lots of people. That's something that for more experienced trippers. Simple is better. Just looking at the night sky, or being in a dark room listening to music is plenty stimulation enough for most people on their first trip.

Keep talking to him but don't expect anything he says to make much sense. Be soothing and relaxing. Don't stress out about anything, or you'll stress him out.

The beginning part of the trip can be surprisingly easy to handle and lots of fun, so if you're going to go out and do something where people are going to be, do that in the first hour or two of the trip -- 3 or 4 hours in is when people can start to get panic-y, so try and plan to be in a comfortable place -- someplace familiar and comfortable.

Watch this video of a housewife tripping in the 1950s. Expect a lot of that. He'll try to explain things to you, and you won't begin to understand him. Just go with it and don't argue with him about what he's seeing and experiencing, except for the unlikely even that he wants to do something stupid or dangerous.
posted by empath at 8:40 AM on December 24, 2012 [8 favorites]

And I really can't emphasize enough how important music is -- create a playlist with music with minimal lyrics, and extended jamming (m83, pink floyd, phish, jazz, trance) for best results, but really almost anything is good. I had my mind completely blown by Coldplay's first album of all things.
posted by empath at 8:44 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Be prepared for the most boring and stupid stretch of time in your life.

I went to a Grateful Dead show with my then boyfriend. He took a double dose that night (the acid I had yesterday was weak.) I ended up driving him back and forth across the Dumbarton Bridge for a couple of hours. He was fine during the show, and frankly, I was so done with the whole mess that I met a new guy that night.

It really depends on the acid. He could have a mellow trip, or the can trip balls, you just have no way of knowing.

Be prepared for just about anything, and as I said, you'll be bored to death with it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:44 AM on December 24, 2012 [10 favorites]

I would not go to a big public place, in case things get out of hand. Of course that’s what I did, but every time I just kept wishing I could go home.

It’s going to be either really boring and/or alternately really annoying for you. You could have some shiny movies to keep him distracted and maybe a good book for yourself.

I always found the experience interesting for an hour or so, then really annoying for many, many hours. I got really agitated and tired of it but unable to sleep until the next day.
posted by bongo_x at 8:46 AM on December 24, 2012

As a person who use to be involved with shrooms quite a bit, and has done acid a few times if neither of you have ever tripped - I would recommend cancelling your plans. Seriously, find some people that have tripped before and trip with them. But I would recommend this article if your both ok with the risk associated with tripping by yourself as a first time experience. Also play around on the site quite a bit, there is some really good information.

Overall, I can't recommend it enough - you're first trip should never, ever be alone or with someone that isn't readily available who knows what tripping actually is and how to help if things go south. Acid and shrooms are awesome if things go right, but can be horrible if things go south.

That being said, I personally always enjoyed easy listening music such as Amos Lee, Jack Johnson, etc and avoided things like Pink Floyd. Disco lights were also very cool, along with lava lamps. I never went out to public (concert excluded) so I can't comment on that. You're pets will be fine and actually sounds pretty cool to have one during the trip. Overall, for you - if everything goes right, it will be boring and make no sense but you'll be an awesome SO.
posted by lpcxa0 at 8:47 AM on December 24, 2012 [11 favorites]

Yeah if it's just a 1:1 sober:tripper ratio, things may be a little dull for you. I just remembered the two basic rules that were good to be mindful of. Cars are real; money is real.

So your main job is to be supportive and facilitate things that your SO may not be able to do on his own--drive, acquire and pay for food, stay out of traffic/danger, assess risks--and handle anything negative that might come up. Negative in this context is much more likely to be just bad/negative thoughts and not an all-out freakout but in a worst case scenario if there is trouble, be absolutely honest with medical folks because that way they can be the most helpful. In a bad thoughts situation, just being calm and talking is usually helpful, maybe remove them from a situation that isn't to their liking.

The one thing that was a little difficult for me when I was a sitter for folks was remembering that jokes/sarcasm may not be interpreted the same way as usual, so being a little bit more plainly spoken and at some points being a little authoritative "Okay we're going to get into the car now" than I might otherwise be in the dynamic we had.

