Chill, discreet psychedelic experimentation group?
August 7, 2014 10:13 PM   Subscribe

I've been interested in psychedelics for a while, for recreation as well as the experience and potential introspective and worldview-altering effects. I haven't known anyone who's touched anything psychedelic or hallucinogenic, except maybe cannabis, since college. I would like to find a group supportive of responsible psychedelic drug use. Do such things exist in major cities, and how do I find them?

In the past, I have experimented with different strains of cannabis and small, safe doses of MDMA on my own. I'd really like to be introduced to a wider variety of experiences by people who know what they're doing, in a supportive environment, with a responsible sitter.

To be vague, I've recently moved to the metro area of a city with population about 400,000, 2-hours' drive from a major "liberal-heavy" city of 700,000 where I'd most expect to find these sort of people. An unexplained day trip alone to that city is generally not possible, given the questions it would raise back home, on top of being pretty far from where I'd consider "safe".

Are there Meetup euphemisms employed for experimentation groups, something like "spiritual" or "introspective", dancing around the details? Are there grey-net (or even darknet) sites for finding people to do this with?

I guess the crux of my question is: how does one get started trying out potentially dangerous (in the sense of the risk of a bad trip) substances in a safe environment?
posted by anonymous to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have an answer for you, but you should consider creating a throwaway email address and asking a mod to amend the question with your email. People might be more likely to help if they didn't have their answers attached to their username on a public forum. And since this is an anonymous question, consider posting at least the state or area of the country, since you might get more specific answers that way.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 11:54 PM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I guarantee you these sorts of groups exist, because I've been invited at least twice since living in LA.

Because I did have both party and deeply spiritual psychedelic experiences in my 20's, I did not accept the invitations. Also, I was being invited once or twice to do Ayhuasca (sp?) which is too strong for me to mess with today.

Yep. Create a fake email and include a location.

Additionally, maybe get tickets and attend Burning Man. I know it's not the same, but you still might find your "tribe" there.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 12:12 AM on August 8, 2014

Might be useful if you were to share more details about your location. A quick search on for "psychedelic" shows 6 groups within 5 miles of me -- I live in San Francisco. On the other hand, if I plug in, say, Columbus, OH, it only shows 1 group within 100 miles (and that one has only 13 people in it).
posted by phoenixy at 12:32 AM on August 8, 2014

Seconding burners. There are burner meetups all over the world. You'll need to get to know them and participate in the culture---drugs aren't specifically the purpose of the subgroup, per se---but I've met far more kind, excellent people (who happen to be heavily into psychedelics) who are burners than in any other subculture.
posted by woodvine at 4:47 AM on August 8, 2014

...but I wouldn't call them "chill." There's a lot of Very! Loud! Bass! And Blinky! Lights! at Burner events.
posted by woodvine at 4:55 AM on August 8, 2014

I would be very leery of people who promote themselves as "people who know what they're doing", who provide "a supportive environment", and are "responsible" sitters. What's their agenda?

If you're looking for a controlled environment, one controlled by people you don't even know, it could well be that psychedelics are not for you. I say this as someone who took her first acid trip before it was illegal.

If, on the other hand, you have trusted friends who have experimented, ask one of them if they're willing to hang out with you while you trip.
posted by mareli at 7:35 AM on August 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

So. This got kind of long. I'm sorry if it isn't all a direct answer, but I think "how do I lay the groundwork to be a good candidate for entry into such a circle?" is going to be a part of "how do I find these circles" because if you aren't, at a bare minimum, aware of some concerns and etiquette, they won't tell you what they're up to or where or when.

First, it's really hard to offer you concrete advice on exactly where to go, even if we did know what city you were in.Yes, these groups exist, in various forms. You will find them through tangential means, and no member will refer a near or total stranger to the inside unless there is something about you that seems exceptional.

Places you should frequent: Online, read places that mention Rick Doblin's work with MAPS, Erowid for the reading, your local library for ethnography of hallucinogen use. In person, meetup groups, but be super wary of people who are super public about their illegal consumption of substances. Herbal health food stores, people will be pretty covert here. Not everyone is partaking, but some are. Honestly, head shops are going to be hit or miss, and I would not be comfortable sending you to one. Yoga. Places in your town where the Burners congregate. Everyone thinks it's hippies with patchouli and patched jeans, but really, there are punk rock people who do acid too. Don't ever ask any employee if they know anyone who knows anything (you risk sounding like a narc, and instilling fear in strangers). Just. BE there and listen and be friendly with people you meet. Meet more people. Chemists, people who sell mushroom logs at the farmers market, people who do spiritual journey work, and maybe someone who has a really good tarot reader (I'll drop a note here that tarot is more about introspection than about fortune telling. The person being read should be, in my opinion, making the connections while the reader mostly asks questions and explains/lays ground work for connections. Some consider it too much like horoscope to be taken seriously. Whatever blows your skirt up. Forer effect, etc.).

Keep meeting people. Keep an open mind about who might invite you. I'd bet you a dollar that it'll be a grandmother type, maybe someone who leads retreats. Be extra super wary of college age people offering you drugs. Do not do hallucinogens with total strangers, unless you are in a genuine research environment. This should be obvious, but it sounds like A. the priorities you're after are not the same as the (overgeneralized, I know) things that much younger and/or more experienced people are looking for when tripping. B. you are generally interested in guidance. Accessing deeper parts of the mind is widely acknowledged to happen with hallucinogens, but your choices historically for that kind of work (and make no mistake, it is work, are do it alone in an isolated place, or do it with an experienced, knowledgeable guide. These historically have been parts of rituals/rites of passage. The ordeal was acknowledged as both transformative and dangerous (knowledge and danger are frequently paired, all the way back to Eve). Rhetorical question for you to think deeply on: Do you want that acknowledgement? It doesn't sound like you can safely get it from your current cohort.

Once you have found your people, vet your guide. This is probably something you are going to have to pay for, either up front with lots of time and rapport building, or with money. Trip sitting is a skill. Its nuance and time commitment far surpass hanging out with a couple of kids who have gone to sleep while mom and dad are at the movies. Investigate how this is handled in other countries. Read about the historical and cultural significance of the kind of spiritual journey you are seeking. Know the differences between mushrooms, acid, and other substances.

Set and setting matters very very much in psychedelic use. From your quick write up, there are some red flags that would give some caution about trip sitting you, or being dosed with you.

First, that your life circle is currently narrow enough that there seems to be no person you can casually discuss this with who can help you network or brainstorm. This may be unfair, but it might simmer in the background. Second, your home life is concerned enough about an unexplained day trip to a place, but you seem to think that you could come down from psychedelics without attracting notice from the people closest to you. Third, and this is really nit-picky about me, but you don't seem to have done much thought about what sort of introspective benefits you're looking for. Is there a trait of yours, or a past experience that you'd like to process? A goal you'd like to move toward? Psychedelics are tools. But like all other tools, you have to aim them at something in order for them to work. I mean, lots of people will report profound experiences that they didn't set out to have, and that's great. I'd segue nicely into the joke about when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. But instead, I'll just say, your guide should ask you up front about your history and what you hope to achieve. Answer honestly. If there is major trauma in your past, please do not paper over it. Your guide should also have a plan for what to do if things go wrong (with a few different types of "wrong" getting covered, from injury to unpleasant side effects). Your guide should also know up front what sorts of things are generally calming to you and what sorts of things exacerbate stress for you. Some people want to be gently patted on the back, other people want soothing words and gentle music. Some people want all of that, and others want something else entirely. You previous experiences with hallucinogens can and will inform much of that.
posted by bilabial at 9:02 PM on August 8, 2014

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