Making sure the person has at lease something to eat/drink is a good idea because they might not be hungry/thirsty. Some food is really fun/interesting on acid. Most importantly, just be open to whatever. The other thing that is worth knowing is that once the acid wears off, they will probably sleep for a long time and then the next day often comes with some sort of a "Grrrrr things aren't nice and shiny anymore" hangover that can be unpleasant. So don't plan anything major for the next day and be understanding if they're crabby and/or maybe not appreciative of your help until later.

Also, there's a lot to read online if that's your thing. The Erowid people have an entire section on sitters (people who just hang out) and guides (people who help facilitate certain outcomes) that might be worth poking around in. This line is the one that stood out for me.

"A willingness to serve is the most important quality for any sitter. You have to be prepared to devote yourself unreservedly to those in your care for as long as it takes, with your own comfort coming a long second. You should feel generous towards them and think of it as giving them a treat rather than doing a duty.

Boredom is most likely to be your biggest problem, but you must be prepared for emergencies and know how to respond. You have be willing to clean up vomit or worse, to tolerate the same music repeated endlessly, and maintain your caring attention even when 'nothing is happening'."
posted by jessamyn at 8:58 AM on December 24, 2012 [16 favorites]

I think lpcxa0's advice is a bit dire, but definitely in the right direction. I wouldn't cancel your plans, but I would strongly advise having a friend "on call" who has experience dealing with tripping people. If your friend can swing by (or you make a visit), even briefly, would be great.

Be prepared to bag on any plans you make, though. It's entirely possible you won't even make it out of the house.

Ruthless Bunny: "Be prepared for the most boring and stupid stretch of time in your life."

Yes. Also, be prepared for a long spell at the end where the psychedelics have worn off but the residual speed in the dose is still active, so your SO will be both exhausted and wired.

Avoid mirrors.
posted by mkultra at 8:59 AM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

Ideally, he should trip with someone else who is experienced and also tripping. It's just not very much fun to be staring into the mouth of eternity with Nurse Nancy hovering at your shoulder. He's going to feel like you're observing him, then he's going to observe that observation, then he's going to get tangled up in a feedback loop that risks poisoning the whole experience.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:07 AM on December 24, 2012 [13 favorites]

I don't think you need to cancel your plans. I've been around tripping people before and even when they're paranoid or freaking out, they're not that disruptive or problematic. It is definitely worth trying to make things as mellow and relaxed as possible because the worst would be if he gets into a bad trip and then you can't get him out of it, he'd probably be afraid to do anything and just want to hide in a corner babbling about how scary stuff you don't understand is.

I strongly recommend AGAINST going to someplace with a lot of people. That has way more potential for badness than is necessary. And yes, seconding what mkultra says that the trip could last longer than he sorts of 'expects' it to and there could be a period of even up to an hour or two at the end where he's tired and sick of tripping and so are you but hey, that waterfall on the wall just keeps on moving. Have something quiet/non-demanding and distracting planned.

Don't leave him alone. The pets should be fine.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:10 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

"A willingness to serve is the most important quality for any sitter. You have to be prepared to devote yourself unreservedly to those in your care for as long as it takes, with your own comfort coming a long second. You should feel generous towards them and think of it as giving them a treat rather than doing a duty."

Yes. This.

Also: it sounds a little like you're coming at this from a sort of Crisis Management point of view, like "Oh god I need to handle everything exactly right or something terrible will happen." But as long as you've got enough sense to babysit a four-year-old, and you stay someplace private and calm, you'll be fine. Nothing terrible will happen. The worst case scenario is "Your boyfriend gets scared and stressed out, and you get vicariously scared and stressed out, and nobody has any fun, and maybe you both end up sort of resentful and irritated about it afterwards."

That could happen. But it won't be the end of the world if it does. And if you can approach it, not with fear or panic or worry, but rather with an attitude like "Oh wow, Boyfriend is having an Awfully Big adventure here; I wonder how I can help keep him company," then that will help a lot.

(Incidentally, this is another reason why it's better to have a sitter who's experienced with this stuff. It's not that we think you're gonna screw up and let Something Terrible happen to him. It's that we think you might find the whole thing sort of weird and frightening yourself, and a sitter who's tripped before will be better equipped to say "No, it's okay, this happens sometimes and it's not a disaster.")
posted by and so but then, we at 9:12 AM on December 24, 2012 [7 favorites]

Nthing the advice to avoid being around heaps of people on a first trip. Very bad idea.

Go somewhere beautiful with trees and sky and stars.
posted by flabdablet at 9:37 AM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Acid trips last a long, long time. Start early in the day--like, noon. That way it will have worn off by midnight or so, rather than (exhaustingly) just after dawn.
posted by tapir-whorf at 9:44 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

My two mantras for tripping, back in the day:

1. There's nothing neat in the street!
(Don't let him wander into the street to pick up shiny object, even if it's the most beautiful thing ever.)

2. You took acid, and you were having a great time, but now you're not having a great time, so take some antacid!
(Because sometimes it's just an upset stomach messing with you, but you don't realize it. Common.)
posted by heyho at 10:00 AM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

He might find that loud noises (big public spaces) will be to much to handle. If he's never done this before, I would seriously, advise against going in public places. Seeing lights from the car would be ok, but not walking around.

I tripped weekly for 3 years and now about once a year for the last 7. If you are new to this expirence, it will be a lot to take in.
posted by Sweetmag at 10:03 AM on December 24, 2012

When I've had a bad trip, I have found it very comforting to remind myself/have someone remind me that I'm a) on a drug b) this expierence will in fact end.

It might be great, it might be bad. But in the end, it always ends.
posted by OsoMeaty at 10:10 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh -- one more thing -- on making out and/or having sex on acid. It can be amazing, but also deeply, deeply, deeply weird and uncomfortable. I would avoid it unless you're very comfortable with your relationship and ready for him to behave very, very strangely.
posted by empath at 10:10 AM on December 24, 2012

If the weather is favorable and you're near a large park, a lake, an ocean, go there, especially if there aren't many people.
posted by mareli at 10:15 AM on December 24, 2012

" the end where the psychedelics have worn off but the residual speed in the dose is still active..."

Please don't screw up someone's trip with this nonsense. There's no speed in LSD unless someone deliberately combines speed with it, which is very unlikely -- especially if you're swallowing a tab. That's a myth from the past, like the "strychnine" BS.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:19 AM on December 24, 2012 [12 favorites]

Being in a moving car can be overwhelming when tripping, so I'd minimize driving around. Or he might enjoy it - be flexible.
posted by domnit at 10:31 AM on December 24, 2012

Some people like lots of nature and wide open spaces while tripping. Other people like more confined, controlled spaces. I recommend having plans to accommodate either preference because the first-time tripper is unlikely to know what s/he will prefer. But I would also advise you to select an outdoor location without lots of people around, because that can become stressful (for the sitter if not for the tripper). I'd also avoid outdoor locations with things like high cliffs, bears, poison ivy etc. for a first time. I've never believed I could fly, but it's possible for tripping people to fail to exercise appropriate caution around dangerous things. It will also give you fewer things to worry about.

I cannot spend more than a few minutes in a closed room when I'm tripping, even if there are lots of shiny things to play with. It feels like a bad kind of psychic feedback to me. I have to have a seemingly boundless environment to explore. I know other people who are freaked out by being outside while tripping, and who just want to listen to music, stare at objects and feel comfortable. Some people are fine with either type of environment. So I'd have options ready for those cases.

I'd also try to minimize the need to drive anywhere. Ordinary processes that we take for granted can seem completely alien and unpleasant. The concept of eating, for example, seems completely strange to me while tripping and I prefer not to do it. Being in a car could be weird and unpleasant for someone tripping.

Have some food and water ready, especially as the tripper is coming down. As I said, in my case eating during a trip is bizarre, but afterward I'm famished. It's easy to be very active on a trip and burn a lot of calories, especially if you're playing around at a beach or a park. Also, regardless of whatever mythology surrounds the reason, coming down can be a bit twitchy and edgy, and often leads to a tense jaw. I really like chewy foods when I'm coming down, like french rolls and salami. Having something to actually work on relieves my jaw tension. This is a good time to have options too, since it's hard to predict the tripper's preferences. Some people like a little toke to help transition out, but I would not recommend this until the person is clearly past the tripping balls stage and is more or less back in reality.

For you, to help alleviate any boredom you might encounter, I suggest taking a notebook and recording some of the more unusual things your SO says or does. While a lot of what you experience while tripping comes back to reality with you, you experience and think so many things that it might be interesting for your SO to have a record of the event to spur recollection of specific things. It's difficult to verbalize the experience while having it, and also afterward, but the tripper might be able to explain what they were thinking at the time more easily once the trip is over and they're more lucid again. I would not use a video or audio recording device for this however. That might get weird for the tripper, and I can tell you after having listened to a couple hours of audio of a friend tripping, it's pretty boring and useless.

Finally, there are three kinds of bad trips: those caused by bad chemicals, those caused by negative external events and those caused by the tripper's mind going down a negative rabbit hole. Diversion is the key in the latter case. If your SO starts obsessing on something negative, distract distract distract! Pointing out beauty is a good technique, and calling attention to patterns in nature can help leverage someone out of a rabbit hole.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:47 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Please don't screw up someone's trip with this nonsense. There's no speed in LSD unless someone deliberately combines speed with it, which is very unlikely -- especially if you're swallowing a tab. That's a myth from the past, like the "strychnine" BS.

...on the other hand, LSD is physically stimulating and will keep you awake if you take it late in the day. And it's common to have all the fun colorful parts of the trip wear off and still be WIDE AWAKE and maybe a little jittery. It's always felt to me the way it feels when I accidentally drink a cup of coffee right before bedtime.

But yeah, there's no actual speed (i.e. no amphetamine or methamphetamine) involved in this effect, and though it can be annoying when you've had a long fun tiring trip and you just want to wind down and get some sleep, it's basically harmless.
posted by and so but then, we at 10:49 AM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

I haven't done that in a long while, but back in the day, I hated going places. I did like being outside in my own back yard, but being anywhere else was overwhelming and sometimes freaked me out. Be prepared for him to maybe be irritating. I've been the sober one when my friends/lovers/husbands were tripping and god they're annoying, ha (and also boring). Just don't harsh on him, maybe try to push a little water if you don't see him eating/drinking. My first trip, my ex and I stayed in our bedroom the whole time, listening to the Velvet Underground, the same tape flipped over and over all night. We also had colored light bulbs in a lamp and all the colorful shadows in our room was very cool. I think the idea of crayons and paper is good one. Also fiddly things, little things to play with, one time I spent a couple of hours playing with a pile of fake gold coins and some plastic cups, like a toddler.
posted by upatree at 10:54 AM on December 24, 2012

One more thing - if this somehow turns into a crisis situation and things get beyond your ability to handle, call 911. And tell the medical responders (once they arrive) what your SO is on. Like if he smashes his face on the monkey bars at the park, has a seizure, gets badly cut or otherwise injured, becomes aggressive or violent or simply freaks out and will not respond to your efforts to calm him.

This would absolutely not be the time to let pride or doubt get in the way of getting needed help, or the fear of punishment to cause you to withhold information from medical providers. They have things that can help bring someone down who's having an extremely bad time of things on acid.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:59 AM on December 24, 2012

If you have never taken acid before, be prepared to be extremely patient with your significant other. Especially considering he is the only one that will be tripping.

The public thing - well, I could take it or leave it. I never wanted to be out in public if I was under the influence. Personally, I wouldn't want other people to see me tripping my balls off plus the interactions are just too weird.

Also, it's gonna be a long night so you should also be prepared to stay up late. Not much sleep goes on for about 24 hours.

It's hard to tell what to expect - the first time you do this is completely new. Hang out, try to have fun and keep him from wandering into trouble.

Oh - I should note that I have been pretty darn clean for YEARS. But if I was to do this stuff in today's time, I would totally hide my mobile phone and unplug any landlines. Nothing ruins a trip more than an unexpected call from mom and dad.
posted by punkrockrat at 11:02 AM on December 24, 2012

Yeah - nthing the "hide the phones" thing punkrockrat mentioned. We didn't have to worry about that back when I was doing stuff like this. Ask your SO to agree in advance that social media is completely off limits during the trip! No tweeting! No Facebook!

Following on to that, please don't take photos of your SO on the trip, and if you do, don't post them anywhere public unless your SO reviews them and assents once he is stone cold sober again. Posting such pictures would be a great way to utterly obliterate feelings of trust and safety.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 11:10 AM on December 24, 2012

My rule was "after a certain point of out of control action, you are on your own" I would always stress that to my friends prior to dosing on hallucinogens.

Stuff like: freaking out and getting extremely violent, getting naked in public, becoming suicidal, etc. basically anything beyond my untrained ability to handle. A few times I have had to cut people loose to save my own ass from a heap of trouble, and a few times those people ended up in the psych ward for a couple of days after a night in jail, but that's also happened to my friends after getting extremely drunk, so as a rule it works pretty well in many circumstances.

It really depends on how carefree your partner is. I've never "lost reality" but I have been around plenty of people who have. If you take too much the lines get really blurry.

Maybe establish a safe word to help keep the line back? Like he says "cacao" and you grab his hand? For instance, he could be falling into a massive spiral fractal dimension and be having trouble knowing where the world is. by saying the safe word, a hand coming out to hold his may help him keep his up/down orientation somewhat together.

It's also important to set sexual boundaries. You need to decide if sexual acts are in the table or not...That can get really weird.
posted by roboton666 at 11:21 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

The other thing I just thought of that I haven't seen mentioned so far, be mindful of how much you are taking. LSD takes a while to kick in to the point where sometimes it feels like it's not working. Don't take anymore, it just might take a while to kick in. For a first timer, take one tab and that's it. I generally recommend to give it up to an hour before deciding to drink a beer, take more, or do anything outside of just get final prep work done.
posted by lpcxa0 at 11:36 AM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yeah, acid takes a long time to come on. Over an hour; sometimes two.

Really, it would be better if he was with an experienced tripper or with someone who was also tripping.

He may get super horny. Or he may just want to close his eyes and hallucinate for hours. It will probably be boring for you. Try to get in the mindset of making him a loving and generous gift, rather than anxiously supervising.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:41 AM on December 24, 2012

Some food is really fun/interesting on acid.

I saw two people on mushrooms eat grapes once. Apparently the grapes were delightful and super hilarious.
posted by salvia at 12:02 PM on December 24, 2012 [5 favorites]

Don't be surprised if you start to feel a little strange... I don't know how or why, but I, and other people I know, have sometimes felt a little trippy myself when spending time with people who are tripping.

And I don't know if it really works, but I have heard that Vitamin C can help bring someone out of a bad trip.

And finally, does he know the origin and strength of the LSD he is taking? That is really important to know beforehand.
posted by Kerasia at 12:25 PM on December 24, 2012

first off i think you should relax about any expectations you might be having. it's just a drug, it has a finite time frame of affect and it wears off after 6 or 8 hours. Acid's not really dangerous but some situations can be, especially if your friends start freaking you out by their bummer vibes.

remember the all important 'Set and Setting.' expectations, desires, mind frame are all important as is the company one keeps when tripping. a tense tripper can sometimes have a not so nice trip just as a tense companion can influence the trip negatively. imagine that you are with a wonderful child that you love immensely. a child that's just learning language and walking and social stuff. let the child wander where he will but don't let him stick his finger in a light socket or swallow pennies. watch the child laugh and sing and dance around. let it explore.

also, for a first time tripper i would say avoid the day time when dosing and avoid crowds. DON'T TRIP IN THE DAYTIME, unless you're in a safe place out in nature. daytime is cop time. daytime invites awkward interactions in an urban environment. someone-i-know once realized on a trip how much they loved their grandparents and decided to go visit them in the early a.m. near the end of a trip. luckily the grandparents were country-folk and early risers and were ready for breakfast when person arrived. the-person-i'm-referring-to had breakfast and a fairly lovely visit with only a tense moment or two before going home to crash. person also got to tell grandparents how much they were loved and, in a fitting cyclical act, got to feed grandparents' chickens after eating their eggs for breakfast.

really what you should do is make sure you have the refuge of nature readily available as well as copious amounts of picture books and favorite music. have as many beautiful things around as you can. flowers, fabrics, art, crystals, animal bones, sea shells, crystals. make sure there are a couple of days break between the trip and the return to the mundane world. don't try to influence the trip and don't be a bummer. if you don't relax; SO won't relax. have fun and let him have fun.

most importantly again, don't worry and don't set him up to worry. it's not some cataclysmic, bad, looming thing. it's just LSD and it's just life.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 12:55 PM on December 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

Please don't screw up someone's trip with this nonsense. There's no speed in LSD unless someone deliberately combines speed with it, which is very unlikely -- especially if you're swallowing a tab. That's a myth from the past, like the "strychnine" BS.

I think people are just trying to explain the effects. In the later stages it feels like speed, except edgier and suckier. And I got stomach cramps at the beginning every time (which no one told me was coming) that were explained as strychnine. Like that makes you feel better about it when you’re tripping.
posted by bongo_x at 12:59 PM on December 24, 2012

buy a weird little toy that lights up or makes noise or both

Get Simon! Don't tell my kids, but some friends and I had a blast playing Simon in a completely dark room. It was like communicating with some alien, sentient being. Regrettably (or perhaps not) the next day it was just a plastic toy, which seemed a bit sad at the time.
posted by she's not there at 2:00 PM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Not much to add but I will nth the idea that big busy public spaces with lots of people could be problematic. The only way I can see that as a good thing might be a scenario where your SO can people-watch without being seen or interacting. I could see that being fascinating.

One more thing - if this somehow turns into a crisis situation and things get beyond your ability to handle, call 911. And tell the medical responders (once they arrive) what your SO is on. Like if he smashes his face on the monkey bars at the park, has a seizure, gets badly cut or otherwise injured, becomes aggressive or violent or simply freaks out and will not respond to your efforts to calm him.

This is good advice if a true medical emergency arises. But make sure it's really, REALLY a crisis. Nothing will make a psychedelic experience get worse faster than a non-voluntary ER visit or an interaction with law-enforcement.
posted by werkzeuger at 2:02 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would suggest having a fun to look at animated kids movie on hand. Nothing puts ya in a better mood than watching Horton Hears a Who to get your mind off of the depth of the universe. Plus, it gives you something to do too!
posted by Grandysaur at 2:13 PM on December 24, 2012

Some things that seem like a good idea to watch on acid, btw, can turn out not to be, like shows about science can turn into a nightmare if they start talking about stars blowing up or something like Thant. Better to watch stuff aimed at kids than more serious fare, if you have an option, and when I say kids, I mean like pre-schoolers-- Baby Mozart and Tellytubbies can pull someone right out of a bad trip.
posted by empath at 2:51 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I genuinely feel bad saying this, but I guess I would feel bad not saying it too. I know multiple people who have permanently (as in decades long) destroyed their mental health using LSD (though I do NOT know anyone personally who did this after a single trip). It is not always a trivial or recreational experience. Someone above mentioned do not be afraid to seek medical intervention if needed and I can not second that idea enough.

I think for the great majority it works out fine, but it most definitely does not work out for everybody. Probably impossible subject to do a cost benefit analysis on, but something to consider. I trust and hope that everything goes really well.
posted by jcworth at 5:08 PM on December 24, 2012

It's been a long long time but I considered taking it again to see Avitar, how cool would the blue people be?

I was always afraid of food but water is good.

Be ready for a giant 2 year old.
posted by ibakecake at 5:52 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

The above responses often contradict each other, yet are very definite and specific. That's because, to some extent, you don't know how it will be. It depends on so many factors that, even if you know them, we don't. Therefore, I want to say be ready for anything and be accepting of everything.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:12 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

This may be somewhat a different situation, but I had a friend sit for me when I had a minor operation and was coming off of painkillers and anesthesia.

I told him that I will need to go to the store afterwards, and that I only needed three food items. I wrote them down on a list for him. Sure enough, when were at the store, it came in handy because I was seriously high, thought that Ben and Jerry's "Schweddy Balls" ice cream was the funniest thing ever, and wanted to buy 8 pints of it. Nono, my friend said, you are restricted to these three things. And that's all we bought.

So, if you think your friend might have to go shopping during this fantastic time of exploration, set some boundaries first.
posted by spinifex23 at 6:34 PM on December 24, 2012

Eat beforehand. It might slow onset down a bit but acid trips can last a long, loooong time, during which eating might be unpleasant or difficult. Being hungry or low in blood sugar can make a trip more difficult to deal with. It might be an idea to cook up some pasta beforehand that you can keep around and available to eat during the trip. (Probably not spaghetti, though, since it can be a bit offputting to see your food squirm). I've noticed that eating sugary things tends to make it easier to deal with the world, at the expense of reducing the intensity of the trip somewhat; keep some easily-digestible snack food around.

When you're tripping it can be easy to get lost in this weird meta-spiral of your own thoughts. You might see someone make an odd gesture or expression and spend (seemingly) ages wondering about why and what this means and then whether they've noticed that you're worrying about this and did you just think this thought or say it out loud and how long have I been wondering about this now, maybe I seem weird now from just spending so long wondering about it, and, and, (etc). This is why sarcasm can be a bad idea while tripping; communicate directly and don't say anything open to misinterpretation. It might be hard or frustrating for him to explain what's going on in his head so you may need to be patient.

Don't leave him on his own for long periods; be aware of where he is at all times, and make sure he knows where you are at all times. If you need to, eg, go to the bathroom, look at your watch and say "it's 3.30pm. I am going to the bathroom and I will be back in a few minutes". Time does weird things on acid; knowing what time you left means that if he thinks it's been hours since you went and wonders if he should go look for you, he can check his watch and see that in fact it's been about three minutes, so perhaps not.

A really scary thing that can happen while tripping is the idea that you're losing control of your own mind, that you'll be like this permanently. If this happens, remind your partner that he will be fine; whatever is scaring him will pass. Remind your partner that nobody has ever died from an LSD overdose: people have survived taking over 1,000 times the active dose. Have somewhere dark and warm and comforting to retreat to.

Nthing finding some nature - I've always enjoyed wandering around quiet parks or gardens; trees are amazing on acid, as is just sitting down and watching what's going on in the grass. While I'd try to avoid crowds or places with lots of people, it might be an idea to take him to a park somewhere - you can sit down in the grass or on a bench and pretend to just be ordinary people sitting and chilling out, and you're not forced to interact with others much. Botanical gardens would be great.

If you find a good tree to look at, get him to sit down and just watch, relax, and detach from everything. IME the stronger and more immersive a trip gets, the harder it is to verbalize what's going on, but also that trying to verbalize can decrease the intensity; don't worry too much if he goes all quiet. Holding hands can help - it reminds him that you're still there but he doesn't have to put any words together.

In general: relax, be cheerful - it's a big adventure and it's what you make of it. It will help massively if you both have an open and accepting happy-go-lucky attitude. Have fun!
posted by doop at 11:08 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh, regarding the comedown: it may take a long time. There's a stage where you're clearly not tripping hard any more, but the world is still kind of sparkly around the edges. My partner and I got into the habit of opening a really nice bottle of wine at this point: the complexity of the wine is still really fun on the residual acid, and it's nice to unwind a bit and chat about what the experience has been like. I prefer to trip during the daytime because sunshine is lovely (and it's easier to trip over things or get lost at night) - we'd usually drop at the crack of dawn, and then drink a bit of wine and watch the sun set as we come down that evening. Do not make any plans for the day after the trip - in fact I'd go as far as suggesting you stick around that day in case he needs to talk things over.
posted by doop at 11:31 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would rather get punched in the face than do a psychedelic, particularly LSD, for the first time in a busy public place.
posted by anthropomorphic at 12:27 AM on December 25, 2012

Unless he's taking some large quantity of LSD, he probably doesn't even need a "sober sitter". Personally, it would kinda freak me out if I were doing it for the first time and the person I was doing it with was sober. You may want to consider dropping acid with him -- it will probably be more fun for both of you. However, you should do whatever makes you both most comfortable.

The trick to avoiding bad trips is to avoid encounters with some of the more unfortunate aspects of reality. So, no phonecalls to parents, no interactions with coworkers, no contact with people who would make you feel paranoid, no responsibilities of any kind that have to be dealt with. Oh! And you should have some kind of sleep aid available in case you're ready for the trip to be over but the trip isn't over yet. Ambien is probably best, but xanax and soma will do in a pinch.

Best way to trip (in my opinion) is to take it early in the day, and then spend the day out in nature doing lots of physical things. Hiking is a wonderful way to spend your trip; LSD gives you tons of energy, and nature is beautiful and perfect. And then by nightfall, you're completely exhausted and satisfied. Kinda like you just had sex with the universe.

I don't mind tripping in public/urban settings around strangers, but I know a lot of people don't like this. I probably wouldn't recommend it for a first time -- at very least, make sure you have a quick and easy way out in case it becomes too intense.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:34 AM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

BTW -- a few people above mentioned the freakout/hospital possibility. I really wouldn't worry about this too much. Unless you're taking some huge dose, it's just not very likely. One thing you should know, though -- when people freak out on LSD and wind up in the emergency room, guess what the treatment usually is? Tranquilizers! Which is one of the reasons I suggest having some kind of sleep aid available. If someone is really, truly having a bad trip, the best thing they can do is go to sleep and wake up sober.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:45 AM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

I haven't indulged in LSD or shrooms in a very long time and what I remember most was how important temperature can be. When I was warm the tripping was good, but when I was cold it wasn't as good ...not bad ...just not as good as it could be.

Also, recommending glow sticks. We used to tie them to the ends of shoe laces and spin and spin and spin them for hours.

Good luck, your boyfriend is going on an 8-hr (at least) vacation and you're gonna be bored silly.
posted by AnneBoleyn at 9:54 AM on December 25, 2012

I'm probably just going to mostly summarize and support some of what's already been said.

There's a 99% likelihood your partner will have an easy, pleasurable, interesting trip, and a 1% chance he will find it awful. Either way he'll be fine afterwards. You will play a big role in making his experience better or worse, because he will be highly suggestible -- if you're anxious or uncomfortable, he'll pick that up from you.

To make it better, you want to be relaxed and happy. Don't approach this as a big dangerous thing. Yes, your job is to keep him safe, but that won't be hard, and it's only a small part of what you'll do. The more important piece is to help him maximize his enjoyment.

In the 1% scenario, your job is to be reassuring and competent. He will be distractable, so if he's upset offer him a hot bath, a cup of tea, some calming music. Listen to him and then reassure him. Don't deny his experience or argue with him, just be calm and confident and tell him everything is going to be fine. As others have said, think of yourself as the parent of a small child.

In the 99% scenario, your job is to help him amplify his pleasure. Follow his lead. If he wants to stay inside, do that. If he wants to go out, do that. He probably won't want to do anything stupid, but if he does your job is to stop him. Whatever he's interested in --music, texture, lights, water-- help him explore it. He may or may not want to touch you: he probably won't feel very sexual. He may feel cold or hot or jittery or energetic: all that is normal and you should just aim to keep him comfortable. He may talk a lot of nonsense: that's normal too.

Other stuff (again, mostly repeats of what's already been said): get him to eat before he takes the acid, because he probably won't want to eat afterward for at least six hours. Have some interesting objects handy for playing with -- stuff like grapes, little puzzles, toys, playdoh, scented oils, games, or candy. Nothing that requires concentration: just simple fun things. Turn off your phones, or keep them away from him. Pay attention to ambience: lighting, music, temperature. It'd be normal for him to wish it would end an hour or two before it actually does: you can help him at that point with some wine, blankets, low lights.

Enjoy yourselves :-)
posted by Susan PG at 1:21 PM on December 25, 2012

A rule that has served me well in similar circumstances: either the sitter or the traveler(s) have complete veto power on any topic of discussion. If you (or they) don't feel like talking about it, don't. Move on. I'd suggest you skip any downer topics. Don't get into a discussion about your lousy boss, your horrible job, challenges in your relationships, family woes... Focus on the positive, joyous and upbeat. If at all possible, get out of the house and wander in a park, the woods, go for a hike, enjoy the trees, hills, and sky.

Hope it goes well for you!
posted by browse at 1:40 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's hard to go wrong watching Fantasia.
posted by Daddy-O at 5:44 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

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